2014 – Jill M. Metz
Jill Metz has devoted her 35-year career in law to litigating, advocating and educating the public about LGBT legal issues, both in her private practice and through her pro bono service. Jill graduated from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 1978 and opened her firm, Jill Metz & Associates, in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. Seeing a need, she quickly turned her focus to the many legal issues faced by same-sex couples and soon developed a thriving private practice. At the same time, she has volunteered her time with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), litigating precedent-setting cases, advocating for changes in the law, and serving in leadership roles.
Jill’s work combines excellent litigation tactics, tremendous leadership and policy acumen to advance the rights of the LGBT community. A long-time member of the ACLU, Jill began working closely with the organization in 1991 on a groundbreaking case that secured a ruling that custody of a child may not be denied because of a parent’s sexual orientation, the first of many important cases that she has litigated or influenced at the ACLU.
In 1999, Jill joined the ACLU Board of Directors and has served as Board President since 2006, leading the organization’s efforts on the fight for same-sex marriage and working to increase financial and other support from the board and other ACLU members to expand the number and significance of the civil liberties cases the ACLU can prosecute. Jill has been instrumental in Illinois becoming the sixteenth state to recognize the freedom to marry. She played vital roles in bringing strategic litigation, drafting legislation, building coalitions, creating a strategic statewide communication plan and educating lawmakers and the public about the impact of these issues.
As stated by one of Jill’s nominators, Jill is “a unique leader who is both a visionary and a hands-on leader who brings her incredible time and talent to advocating for human rights and civil liberties,” making her an ideal recipient of the Edward J. Lewis II Pro Bono Service Award.