Jenner & Block

Lindsay C. Harrison

Partner

What kind of pro bono work do you do at the Firm?

I have done mostly appellate pro bono work at the Firm.  I have argued an asylum case on behalf of a Cameroonian asylum-seeker in both the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.  I have represented another asylum-seeker in the U.S. Supreme Court.  And I have written amicus briefs in a variety of Supreme Court cases involving issues such as crack-cocaine sentencing, equal protection challenge to U.S. citizenship laws, habeas corpus rights of detainees, and voting rights.   I have also worked closely with the Heartland Alliance National Immigrant Justice Center to bring appellate matters involving asylum law to the Firm, which have provided opportunities for many associates to argue in the federal courts of appeals.

I have also worked on non-appellate matters, including a death penalty case challenging Georgia’s burden of proof for defendants to demonstrate mental retardation.  And I have advised non-profit organizations such as Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, and the National Law Center on Poverty and Homelessness on litigation strategy.

Describe one or two of the most significant pro bono cases you have worked on while at the Firm.
The most significant pro bono case I have worked on at Jenner & Block is the asylum case of Jean Marc Nken.  Nken is an asylum-seeker from Cameroon who was jailed and beaten there for his political activism in seeking true democratic governance.  Nken’s case came to us after he lost his first asylum case and he was detained and set for deportation.  We took his appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, ensuring that he could remain in the United States with his U.S. citizen wife and young son while we fought for his asylum claim.  I have worked with more than 25 Jenner attorneys over the course of three years (and counting) to ensure that Nken prevailed in the Supreme Court, the Fourth Circuit, the Bureau of Immigration Appeals, and the Immigration Judge.  Our efforts have ensured that he could remain here with his family and avoid grave danger that would come to him if he were deported to Cameroon.

Why is it important to you to do pro bono?
Pro bono work makes me a better person and a better lawyer.  My father emigrated from the Soviet Union in the 1970s in order to escape persecution and to afford me and my family a better life in the United States.  Through my pro bono work, I have had the good fortune to provide a similar opportunity to my clients, keeping asylum-seekers safe from persecution and protecting many of the civil rights that make this country free and just.  I have also had incredible opportunities through pro bono work to argue in the U.S. Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals and to collaborate with some of the leading civil rights lawyers in the country on cutting edge litigation.

How has Jenner & Block supported you in your pro bono practice?
Jenner & Block has encouraged me to pursue pro bono work and has given me the resources, support and mentoring to ensure that I would succeed.  As an associate, I was mooted by over 10 attorneys at various times to prepare me for appellate arguments and many other attorneys assisted with briefing and research as well.  Every single attorney whose assistance I sought out was enthusiastic and supportive in response.  This has continued in my work as a partner, with the firm saying “yes” to every pro bono case I have sought to pursue.

How has pro bono helped you professionally?
Pro bono work has given me opportunities to argue in court and take the lead on briefing.  It has made me a better writer, a better strategist, and a more experienced advocate.  I can sell myself to clients as someone with experience arguing in court because pro bono cases have given me the opportunities to do so.

What would you tell others about your experience doing pro bono?
My experience in pro bono matters has been one of the best parts of being a lawyer at Jenner and Block.

Kelly M. Morrison

Associate

What kind of pro bono work do you do at the Firm?
I have worked on a range of pro bono projects at Jenner & Block including representation of a Guatemalan man seeking political asylum, representation of death row inmates challenging California’s lethal injection protocol, and representation of a death row inmate in a section 1983 civil rights case.

Describe one or two of the most significant pro bono cases you have worked on while at the Firm.
A colleague and I are seeking political asylum on behalf of a Guatemalan man who has been persecuted as a result of his sexual orientation.  There were some procedural issues with his case (the government has lost him in its system at least twice), but we have filed his petition for asylum along with supporting materials detailing country conditions in Guatemala and evidence of the persecution he has suffered.  We are awaiting a hearing date for a merits hearing before an Immigration Judge.

In another case, two Los Angeles associates and I are assisting a Chicago partner and co-counsel at other firms in challenging California’s lethal injection protocol as unconstitutional.  The case has been in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California since 2006, and the State of California has already revised the protocol once in light of the Court’s concerns.  We are currently challenging the new protocol as not passing constitutional muster because it creates a substantial and unjustified risk of excruciating pain and, therefore, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.  As part of the discovery phase, the Jenner & Block team, along with others, participated in an evidentiary hearing with Judge Fogel in San Quentin’s death chamber.  The parties are still engaged in discovery regarding the new protocol, but the Judge has already ruled that all California executions are stayed pending a final evidentiary hearing.

Why is it important to you to do pro bono?
While the billable work we do at Jenner & Block is fascinating and rewarding, doing pro bono allows me to feel like I’m making an actual impact in the lives of real people.  It’s important to me that pro bono always be a part of my practice.

How has Jenner & Block supported you in your pro bono practice?
Jenner & Block has gone above and beyond in supporting me and my colleagues in our desire to do pro bono work.  The Firm approves virtually every pro bono matter that is proposed, and has always assisted us to locate the types of cases we want to work on.  The Firm always approves the expenses needed to give our pro bono clients the very best representation.  We were so impressed and pleased that the Firm authorized funding for all four Jenner & Block attorneys to travel to the Bay Area to attend the evidentiary hearing at San Quentin.

How has pro bono helped you professionally?
In addition to being rewarding on a personal level, pro bono matters frequently provide excellent training opportunities to young associates.  My very first time in front of a judge was an asylum hearing during which I had the opportunity to present the testimony of my client, the testimony of our expert, and closing argument.  That experience helped immensely the first time I argued a motion.  

What would you tell others about your experience doing pro bono?
My pro bono work has provided me with some of the most rewarding opportunities of my time as an attorney, both on a personal and a professional level.  In addition to the training opportunities available, pro bono matters frequently present an opportunity to learn an interesting area of the law that one might not otherwise encounter through firm billable work.

Wade A. Thomson

Partner

What kind of pro bono work do you do at the Firm?

I have worked on a wide variety of pro bono cases, primarily focusing on asylum and criminal law.  One of the greatest attributes of our pro bono program is the breadth of pro bono matters you can choose to work on.

I have worked on over a dozen asylum cases at Jenner & Block, primarily through the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC).  Our Firm regularly partners with NIJC on asylum matters, and through my work on its cases I have joined NIJC’s Leadership Council.  Through asylum cases, I have been able to help many people start new lives in the United States.  I have also been able to combine the protection of human rights with my dedication to a free press.  Specifically, I have represented four journalists seeking asylum.  I have also assisted children from Guatemala who have fled abusive homes, and victims of torture from several countries.

In addition to my asylum work, I have represented several clients in criminal matters, including murder cases.  These criminal cases have provided me the opportunity to assist those who could not afford adequate representation, achieve a better understanding of our criminal justice system, work on high-profile matters, and obtain significant litigation experience.  I have cross-examined police officers, vetted experts, prepared cases for jury trial, and interviewed numerous witnesses under difficult circumstances.

Describe one or two of the most significant pro bono cases you have worked on while at the Firm.
I represented a Haitian journalist who was repeatedly beaten and received death threats because of his broadcasts.  He fled Haiti with his wife who was at the time eight months pregnant.  When they arrived in Chicago, the couple was frightened, spoke very little English and had nowhere to stay.  Our representation became much more than legal advice.  We helped the couple find housing, clothing, and support for their newborn child.  After we obtained asylum for the family in the United States, we still had to get their 11-year-old daughter out of Haiti, but this task was complicated by the hurricanes that hit Haiti in 2008.  After months of advocating, we got the daughter out of Haiti and accompanied the family to pick her up at O’Hare airport.  I am now the godfather to the youngest daughter of this amazing family.

Why is it important to you to do pro bono?
For me, the duty to perform pro bono stems from the simple realization that I’m in a place to help others, and if the roles were reversed I would want someone in my position to help me.  Pro bono makes me a more grounded person, a better lawyer, and has enriched my life in countless ways.

We are taught in law school how important it is to that everyone has adequate legal representation, but not until you are in practice do you understand how significant pro bono representation really is to our legal system.

How has Jenner & Block supported you in your pro bono practice?
Most significantly, Jenner & Block has provided me, and numerous others, the opportunity to bring in the pro bono matters that are most significant to me.   There are no shortage of worthy and interesting pro bono opportunities at Jenner & Block.  The ability for young associates to have significant say over what they work on is a key aspect to our pro bono program.

How has pro bono helped you professionally?
In addition to the many other benefits I have received from pro bono work (e.g., increased awareness, gratitude of clients, professional recognition), it has also helped me become a better lawyer.  I have been the lead decision-maker on numerous pro bono matters, was the face of the firm for the clients, opposing counsel, and judges, and developed numerous skills that translate over to my litigation practice.  Among other things, I have had substantial roles in drafting, oral arguments, and trials that an associate might not always get in billable matters.  Pro bono work provides associates with transferable skills and confidence.

What would you tell others about your experience doing pro bono?
Many Jenner & Block attorneys are proud to say that some of their most memorable victories in their legal careers were pro bono cases.  With all the negative things said about lawyers, pro bono is a reminder of the good lawyers can do.

Pro bono has broadened my horizons in several ways.  Through pro bono work, I have met numerous special people from many different walks of life (from children of parents who are incarcerated, to foreign journalists, to prosecutors, to prominent attorneys at other large law firms, to members of Congress), and have done things I never expected.  I have lobbied members of Congress in Washington, D.C. on behalf of pro bono clients, travelled to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to protect clients’ rights, and became the godfather to the child of one of my pro bono clients.

Allison A. Torrence

Associate

What kind of pro bono work do you do at the Firm?
I have worked on a few different pro bono cases that were brought in by partners at the Firm.  The partners brought me on the case and gave me opportunities to take charge of the cases and get great experience.

Describe one or two of the most significant pro bono cases you have worked on while at the Firm.
The most significant pro bono case I have worked on involves the permitting of a major source of air pollution in South Dakota.  We represent several non-profit groups who are challenging the air permit issued by the State of South Dakota.  In this case, I have been involved in every aspect of the litigation.  I have taken and defended depositions, presented expert witnesses at a hearing, cross-examined witnesses at a hearing, argued motions and made closing arguments.

Why is it important to you to do pro bono?
It is important to do pro bono work because it is a great way to give back to the community and help those who would not otherwise be able to afford high quality legal services.  All of my pro bono clients have been extremely grateful for the time and skill Jenner & Block has donated to their cases.

How has Jenner & Block supported you in your pro bono practice?
Jenner & Block is very supportive of my pro bono practice.  We have the full resources of the Firm available to us, including amazing support staff.

How has pro bono helped you professionally?
I have had amazing opportunities to develop my skills as a litigator through my pro bono work.  I now have experience with depositions, expert witnesses, cross examination, and oral arguments.  Even as a young attorney, I was able to manage pro bono matters and gain firsthand experience that helps me in all of the other aspects of my legal career.

What would you tell others about your experience doing pro bono?
My pro bono work has been educational and has helped me gain the skills needed to be an effective litigator.  It is also very personally rewarding to help out people who are in true need of legal assistance.  On my current pro bono case I represent a small non-profit organization.  On my first trip to participate in a hearing on the matter, another associate and I arrived in the client’s small town the night before the hearing.  We were surprised to be greeted by over 50 members of our client organization who came out to meet their legal team and thank us for our work.  One member told me, “The happiest day in my life is when I heard that Jenner & Block had agreed to take our case.”  It has been amazing to have such a deep and direct impact on these people’s lives.

Eddie A. Jauregui

Associate

Describe one or two of the most significant pro bono cases you have worked on while at the Firm.
Matter of Julio Patricio Baculima Guaylacela (Application for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status).  I am currently representing an immigrant minor from Ecuador in obtaining legal status in the United States under the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (“SIJS”) program.  SIJS was created by Congress to enable undocumented immigrant children who have suffered parental abuse, neglect or abandonment to obtain lawful permanent residence in the U.S. when returning to their home country would not be in their best interests.

Torres-Cuesta v. Berberich, et al.  In July, I concluded a bench trial in a police brutality case in the Eastern District of New York.  Our client, Juliano Torres-Cuesta, who is incarcerated, sued three law enforcement officers belonging to a federal drug enforcement task force, as well as the United States, for beating him during his arrest after a car chase.  Mr. Torres-Cuesta sued under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics and the Federal Tort Claims Act.  The case was tried before Judge Allyne R. Ross.

The trial was conducted from July 11 through July 14, 2011.  Under the supervision of Andrew Weissmann, associate Paul Monteleoni and myself, we conducted the entire trial taking the testimony of plaintiff and his witnesses, cross-examining the defendants and defense witnesses, and delivering the opening and closing arguments.  On Monday, August 1, 2011, the court issued an opinion and order deciding the case against our client.  The district court stated that she believed that the testimony of each of the parties was, at least in part, unreliable.  Judge Ross concluded that “the evidence [was] in equipoise” and “solely because the burden of proof rests on plaintiff, and despite [her] concerns about the veracity of the arresting officers,” she was “constrained” to find that the officers were not liable on the central claims in the case.  Op. at 2.  After going into detail about the aspects of the testimony of our client and of the officers that she found unreliable, Judge Ross stated “I . . . believe that it is equally likely that the officers gratuitously and severely beat plaintiff as it is that they used only the force necessary to effect the arrest.”  Id. at 31.  Judge Ross also indicated that she credited that our client was in fact injured, rejecting the defendants’ suggestion that he was malingering.

Why is it important to you to do pro bono?  
I have seen how inaccessible the courts and legal system can be for poor and disenfranchised persons.  As an attorney, I feel privileged to have access to the courts and understand how the law works.  I want to share that privilege with other people and my pro bono work allows me to do that.

How has Jenner & Block supported you in your pro bono practice?
Jenner & Block has encouraged and supported my pro bono work since my first day at the Firm.  My partner mentors have provided incredible guidance on complicated matters and devoted many of their own hours to our pro bono cases.  In addition, the firm’s secretaries and paralegals have provided support to my colleagues and me by lending their talents to our matters.  During my recent trial, the paralegals and project assistants worked as hard as the attorneys, putting in very long hours and treating the case with the utmost care.  The firm is serious about its commitment to pro bono and it shows.

How has pro bono helped you professionally?
I’ve been given incredible professional opportunities through my pro bono work.  In the past few months alone, I conducted and defended expert depositions and tried a case in federal court, where I gave the opening statement and cross-examined two of the three defendants in the case.

What would you tell others about your experience doing pro bono?
My happiest and most rewarding moments as a lawyer – and some of my most challenging – have come from doing pro bono.  Through my pro bono work I have helped to change people’s lives for the better and, in the process, I grew tremendously as a person and an attorney.

Keri L. Holleb Hotaling

Keri Holleb Hotaling

Partner

What kind of pro bono work do you do at the firm? 

I currently chair the firm’s Domestic Violence Pro Bono Program. Through the program, volunteer Jenner & Block attorneys aid clients in obtaining both emergency and plenary orders of protection in the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Domestic Violence Division.  In my supervisory role, I lead the Firm’s efforts in recruiting associates and partners to volunteer their time for the program, manage the monthly attorney schedule, and supervise associates participating in the program.  My pro bono practice also includes representing clients in civil rights matters and class action litigation in federal and state courts. 

Describe one or two of the most significant pro bono cases you have worked on while at the firm.

I was a member of the Firm’s team in a first-of-its-kind class action lawsuit filed on behalf of women prisoners at the Taycheedah Correctional Institution (TCI) – Wisconsin’s largest women’s prison.  The suit alleged that grossly deficient medical and mental health care jeopardized the lives of the female prisoners and caused great physical pain and mental anguish.  It contended that the prison’s health system violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection because the women received mental health care far inferior to what male prisoners receive.

As part of the settlement, state officials agreed to implement a number of significant improvements to ensure that constitutionally adequate levels of care are provided to all TCI inmates and that female prisoners receive the same levels of mental health care as the state’s male prisoners.  Among other things, TCI must attain medical accreditation and hire a new associate medical director who will be on-site five days a week to oversee all clinical care, help develop quality improvements and evaluate clinical staff.  The agreement sets forth new standards of care for the prison to meet, including giving inmates a daily opportunity to ask for health care, ensuring proper follow-up care, providing 24-hour emergency medical services and health screening for all incoming prisoners and providing medications on time.

State officials must also complete construction of an off-site women’s resource center that will accept prisoners who need inpatient-level psychiatric services.  Additionally, a number of improvements must be made to ensure the safety and access to core programs and services of prisoners with disabilities.

Why is it important to you to do pro bono?

My pro bono work is the legal work that I am most proud of.  When you do pro bono work you know you are making a difference because you can feel it. 

How has Jenner & Block supported you in your pro bono practice? 

Jenner & Block has always been 100% supportive of my pro bono work.  The firm also is committed to its numerous pro bono programs, including the Domestic Violence Pro Bono Program.  Since the inception of the Program in 2011, Jenner & Block attorneys have contributed approximately 1,400 pro bono attorney hours.  Every month, I am impressed with the associates and partners who step up and volunteer their time to make the program a success.

How has pro bono helped you professionally? 

As a young associate, I was able to take my first deposition and get my first courtroom experiences on my pro bono matters.  As a young partner, my pro bono work has also allowed me to take on a new leadership role and develop new skills.

What would you tell others about your experience doing pro bono?

My pro bono matters have always been my most rewarding work.  One of the reasons why is because I choose to work on pro bono matters that touch on issues that I care about deeply.  In the last six years, I have maintained a pro bono practice that has focused on matters that largely impact women and that has been extraordinarily satisfying for me personally.

Christopher B. Lay

Toward the end of 2012, I was able to take on a pro bono Seventh Circuit appeal.  The amount of supervision and mentoring I received, from the day I sat in Barry Levenstam’s office to review available cases, to the oral argument itself, was nothing short of amazing.  Mike Brody supervised me on a day-to-day basis, answering countless questions and raising issues that only his years of excellent practice in the Seventh Circuit could illuminate.  Mike and Barry carefully reviewed the briefs, and observed my moot court sessions as the oral argument approached.  In addition, nine partners spent their valuable time reading the briefs and putting me through tough questioning during three moot court sessions.  Seven people from Jenner & Block attended the oral argument, with Mike and Barry sitting at counsel’s table with me, passing notes.  Mike got there an hour and a half early to walk me around the courtroom.  My thanks to the firm for encouraging us to take on these pro bono projects, and to the many attorneys who mentored me during this project.  The training doesn’t get any better than this.

LINDSAY C. HARRISON
Office(s):
Washington, DC
Law Schools(s):
Harvard Law School
KELLY M. MORRISON
Office(s):
Los Angeles
Law Schools(s):
University of Virginia School of Law
Started with firm:
2009
WADE A. THOMSON
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
University of Illinois College of Law
Started with firm:
2004
ALLISON A. TORRENCE
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
University of Chicago Law School
EDDIE A. JAUREGUI
Office(s):
Los Angeles
Law Schools(s):
Columbia University School of Law
KERI L. HOLLEB HOTALING
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
University of Virginia School of Law
Started with firm:
2005
CHRISTOPHER B. LAY
Office(s):
Chicago
Law Schools(s):
Loyola University Chicago School of Law