Following in the Pro Bono Footsteps of Edward Lewis

Erin McCloskey Maus receives the 2011 Lewis Award from Co-Chair Stephanie Scharf

Edward J. Lewis II was, and continues to be, an inspiration to our entire legal community. Prior to his death at age 37, Edward had completed over 2,000 pro bono hours and inspired dozens of fellow attorneys at Jenner & Block to get involved. His pro bono work ranged from challenging housing discrimination to advocating for better prison conditions to representing an asylum seeker fleeing political persecution, and those are just a few noteworthy examples.

Edward’s legacy lives on in the CBF Edward J. Lewis II Pro Bono Service Award, endowed by Jenner & Block, Nancy Loeb, and Jeff, Matt and Vanessa Colman. It is awarded annually to an attorney who shares Edward’s deep commitment to the principles of equal protection and equal justice under law.

From Roy Berg, who received the first award in 1999, to 2018 honoree Linda Coberly, each of the recipients has demonstrated outstanding pro bono service and leadership, and significantly improved access to justice for people impacted by poverty, abuse, and discrimination. Following in Edward’s footsteps, these attorneys represent our legal profession at its very best, using their legal skills for good and inspiring countless others to do the same.

Like Alfred Nobel, we can rewrite our obituary, and take away the thunder from lawyer jokes. I encourage all of you to do what I know many of you already do. Get involved in your communities, and do pro bono work. We have awesome power, skill and ability entrusted to us. Our knowledge of language, statutes and regulations can be used to hurt or to help. Use it wisely. I’d like to close with the words of Albert Camus, who wrote ‘Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children. And if you don’t help us, who else in the world can help us do this?’
Royal F. Berg, First Recipient of the Lewis Award, 1999