Pro Bono Week 2018 Celebrating the Power of Pro Bono

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Hundreds of lawyers and other legal professionals in Chicago came together last week through the CBA and CBF’s 14th Annual Pro Bono Week to celebrate the important pro bono work being done in our community. But the Week’s focus goes far beyond just celebrating past deeds of pro bono greatness. It’s also about looking ahead, envisioning a brighter pro bono future, and finding new opportunities to make an impact through pro bono in the year ahead. And whether you were able to participate in one of the events or not, there is a lot you can do to make your own pro bono impact and the CBF is here to help you do that.

Missed the action? Don’t worry!

  • The CBF is always here to help you find and connect with pro bono that is meaningful to you. Check out our newly launched online Pro Bono Opportunities Guide, and you can always contact the CBF Pro Bono Support Program by emailing or calling Angela Inzano (ainzano@chicagobar.org or 312-554-4952).
  • The Monday and Wednesday CLE programming will be archived for free viewing anytime on the CBA website.
  • 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.

Co-chaired by Margaret Duval from the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic and Greta Weathersby from WEC Energy Group, the 2018 Pro Bono Week featured a number of successful programs and events that underscored this year’s theme, Celebrating the Power of Pro Bono.

On Monday, we kicked off at the CBA with an Election Day nonpartisan volunteer opportunity that is great for lawyers and other legal professionals alike. Attendees learned how they could volunteer with Equip for Equality’s Voting Access Chicago program to ensure that all of Chicago’s polling places are fully accessible to voters with disabilities and older adults who want to exercise their right to vote.

Tuesday evening, more than 100 guests gathered at Revolution Brewing once again for a special story slam event, Justice: An Evening of Stories and Community, emceed by Ben Weinberg from Dentons and Candace Moore from the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Nine incredible storytellers inspired us, made us laugh, and brought us together as a pro bono and legal aid community.

Already feeling inspired, we learned at Wednesday’s CLE lunch program how legal aid advocates and pro bono attorneys in Chicago work to reduce the negative consequences of eviction and homelessness year-round, and how we all can help. Addressing the Hidden Impact of Evictions was hosted by Ropes & Gray LLP and drew a standing room only crowd.

On Thursday, nearly 300 people attended the 25th Annual Pro Bono & Community Service Fair, presented by the CBA Young Lawyers Section and generously hosted by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Participants met with representatives from around 40 of Chicago’s pro bono, community service, and youth mentoring organizations. Attendees found volunteer opportunities suited to their interests, skills, and experience while networking with likeminded professionals.

And speaking of standing room only, we closed out the Week with a full house for Breakfast with Judges, where members of the federal and state judiciary led small table discussions with attorneys, law students, and other legal professionals about the importance of pro bono to the community.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of the 14th annual Pro Bono Week. Chicago’s legal community continues to set a great example for our colleagues throughout the country in the birthplace of what has now become a national celebration each year. Most importantly, we hope that the Week’s events have inspired everyone to recommit themselves to making pro bono work an integral part of  their own practice and the overall justice system.