2021 – Andrew W. Vail

Andrew Vail has made pro bono service a central part of his work throughout his career. After graduating from the University of Illinois College of Law with honors in 2003, Andrew began working at Jenner & Block, a firm long recognized for its commitment to pro bono. During his time at the firm, he has opened nearly 90 pro bono matters, totaling over 6,500 hours during his career, and averaging nearly 400 pro bono hours per year. Andrew does not shy away from challenging pro bono cases. Working closely with Northwestern Law’s Center on Wrongful Convictions (CWC), he has contributed thousands of hours to help exonerate the wrongfully accused and wrongfully convicted. He has also worked on civil rights cases to represent the systemically marginalized, advocating on behalf of survivors of sexual assault, foreign nationals, asylum seekers, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Recently, Andrew organized a trailblazing collaboration between the United Way of Metro Chicago, National Immigrant Justice Center, Jenner & Block, in-house lawyers, and the Mexican consulate to provide firs ttime DACA application assistance under the new administration. He also led Jenner’s collaboration with another corporate client on the Name Change Project to assist transgender individuals during the emotionally and legally challenging process of filing an official name change petition.

In addition to the many lives that have been changed for the better because of his efforts, Andrew has also shown his commitment to pro bono through the many ways he has worked to improve the system. He spent years advocating for the electronic recording of custodial interrogations, establishing and testifying to first-hand evidence of how it benefits the legal system. He served a full 10-year term on the Illinois Criminal Pattern Jury Instructions Committee from 2009-2019, in addition to the numerous other boards and committees he has served on. This past year, Andrew transitioned from serving as the Chair of Jenner & Block’s pro bono program to serving as General Counsel of the United Way Metropolitan Chicago, where he will continue to serve people and improve communities by providing advice and legal counsel to UWMC and its partners. He also currently serves on the boards of Legal Aid Society, CWC, and the Mikva Challenge.

One of his clients said, “over the 10-year period that he represented me, he went through great lengths, and never gave up and actually cared about me, not just the case, but my family and myself as well.”