Honoring Careers of Dedication and Service

Seven attorneys recognized for outstanding work at the CBA and CBF Pro Bono and Public Service Awards Luncheon

Seven unsung heroes in the legal profession were recognized and celebrated for their extraordinary service to our community at The Chicago Bar Association and The Chicago Bar Foundation’s 21st Annual Pro Bono and Public Service Awards Luncheon on July 23, 2019.

This year’s event was held at the Hilton Chicago, co-chaired by Colby Anne Kingsbury of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP and Kevin M. Robinson of Guggenheim Partners, LLC, with nearly 700 attendees.

2019 Pro Bono & Public Service Award Recipients
Recipients of the 2019 CBA & CBF Pro Bono & Public Service Awards (clockwise from top left): Lisa Parsons, Hon. Cheryl Stark, Maureen Kieffer, David Pi, Steve Pflaum, Sherene Jodrey, and Sue Pak

This year’s award recipients were commended for their unwavering commitment to ensuring access to justice and inspiring others to do the same. Some brief background on the Pro Bono and Public Service Awards and this year’s honorees follows below. More detailed information and photos from the luncheon are also available.

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

As a Skadden Fellow at Cabrini Green Legal Aid, Sue Pak focused on providing re-entry services to emerging adults in the juvenile or criminal justice systems and from the neighborhoods most affected by gun violence. She helped expunge and seal records, represented clients in family law court, and presented Know Your Rights programs. As her fellowship ended, CGLA created the Emerging Adults program, a practice group that focuses on meeting the legal needs of youth and emerging adults and hired Sue as the Supervising Attorney. Today, Sue continues to tirelessly fight for the rights of her clients in and outside the courtroom. Through the Anderson fellowship, Sue will be able to lessen the burden of her student loans and continue working for the rights of young people in need.

The Exelon Outstanding Corporate Counsel Award

Sherene Awad Jodrey has been a champion for pro bono throughout her legal career, first at Winston & Strawn, then at Aon, and now as Senior Counsel at The Boeing Company. As a long-time volunteer with the National Immigrant Justice Center, Sherene has championed the rights of some of the most vulnerable populations in the world, including asylum seekers fleeing abuse and persecution in their home countries. She launched Aon’s Global Pro Bono Initiative, partnering with legal aid organizations throughout Chicago to establish a robust pro bono program which provided new opportunities and support for in-house attorneys. Sherene also forged a relationship with Equip for Equality, recruiting in-house attorneys to help staff the organization’s Special Education Helpline. The length and breadth of her pro bono service are impressive, as is the ripple effect of her pro bono advocacy, which has inspired many other attorneys and helped to build new in-house pro bono programs.

The Richard J. Phelan Public Service Award

Judge Cheryl A. Starks dedicated her career to public service. But when she retired from the bench in 2010, her commitment to public service did not stop, it just took on a new form. Since that time, she has worked tirelessly on a volunteer basis with the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC), the state agency authorized to gather evidence about claims of torture in Cook County related to former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. Faced with many funding and administrative challenges, Judge Starks remained focused on the organization’s mission of healing the wrongs of the systemic torture committed against dozens of poor, African American men and providing a space for judicial review. She worked tirelessly to ensure that due process would finally be available to those who had been deprived of it many years ago. Under her guidance and advocacy, TIRC grew into a stronger, more effective institution.

The Edward J. Lewis II Pro Bono Service Award

A partner at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP, Steve Pflaum is dedicated to fostering a culture that supports pro bono and access to justice in Illinois. In addition to chairing his firm’s Pro Bono Committee, Steve has also chaired the Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee, the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Professional Responsibility, and most recently, the Illinois Statutory Court Fees Task Force. He has worked to create new rules that increase the pool of attorneys in Illinois who can provide pro bono service and expand the use of limited scope representation to help pro bono and legal aid organizations serve clients more efficiently. These efforts have fundamentally transformed the pro bono and legal aid landscape in Illinois and helped countless people receive much-needed legal help. More recently, Steve played a lead role in groundbreaking Illinois legislation to overhaul the system of statutory court fees and fines to reduce the financial burden of litigants and to improve access to the courts.

The Maurice Weigle Exceptional Young Lawyer Award

In his first six years as an associate at Schiff Hardin LLP, David Pi has already proven himself to be a true leader at the firm and in the broader legal community. In his relatively short legal career, David has already completed nearly 3,000 hours of pro bono work, taking on a wide range of cases including Section 1983 litigation in federal court; complex asylum matters with the National Immigrant Justice Center; and family law cases through the firm’s neighborhood clinic in Rogers Park, operated in partnership with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. David has also demonstrated an incredible commitment to caring for the holistic needs of his pro bono clients, working with one client to secure transportation, housing, winter clothing, and food.

The Leonard Jay Schrager Award of Excellence

As the Assistant Dean for Career Services at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Maureen Kieffer has worked to cultivate awareness and interest in public service work among countless law students and has spearheaded new initiatives to support them in their careers. Maureen’s passion for social justice comes through in the Public Interest Law Seminar that she co-teaches, and in her involvement with the law school’s externship program. As a career services professional, Maureen is sensitive to the logistical and financial challenges of pursuing public interest careers. She was instrumental in the development of the school’s post-graduate public interest fellowship program, which offers financial support to recent graduates searching for legal aid positions. Maureen stands out as a truly effective advocate, both for public service and for the students at Loyola. Her dedication to social justice is obvious to her colleagues and law students, as is her compassion and empathy.

The Thomas H. Morsch Public Service Award

Lisa Parsons has spent her 30-year legal career fighting for those who have fallen through the cracks—individuals struggling with homelessness, chronic mental illness, and substance abuse disorders. Since 2007, Lisa has been the Program Director of the Homeless Outreach Project at Legal Council for Health Justice. In striving to be non-judgmental, trustworthy and collaborative, Lisa is not only able to provide quality legal services to her clients but help them recognize and strengthen their resilience, and overcome the negative health consequences of trauma and chronic stress. Whether it is conducting outreach on a street corner, a gas station, an abandoned building or a treatment program, or spending countless hours reading and analyzing thousands of pages of medical records and drafting compelling legal arguments to ensure the best outcomes, Lisa embodies the best of Chicago’s legal community.