Pro Bono Week 2016 Enthusiastic Crowds, Exciting New Programs

The CBA and CBF’s 12th Annual Pro Bono Week featured a number of successful programs and events that underscored this year’s theme, Caring, One Person at a Time. Rachel O’Konis Ruttenberg, Executive Director of the Family Defense Center, and Andrew Vail, Partner at Jenner & Block LLP, co-chaired the Week, which ran from October 24 to 28. We are delighted that hundreds of legal professionals in Chicago came together to celebrate the important pro bono work being done in our community and to encourage even more pro bono work in the year ahead.

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Rachel O’Konis Ruttenberg
Family Defense Center

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Andrew Vail
Jenner & Block LLP

Monday kicked off with a multimedia video and panel CLE presentation about communicating with individuals experiencing poverty: Breaking Poverty Barriers to Equal Justice that was very well received. That program is available to CBA members on demand for free, and we encourage you to watch it at your convenience if you were not able to attend. Two additional CLEs were presented during the week on non-partisan voter protection opportunities on Election Day.

On Tuesday morning, the ever-popular Breakfast with Judges program was hosted by Jenner & Block, where participants and judges discussed how the legal community can work together to encourage and support pro bono work year-round.

Tuesday evening, we gathered at Revolution Brewing for a special story slam event, Justice: An Evening of Stories and Community, emceed by Ben Weinberg from Dentons and Angela Vigil from Baker & McKenzie. Eight incredible storytellers inspired us, made us laugh, and brought us together as a pro bono and legal aid community.

On Thursday, more than 250 people attended the 22nd Annual Pro Bono & Community Service Fair (photos) generously hosted by Kirkland & Ellis. At the Fair, which was presented by the CBA Young Lawyers Section, participants met with representatives from 40 of Chicago’s pro bono, community service, and mentoring organizations, and found volunteer opportunities suited to their interests, skills, and experience while networking with likeminded professionals.

You can read about, or watch, just a handful of the many great pro bono stories in our community as they are told through articles and stories in the CBA Record and the Pro Bono Week testimonials. And to see how you can get involved, check out the CBF’s Pro Bono Opportunities Guide, designed to help you find a pro bono program particularly suited to your interests, skills and schedule.

We want to thank all of those who contributed to the success of the 12th annual Pro Bono Week. 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.