Schiff Hardin LLP and Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) are proud to commemorate 40 years of their unique and trailblazing pro bono partnership to advance change, improve lives, and bring justice, which began with the first-ever law firm adoption of a CVLS neighborhood legal clinic in 1979.
Since its opening, the legal clinic at the Howard Area Community Center in Rogers Park, a culturally vibrant, yet economically under-resourced community in Chicago, has been staffed by Schiff Hardin attorneys. Attorneys provide low-income residents critical access to legal assistance that helps protect their rights in landlord/tenant disputes, access government benefits, and mediate family law issues.
“We are honored to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this partnership and recognize our many current and former colleagues who have given their time and skills to help CVLS clients from the Rogers Park community,” said Paula Ketcham, a Schiff Hardin partner who oversees the firm’s pro bono work. “This milestone not only celebrates the impactful pro bono work done in years past, but also the importance of continuing to serve in the years ahead.”
The CVLS-Schiff clinic at the Howard Area Community Center has served more than 2,700 clients since opening. Over the past four decades, more than 500 Schiff Hardin lawyers have worked 75,000+ pro bono hours and donated more than $15 million in legal services for CVLS clinic clients. CVLS, a preeminent pro bono civil legal aid provider, now regularly works with law firms to follow a similar format as the one started with Schiff Hardin, serving almost 1,300 clients per year through their 24 legal clinics across Chicago.
“Schiff Hardin was a pioneer. Back when other law firms weren’t interested in helping poor people with their everyday legal problems, the lawyers at Schiff recognized that these types of cases were significant – to the clients, to the community, and to Chicago. Schiff was the first firm to step up to make sure that the legal system would work for everyone, not just the few,” said CVLS Executive Director Meg Benson.
Members of the Schiff Hardin group who originally staffed the clinic remain with the firm today, including Partner Paul Dengel and Managing Partner Marci Eisenstein. Throughout Schiff Hardin’s 150-year history, the firm’s attorneys have represented a wide variety of pro bono clients – including CVLS clients from Rogers Park, death row inmates and other wrongfully convicted prisoners, students experiencing discrimination and other civil rights violations, children in DCFS custody, immigrants facing persecution or deportation, juveniles in criminal delinquency proceedings, individuals seeking to protect their civil liberties, and many organizations that improve the lives of people in local communities and worldwide.
About Chicago Volunteer Legal Services
With more than 50 years of experience, CVLS is the first and pre-eminent pro bono civil legal aid provider in Chicago. Thanks to over 2,400 volunteer attorneys CVLS provides the most comprehensive, efficient and cost-effective civil legal aid in Chicago. CVLS' mission is to coordinate, support and promote the voluntary pro bono legal representation of the Chicago area's poor and working poor.