Pro Bono Week 2015: Rise Above Your Narrow Confines

The Chicago Bar Association and the CBF co-sponsored the 11th Annual Pro Bono Week from October 26 to 30, 2015, with the theme Rise Above Your Narrow Confines. Olga Pribyl, vice president of the Special Education Clinic and Pro Bono at Equip for Equality, and Z. Scott, partner at Kaye Scholer LLP, co-chaired the Week.

Co-Chair Z. Scott

Co-Chair Z. Scott

A special pre-Week celebration kicked off the festivities with Movies on Trial: My Cousin Vinny presented with Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP and Chicago-Kent College of Law on Friday, October 23rd. The fun, informative event featured a film screening, followed by a discussion of the film’s pro bono and ethical issues by a distinguished panel of experts, Chicago-Kent College of Law Dean Harold Krent, Corporation Counsel Steve Patton and U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Kendall. Steve Weiss of Honigman moderated the discussion.

Participants in the Week also heard from experts in several areas of law related to the transgender community during Monday’s CLE Trans 101: The Changing Landscape of Transgender Law. Attorneys learned how they can help through pro bono service in individual cases and large scale reform efforts.

On Tuesday, twenty teams of attorneys from the legal aid and pro bono community went head-to-head in a trivia battle of the pro bono wits at Revolution Brewing. Angela Vigil, Pro Bono Partner at Baker & McKenzie, and Ben Weinberg, Pro Bono Partner at Dentons, served as the MCs for the night and kept participants engaged with their extensive pro bono knowledge and humor. The two winning teams, from Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and LAF, were each able to designate a special grant to the CBF grantee of their choice.

The following day, attorneys came together for a second informative CLE program: The Americans with Disabilities Act: 25 Years of Life-Changing Impact. The CLE taught participants how to address some practical issues that arise when representing people with disabilities, as well as ways to get involved in programs that achieve real-world positive outcomes for persons with disabilities.

Co-Chair Olga Pribyl

Co-Chair Olga Pribyl

On Thursday, around 300 people attended the 22nd Annual Pro Bono & Community Service Fair presented by the Chicago Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section and generously hosted by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. At the Fair, participants met with representatives from 50 of Chicago’s pro bono, community service, and mentoring organizations, and found volunteer opportunities suited to their time and interests while networking with likeminded professionals.

Over 500 individuals participated in Pro Bono Week events. We want to thank all of those who contributed to its success!

Most importantly, we hope that the Week’s events have inspired everyone to recommit themselves to the important pro bono work that happens year round.