Pro Bono Week 2019—Connecting with Communities

Last week, during the CBA/CBF’s 15th Annual Pro Bono Week, hundreds of lawyers and other legal professionals in Chicago came together to celebrate the important pro bono work being done in our community and to learn more about new opportunities to make an impact in the year ahead. Whether you were able to participate in one of the events or not, there are countless ways to get involved and make a difference, and the CBF is here to help.

The 2019 Pro Bono Week was co-chaired by The Honorable Nichole C. Patton of the Circuit Court of Cook County and Katherine W. Shank of Legal Aid Chicago. The programs and events centered around this year’s theme, Connecting with Communities.

On Monday, we kicked off Pro Bono Week at Baker McKenzie with an interactive youth-centered simulation that explored the many challenges faced by youth involved in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems.

On Tuesday evening, nearly 100 guests 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. Brave storytellers from our legal aid and pro bono community made us laugh, made us cry, and inspired us to follow their impressive examples in the coming year.

On Wednesday, over 300 people attended the 26th Annual Pro Bono & Community Service Fair, presented by the CBF and the CBA Young Lawyers Section and generously hosted by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Participants met with representatives from over 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.

Already feeling inspired, at Thursday morning’s CLE program Community Lawyering and Pro Bono, we heard from committed legal aid advocates about the importance of community lawyering and different models for bringing legal aid and pro bono attorneys directly into the communities they serve to have an even greater impact.

Finally, on Friday we closed out the week with a full house for a lunchtime CLE at Sidley Austin on Immigration 101: What’s Going On and How Can I Help? Attendees heard from legal aid and pro bono experts about the current challenges facing immigrant communities here in Chicago and about several different pro bono projects designed to help these communities address both their immigration and civil legal needs.

Missed the Action? Don’t worry!

Here are a few upcoming pro bono trainings to get you started:

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).

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.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to the success of the 15th annual Pro Bono Week. Chicago was home to the nation’s first pro bono week and has sparked a national celebration. We are proud of this legal community which continues to set a great example for our colleagues throughout the county, and we hope this year’s Pro Bono Week inspired everyone to make pro bono work an integral part of both their own practice and the greater legal community.