2020 – Laurie Mikva

Laurie has long been recognized as a leader in the Chicago legal community. Her entire career has been devoted to improving access to justice for society’s most vulnerable citizens, beginning with her work at the Maryland Public Defender’s Office, and continuing during her 15 years at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation. However, it is her work as an educator at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law that has earned her the Leonard Jay Schrager Award for Excellence.

Laurie began working at the Bluhm Legal Clinic as an Assistant Clinical Professor in 2012 and became the Civil Litigation Director in 2017. Along with her students, she represents tenants who are facing eviction from federally subsidized housing, and she works closely with other legal aid organizations including Legal Aid Chicago and Cabrini Green Legal Aid. Laurie works diligently with each student to build their litigation skills and confidence from their first court appearances, and she also helps them understand the devastating effects of poverty and the enormous impact that their advocacy can have on reducing its harm. 

A leading voice at the law school for pro bono, Laurie has organized panels on the importance of pro bono, including perspectives from both legal aid organizations and law firms. She is a strong advocate for her students to include pro bono in their legal careers, no matter what career path they may take. As a colleague writes, Laurie “embodies the dedication, leadership, and commitment to public interest work that the award is intended to honor.”