Unsung Pro Bono and Public Service Heroes Honored

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

BR1_9149Seven outstanding attorneys in the Chicago area were recognized and celebrated for their extraordinary work at The Chicago Bar Association and The Chicago Bar Foundation 18th Annual Pro Bono and Public Service Awards Luncheon on July 18, 2016.

Nearly 700 people attended this year’s event held at the Fairmont Hotel Chicago, co-chaired by Kelly McNamara Corley, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary at Discover Financial Services, and Rebecca S. Eisner, Partner-in-Charge of Mayer Brown LLP’s Chicago office.

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 to alleviate suffering for individuals with mental illness, young people involved in juvenile justice matters, underprivileged senior citizens, families impacted by childhood cancer, victims of consumer fraud, families facing wrongful evictions, and many other people in need in our community. Some brief background on the Pro Bono and Public Service Awards and this year’s honorees follows below, and more detailed information is available at chicagobarfoundation.org/awards.

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

Driven by her personal experiences with broken mental health, social service, and justice systems growing up, Amanda Walsh has dedicated her career to protecting families impacted by mental health issues. Through her role at the Legal Council for Health Justice, she is showing that medical-legal partnerships can significantly improve the mental health of individuals as well as their family stability. Notably, Amanda established the first children’s behavioral health medical-legal partnership in Illinois with Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Under the Rainbow outpatient clinic, which serves low-income children and families with mental illness who live in some of the most violent neighborhoods in Chicago.

The Exelon Outstanding Corporate Counsel Award

In his role as Senior Counsel for McDonald’s Corporation, Eric Carlson  demonstrates an impressive commitment to pro bono service, and the impact of his work multiplies as he inspires his colleagues to engage in meaningful pro bono work as well. As head of the company’s senior citizen pro bono project in conjunction with the Center for Disability and Elder Law, Eric organizes workshops to help low-income elderly individuals and has enlisted more than 50 attorneys and staff members at McDonald’s to participate. Along with this work, Eric is an active volunteer for McDonald’s U-visa pro bono project with the National Immigrant Justice Center, where he works to obtain U-visas for clients who were victims of significant domestic abuse.

The Edward J. Lewis II Pro Bono Service Award

Lawrence A. Wojcik has made pro bono and public service a priority for the entirety of his extensive and impressive career. Among his most notable pro bono achievements is his work on behalf of young people in the juvenile justice system. As the leader of DLA Piper’s first signature pro bono project focused on juvenile justice in 2004, and then as co-chair of the ABA’s Criminal Section on Juvenile Justice, Larry provided representation to juveniles in court, reviewed the applicable laws and public policies to identify potential systemic reforms to the system, and conducted research that was instrumental in several important U.S. Supreme Court cases, among a host of other significant pro bono accomplishments.

The Leonard Jay Schrager Award of Excellence

Since graduating from DePaul University College of Law in 2006, Shaye L. Loughlin has given back to the institution and its students as Executive Director of the school’s Center for Public Interest Law. Shaye has built this esteemed program from the ground up by increasing the school’s offerings of public interest courses, expanding service learning opportunities, developing DePaul’s Journal for Social Justice, and collaborating with students leaders to foster growth in the program overall. These tireless efforts serve to advance her ultimate mission: to provide the best possible training for students to become legal advocates for the marginalized and underserved.

The Maurice Weigle Exceptional Young Lawyer Award

In his relatively short time at Jenner and Block, Andrew F. Merrick has managed to devote substantial time to pro bono matters as a supplement to his demanding workload, an impressive feat that demonstrates his steadfast commitment to serving others.  Since joining the firm in 2006, he has committed almost 2,000 hours to pro bono service, including cases involving civil rights, criminal defense, housing, and immigration. Outside of his practice, Andrew has served in leadership positions for the Chicago Bar Association and is giving back to his community by serving on the board of directors of a childhood cancer nonprofit organization, Compass to Care.

The Richard J. Phelan Public Service Award

As the leader of the Consumer Protection Division in the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, Deborah Hagan advances and defends the interests of Illinois consumers in critical areas such as mortgage origination and servicing, student loan servicing, debt collection, identity theft and other areas of financial risk. Throughout her career she has played a significant leadership role in many groundbreaking settlements on both the state and national level, helping to recover billions of dollars in restitution for victims of consumer fraud and other wrongful conduct. She is a persistent and exemplary advocate for Illinois consumers, and as such she is recognized as one of the top consumer protection lawyers in the country.

The Thomas H. Morsch Public Service Award

For over 30 years at LAF, Timothy J. Hufman has dedicated his legal career to keeping families safe, housed and together. As a Supervisory Attorney in the Housing Practice Group, Tim’s depth of knowledge in housing law has enabled him to turn the most desperate situations into positive outcomes for his clients. Last year, Tim shifted his focus to exclusively supervising the Eviction Help Desk in the Markham Courthouse.  There, he provides legal advice, negotiates settlements, and provides extended representation to tenants with high stakes matters like eviction from subsidized housing.