Pro Bono Week 2023: A Celebration of Service

A big thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of the 19th annual CBA/CBF Pro Bono Week. where hundreds of lawyers, law students, and legal professionals 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 months ahead. Chicago was home to the nation’s first pro bono week and sparked what has now become a national celebration spearheaded by the American Bar Association each year.

This year’s CBA/CBF Pro Bono Week was co-chaired by Judge Mary M. Rowland of the Northern District of Illinois and Susan Shulman of North Suburban Legal Aid. The programs and events centered around this year’s theme, Getting Personal with Pro Bono, which was also reflected in the many great pro bono articles and stories featured in a special edition of the CBA Record and this year’s Pro Bono Week testimonials.

Read on for a recap of this year’s activities, and there are still many opportunities to get involved. The CBF is your pro bono resource throughout the year and you can learn more about how you can get involved on the CBF website.

This year’s Pro Bono Week kicked off on Tuesday with a CLE on Getting Personal with Pro Bono Opportunities with panelists from some of Chicago’s legal aid organizations alongside their volunteers. Attendees learned about a variety of accessible and flexible pro bono opportunities that they can get involved in. Carrying the momentum from the previous day, attorneys from Legal Aid Chicago, Legal Aid Society, and National Immigrant Justice Center presented a CLE on New Migrant Opportunities and Pro Bono Opportunities highlighting what attorneys can do now to address the migrant crisis in Chicago.

Later that evening, guests gathered at Revolution Brewing for a special story slam event, Justice: An Evening of Stories and Community, emceed by legal aid’s very own Meg Benson of Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. Brave storytellers from our pro bono and legal aid community, including our Pro Bono Week Co-Chairs, made us laugh and cry and inspired us to follow their impressive examples in the coming year.

Thursday evening was the 30th Annual Pro Bono & Community Service Fair, presented by the CBF and the CBA Young Lawyers Section and generously hosted by McDermott Will & Emery LLP. Participants met with representatives from 30 of Chicago’s pro bono, community service, and youth mentoring organizations. Attendees were able to connect right there with volunteer opportunities suited to their interests, skills, and experience while networking with like-minded professionals.

Finally, the week closed out with the Breakfast with the Judges, where guests spoke with state and federal judges about pro bono over breakfast in small roundtable conversations. We are proud of Chicago’s 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 their practices.