Honoring Careers of Dedication and Commitment

Seven attorneys lauded for their outstanding service to the community at the
CBA and CBF Pro Bono and Public Service Awards Luncheon

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DSC_6112Seven outstanding attorneys in the Chicago area were recognized and celebrated for their extraordinary work at The Chicago Bar Association and The Chicago Bar Foundation 17th Annual Pro Bono and Public Service Awards Luncheon on July 14, 2015.

Over 700 people attended this year’s event held at the Fairmont Hotel Chicago, co-chaired by Brian W. Duwe, partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and Jan Stern Reed, general counsel of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.

The award recipients represent a broad cross-section of Chicago’s legal community and share an unfaltering commitment to advancing access to justice and inspiring those around them to join the cause. This year’s recipients have fought for indigent tenants, access to education, First Amendment issues, rape survivor’s rights, and the safety of domestic abuse victims, among other issues impacting people in need. Some brief background on the Pro Bono and Public Service Awards and this year’s honorees follows.

The Kimball R. Anderson and Karen Gatsis Anderson Public Interest Fellowship

Fueled by her own trials and triumphs, Candace Moore advocates for vulnerable young people to make sure their voices are heard. As an intern and volunteer at Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Candace helped establish the Education Equity Project, which she continues to focus on as a staff attorney today. The project protects and promotes access to education for youth who are in jeopardy. Her work includes tackling the school-to-prison pipeline and addressing Chicago’s high expulsion rates, which feed the growing number of incarcerated youth.

The Exelon Outstanding Corporate Counsel Award

In addition to her work as an in-house attorney at ArcelorMittal USA, Claire Battle’s long-term commitment to Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing has resulted in substantial improvements in fundraising, programming, and overall success. Claire has not only improved the health of the organization, but continues to provide quality pro bono legal services to those at risk of homelessness by consulting and educating indigent tenants. The impact of her work multiplies as she helps her fellow in-house counsel find meaningful pro bono work in her position as Co-chair of the Pro Bono Committee of the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel.

The Edward J. Lewis II Pro Bono Service Award

At Jenner & Block, Gabriel Fuentes advances the firm’s philosophy that pro bono is a part of every lawyer’s professional obligation. His 5,000 hours of pro bono work reveal sacrifices and vigorous dedication, resulting in wins varying from reinstating a college-student newspaper editor to defending a critic of bite mark evidence and advancing the forensic science community. The journalist-turned-lawyer focuses on indigent criminal defense, prisoner rights, the protection of voting rights for minorities, and First Amendment issues. As co-chair of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee, he mentors and leads others to get involved.

The Leonard Jay Schrager Award of Excellence

Professor Mary Bird has shaped generations of public interest advocates in her role as Director of Public Service programs at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Mary’s passion for public interest is exemplified in her classes, public interest initiatives, and outreach programs. Among those are a public interest law certificate program, seminar course, annual newsletter, and an annual public interest recognition luncheon. Her innovative ideas and leadership played an integral role in the National Jurist magazine ranking Loyola University Chicago as one of the best public interest law schools in the country.

The Maurice Weigle Exceptional Young Lawyer Award

Skadden associate Shauna Prewitt shined a spotlight on a major flaw in our custody laws when her open letter to former Congressman Todd Akin went viral. She has since been instrumental in developing and passing state and federal laws strengthening protections for women with children conceived by rape by addressing the custody rights of their rapist. She also helped draft a bill known as the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act that was signed into law earlier this year. Notably, Shauna has already devoted more than 2,600 hours to pro bono service in her first five years of practice as well.

The Richard J. Phelan Public Service Award

In her role as Chief Court Administrator in the Domestic Violence Division, Leslie Landis works to support and implement the court’s goals while improving access to justice for litigants within the Division. In helping launch the Pro Bono Project in the Division, hundreds of attorneys have now in turn become passionate advocates for victims of abuse. The other programs and systems she helped design and implement over the course of her career, such as the City’s Domestic Violence Help Line and Safe Haven supervised visitation and exchange centers, continue to contribute to the safety of thousands of victims.

The Thomas H. Morsch Public Service Award

As Deputy Director of Chicago Volunteer Legal Services and Director of Family Law, Phil Mohr’s contributions to public service and pro bono are substantial and enduring. Over the past 24 years, Phil has handled, co-counseled or supervised thousands of family law cases, an area of priority for legal aid clients. He has also developed innovative projects, like expanding CVLS’s Guardian Ad Litem for Minors Program and CVLS’s ThunderDome Divorce Clinics. In his work mentoring volunteer and supervising volunteer attorneys, law students, and paralegals, Phil has inspired hundreds to become lifelong pro bono enthusiasts.