As a large firm, we have the opportunity and the skills to do a lot of good. And we do.

Throughout our 150-year history, we have served the community in several different ways: through volunteer work, pro bono legal service, and charitable giving. In the early years, our lawyers drafted legislation and performed legal work for local park boards, presided over the Illinois Constitutional Convention that wrote the 1870 Constitution, and signed the Articles of Incorporation for the Chicago Bar Association.  

Today our work is equally important: we help immigrants who face persecution of all kinds stay in the United States, we represent youths who are faced with expulsion from school or with criminal prosecution, we help animals live better lives, and we support organizations that improve the lives of people worldwide as well as in our local communities. 

Schiff also recognizes its people for their pro bono work. In 2016 the firm established a Community Service Award to spotlight individuals’ pro bono achievements. Recipients so far have included a young associate who helped secure the release of a man who had been wrongfully convicted of murder, a partner who has worked for many years with a large Chicago organization that provides legal services, and our New York office coordinator who serves on the board and works tirelessly with an organization that runs both a food pantry and a mentoring program.

While our community and pro bono work has evolved over the last 150 years, one fact has remained the same. It is driven by our lawyers – by their interests and by their passions. 

Recent Schiff Hardin pro bono highlights include the following:

  • Operating a storefront legal aid clinic in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood to counsel and represent economically disadvantaged people;
  • Representing immigrants who face deportation, including children;
  • Representing three men on Death Row in Georgia throughout their appeals, habeas, and clemency processes;
  • Representing real estate organizations that build affordable, supportive housing for low-income people and people with disabilities;
  • Successfully representing a gay couple who were denied the right to hold their civil union ceremony at a bed-and-breakfast;
  • Defending students in expulsion hearings so that they can continue their education; and
  • Protecting a range of animals – including sharks, wolves, horses, hens, and puppies – from inhumane treatment.

Recent community service highlights include the following:

  • Assisting K-12 students with creative writing and publishing projects in Ann Arbor, Michigan;
  • Hosting 1L law students at our San Francisco office through the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Open Doors Program;
  • Managing a drive to benefit New York City-based Dress for Success, a nonprofit that helps economically disadvantaged women become independent;
  • Running a writing workshop for diverse 1Ls through the Pipeline Project;
  • Raising substantial funds for Passionately Pink for the Cure, a Susan G. Komen Foundation fundraiser for breast cancer research;
  • Introducing students from Chicago’s Cristo Rey Jesuit High School to the law and legal careers through the Street Law Program; and
  • Renovating and upgrading the facilities at A Safe Place’s shelter for domestic violence victims in Lake County, Illinois.
  • Community Work

    ACT can mean several things. To “act” is to make something happen. And the acronym ACT stands for “all come together.” Our ACT initiative does both things. Each year the firm – lawyers and staff – chooses organizations to support in our communities. With those organizations, we make something happen. Our ACT initiative was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King. He said:

    “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."

    We take Dr. King’s words to heart. In 2015, we focused on creating and strengthening community. We volunteered with seven organizations, including 826 Michigan (Ann Arbor), Midtown Assistance Center (Atlanta), Breakthrough (Chicago/Lake Forest), Young Consultation Services (New York), De Marillac Academy (San Francisco), and SisterMentors (Washington D.C.).

    For 2016 we have been focused on justice and the rights of all beings, including animals. We’ve volunteered with Aspiration of Life to send care packages to military men and women who are stationed abroad; we’ve adopted animals and donated shelter supplies to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; we’ve provided guidance on immigration paperwork to the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center; and we’ve completed renovations and provided financial support to a domestic crisis shelter (A Safe Place) and an advocacy center (Family Violence Appellate Project). 

  • Charitable Giving

    We give to charity in several ways. Our lawyers and staff devote their own time and money to a range of causes. They give to the Chicago Bar Foundation, the charitable wing of the Chicago Bar Association, and the biggest funding source for civil legal services for economically disadvantaged people in Illinois.

    In addition, the Schiff Hardin Foundation, a public charity under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3), donates to a range of causes. Our lawyers and staff take the lead here as well. Their input has led us to support charitable organizations that provide important social services, civil rights representations, and educational opportunities.

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David C. Scott

We have worked for 17 straight years with Rebuilding Together Metro Chicago. Each year we fix up a home. It’s a great day. Dozens of our lawyers and staff paint, do landscaping, and install cabinets and safety features. This event has one goal that we share: keeping elderly and disabled homeowners 'warm, safe and dry.'
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