2018 – Linda T. Coberly

Throughout her career at Winston & Strawn LLP, Linda Coberly has been a powerful force for change in pro bono and public service. Since she joined the firm in 2004, she has completed more than 2,000 hours of pro bono service and worked on more than 90 pro bono cases. She shapes immigration policy, advocates for the equal rights of women, and defends the rights of the accused and imprisoned—all while serving as the Managing Partner of the Chicago office.

Linda’s dedication to helping the most vulnerable populations in our city, state, and country, shows that she is a rare and exceptional combination of lawyer, advocate, and leader. One case that stands out among her many impressive pro bono achievements is a class action lawsuit in collaboration with the National Immigrant Justice Center. She served as lead counsel on the case, which was in litigation from 2011 through 2016, successfully challenging the government’s practice of issuing immigration “detainers” against people in law enforcement custody without a warrant or a probable cause finding.

Another of Linda’s significant pro bono victories resulted in indigent prisoners obtaining better access to medical care without going into debt. As a result, more prisoners are able to seek medical care earlier, saving them significant suffering while also saving money for the state.

She has led by example in encouraging her colleagues in the firm to get involved in pro bono, and has been particularly successful in getting more of her fellow partners involved. And that leadership extends to the broader community as well. As the recent Chair of Heartland Alliance’s Board of Directors, she helped lead the board through a significant strategic planning process that will help Heartland Alliance transform even more lives in the years to come.

As her colleague notes, “Linda has a quiet power exerted through integrity, outstanding work and a deep-seated personal respect for other human beings,” making her a very worthy recipient of this year’s Lewis Award.