2015 – Phillip J. Mohr
Over the course of his legal career, Phillip Mohr has instilled a love for pro bono in hundreds, if not thousands, of Chicago attorneys and law students. As Deputy Director of Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) and Director of Family Law, Phil’s contributions to public service and pro bono are substantial, essential and, most importantly, enduring.
Phil’s most far-reaching impact is his work with volunteer attorneys, law students and paralegals. Often, Phil is the person who introduces them to pro bono and puts them on a path to becoming lifelong pro bono enthusiasts. In addition to his many other responsibilities, Phil supervises the student intern and fellows program as well as attorney volunteers from the CBF’s Justice Entrepreneurs Project. He also oversees CVLS’s network of 23 neighborhood clinics and all of their volunteer lawyers and paralegals. He is a beloved mentor and teacher who is generous and patient with each volunteer.
Phil’s impact is particularly evident in an area of law that is a priority for legal aid clients: family law. With its complicated and emotionally taxing relationships, family law is an area many volunteers hesitate to engage in—until they see Phil’s compassion and commitment to the work. Over the past 24 years, Phil has handled, co-counseled or supervised thousands of family law cases. Last year, CVLS volunteers completed over 500 family law litigation cases; Phil had a hand in most of them. Colleague Margaret Benson states, “Phil ensures that all of CVLS’s volunteers practice with his expertise in their back pocket.”
Phil also has developed innovative new projects. At the Court’s request, he created a pilot program to expand CVLS’s Guardian Ad Litem for Minors Program into the Domestic Relations Division last year. Additionally, Phil developed and leads CVLS’s “ThunderDome” Divorce Clinics, which provide training and support to groups of inexperienced attorneys handling their first pro bono divorce cases.
Through the thousands of attorney volunteers, law students and clients he has affected, Phil leaves a legacy that will have a lasting impact on our community for years to come.