Chicago’s Legal Community Joins Together As One to Advance Justice for All

Northern Trust’s Susan Levy leads the charge as Investing in Justice Campaign kicks off its 10th Anniversary as a force for good

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Susan LevySince 2007, Chicago’s legal community has come together every March to raise awareness and critical funding for local pro bono and legal aid organizations through the CBF Investing in Justice Campaign. Over the course of that time, the Campaign has grown from 35 participating firms and companies to more than 150. The roster of participants is a who’s who of law firms, corporate legal departments, and other legal community partners, and today it is the largest campaign of its kind anywhere in the country.

Chaired this year by Susan Levy, executive vice president and general counsel at Northern Trust, the Campaign officially kicked off with an evening reception for Campaign leaders at Northern Trust’s Chicago office on March 7th. The Campaign runs throughout the month of March.

I am very excited to serve as chair of The Chicago Bar Foundation’s 10th Anniversary Investing in Justice Campaign, said Levy. Although in a different capacity then, I was there at the start of the Campaign in 2007.  It was a different time and a lot has changed over the past nine years, but the Campaign has continued to thrive through good times and more challenging times, she added. To me that speaks volumes about the deep commitment of Chicago’s legal community to improving our justice system and making Chicago a fairer and better place for us all.

Since its launch, the Campaign has seen the number of participating firms and companies quadruple and the number of individuals contributing triple. It has raised nearly $12 million to date that has helped leverage millions more in funding from the CBF’s local government and foundation partners. The Campaign has made it possible for tens of thousands of Chicagoans in need to get crucial legal help each year.

Over 1.4 million people in Cook County qualify for legal aid today, roughly half of who will encounter a legal problem over the course of a given year. Unfortunately, more than half of the people in need of legal help were turned away last year because of a shortage of pro bono and legal aid resources. As a result, growing numbers of low-income and disadvantaged people are going to court unrepresented.

The Investing in Justice Campaign is a chance for Chicago’s legal community to come together to collectively address this need and make the justice system fairer and better for everyone. One hundred percent of individual contributions to the Campaign go directly toward grants to more than 30 Chicago-area pro bono and legal aid organizations. The thousands of people who are able to get legal assistance as a result include the elderly, disabled, veterans, children, domestic violence victims, people at risk of wrongfully losing their homes, and immigrants fleeing persecution and abuse.

Last year, more than 4,700 lawyers and other individuals at participating firms, companies, and organizations made contributions to the Campaign totalling more than $1.46 million.

As the Campaign continues to grow, so does the number of people who can’t afford critical legal help, said Bob Glaves, executive director of the CBF. That makes the more than $2 million in annual grants the Campaign is making possible more important than ever. Our legal community is making a big impact here in Chicago and leading by example for our peers around the country.