Leonard Jay Schrager Award of Excellence

More on the Schrager Award

The Leonard Jay Schrager Award of Excellence was established to recognize exemplary attorneys in academia who have made significant and lasting contributions to improving access to justice for the less fortunate. The recipient must be an attorney employed by a Chicago area law school or law school clinic.

This Award is presented by The Chicago Bar Foundation and named in honor of Professor Leonard Jay Schrager, who has been a leader in the Chicago legal community for more than 30 years. Professor Schrager served as Dean of The John Marshall Law School from 1983 through 1987 and for many years after served as a distinguished Professor there. He is a founder and former senior managing partner in the Chicago law firm of Sachnoff, Schrager, Jones, Weaver and Rubenstein, Ltd., now known as Reed Smith LLP. Among many other community activities, he has served on the Special Commission on the Administration of Justice in Cook County, on the board of CARPLS, and as President of both The Chicago Bar Foundation and The Chicago Bar Association. He currently serves on the board of the Center for Conflict Resolution and is an active mediator and arbitrator and participates in a number of mediation training programs.

An attorney employed by a Chicago area law school or law school clinic will be selected for the Schrager Award based upon the excellence in the quality of the nominee’s work throughout his or her career; leadership and involvement in efforts that improve access to justice for people in our community who are challenged by poverty, abuse and discrimination; and success in promoting the values of pro bono and public service in the legal profession to law school students.

This Award has been generously endowed by the law firm of Reed Smith LLP and its partners, which allows the recipient of the award to designate a special Chicago Bar Foundation grant to the law school clinic or legal aid program of his or her choice.

Nominations for the 2024 Leonard Jay Schrager Award of Excellence are now open. Please, submit all nomination packets by Friday, May 10th. 

Schrager Award Recipients

2023 – Susan J. Curry

Susan Curry has been staunchly committed to public service throughout her legal career, highlighted by her current role as Senior Director of Public Services and Pro Bono at the University of Chicago Law School. Susan’s influence can be seen widely through her career in public interest work, her innovation at the University of Chicago Law School, and her support and encouragement of students pursuing careers in public service.

2022 – Jennifer Rosato Perea

As one of the first Latina law school deans in the United States, Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea has been a trailblazer in her field.

Dean Jenn has served as a dean for over 15 years. Her first deanship was as acting dean of Kline Drexel School of Law in its first year of operation. From there, she was the Dean of Northern Illinois University School of Law for six years before moving to DePaul University College of Law in 2015. She earned her Juris Doctorate in 1987 from the University of Pennsylvania, and her expertise includes bioethics, legal ethics, and family law.

2021 – Colleen Boraca

Colleen Boraca is a Clinical Associate Professor at Northern Illinois University College of Law and the Director of the NIU Health Advocacy Clinic (HAC), a medical-legal partnership located at Hesed House, the second largest homeless shelter in Illinois. Her colleagues describe her as a kind, trustworthy, and accomplished attorney who forms strong relationships with her clients, as she is genuinely invested in their lives. Before beginning her position at NIU, Colleen was a practicing attorney who advocated for the health of people in her community. She worked with the AIDS Legal Council (now Legal Council for Health Justice) for five years and spent another year at Loyola University Chicago’s Health Justice Project. Throughout her career, and especially during her time at HAC, Colleen’s work has been a reflection of her commitment to improving access to justice and to nurturing that commitment in new lawyers.

2020 – Laurie Mikva

Laurie has long been recognized as a leader in the Chicago legal community. Her entire career has been devoted to improving access to justice for society’s most vulnerable citizens, beginning with her work at the Maryland Public Defender’s Office, and continuing during her 15 years at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation. However, it is her work as an educator at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law that has earned her the Leonard Jay Schrager Award for Excellence.

2019 – Maureen Kieffer

As the Assistant Dean for Career Services at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Maureen Kieffer has worked to cultivate awareness and interest in public service work among countless law students and has spearheaded new initiatives to support them in their careers. She has been praised for her empathy, compassion, and deep knowledge about legal aid and pro bono work.


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