Jenner & Block

February 21, 2017 Partner Leah Tulin Represents Congressman in Student Art Dispute

Jenner & Block Partner Leah J. Tulin is working on a pro bono basis in the First Amendment case of a former high school student whose award-winning painting was removed from public display in the US Capitol after it became the subject of a negative media campaign.  Ms. Tulin is representing the artist, David Pulphus, and Rep. William Lacy Clay of Missouri, who each year sponsors a student artist from his district as part of the annual Congressional Art Competition.  For the 2016 competition, Mr. Clay sponsored a painting by Mr. Pulphus called “Untitled #1,” which depicts a scene from Ferguson, MO, with police officers and protestors represented as animals.  After being on public display in the Cannon Tunnel in the US Capitol Complex for nearly seven months, the Architect of the Capitol ordered the painting removed in response to pressure from a number of conservative media outlets and a group of lawmakers.  

In a lawsuit filed in federal district court on February 21, 2017, Ms. Tulin and the team allege that the painting’s removal violated the First Amendment free speech rights of Mr. Pulphus and Mr. Clay.  It is a basic and fundamental principle that the First Amendment prohibits the government from limiting or prohibiting speech just because it disagrees with a speaker’s viewpoint, according to the complaint.  The suit names the Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers as the defendant.

Joining Ms. Tulin on the team are Associates Tassity Johnson and Sati Harutyunyan.

News of the federal lawsuit was reported by media outlets including the St. Louis Post Dispatch, The Hill and The Washington Post.

TAGS: art, First Amendment, student

December 28, 2016 Firm’s Pro Bono Client Featured in Four-Part Sun Times Series

Jesse Webster, the firm’s pro bono client who was granted executive clemency after serving 20 years of a life sentence on charges related to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, is the subject of a four-part series by Chicago Sun Times columnist Mary Mitchell.  The series chronicles Mr. Webster’s run-in with the law at age 26 and how he had been in prison for 14 years and lost several appeals when he “crossed paths” with Partner Jessica Ring Amunson.  A federal appeals court appointed the firm in 2009 to represent Webster in his last, and final, appeal. Ms. Amunson is photographed and quoted throughout the series, telling Ms. Mitchell that, “I was honest about how much odds were against” clemency.  “But I decided to take on his clemency case because I could not understand why someone like Jesse would be spending the rest of his life in jail for a non-violent drug offense.  It just made no sense to me that our criminal justice system would work that way.”

On March 30, 2016, President Obama granted executive clemency to Mr. Webster and 60 other individuals “serving years in prison under outdated and unduly harsh sentencing laws,” according to the White House. The series tells of Mr. Webster’s work to re-integrate himself in society since his release, including getting a job at Catholic Charities.  It also describes Mr. Webster’s first face-to-face meeting with Ms. Amunson, in October at a restaurant in downtown Chicago.  “It wasn’t like I was meeting her for the first time,” Mr. Webster says.  “I felt like I knew her.”  Ms. Amunson is quoted saying, “It was a pretty amazing thing to be a part of helping someone spend the rest of their life with their family, rather than spending the rest of their life in prison.”

In addition to Ms. Amunson, Partner Barry Levenstam and Associate Caroline DeCell worked on the case. The team’s efforts included petitioning Capitol Hill and sharing Mr. Webster’s story with major media outlets such as the New York Times.  Ms. Mitchell also wrote several columns about Mr. Webster in the past and published Mr. Webster’s open letter to youth.  “It took a lot of caring people to get Webster back home safely,” the series concludes. “Without them, he would still be wasting away behind bars.”

December 2016

December 2016

December 2016

December 2016

TAGS: Appellate, clemency

December 27, 2016 Firm Files Amicus Brief in High-Profile Suit Regarding Detainees’ Right to Sue Officials

An amicus brief filed on behalf of a number of immigrant rights groups argues that the US Supreme Court should permit immigrants detained in the wake of 9/11 the right to sue top officials for civil rights violations.  In 2015, the Second Circuit ruled in favor of the detainees, but last October, the Court agreed to take on three petitions in the consolidated case: one from ex-Attorney General John Ashcroft and ex-FBI Director Robert Mueller; one from ex-Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner James Ziglar; and one from Dennis Hasty and James Sherman, respectively the former warden and associate warden of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where the detainees were held.  The firm’s brief is among at least 10 amicus briefs filed in support of detainees.

The brief argues that the detainees can sue the federal officials under the Bivens doctrine.  That doctrine stems from the 1971 Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents decision in which the Supreme Court held that plaintiffs can sue individual federal officials for monetary damages when no other remedy is available to protect a constitutional right.

Denying a Bivens remedy, the brief says, “would effectively immunize tens of thousands of federal officers, and large swaths of federal law enforcement activity, from damages, no matter how egregious the officers’ conduct.”  The brief continues, it “would effectively immunize federal officers from damages liability even for torture, so long as the torture arises in a context involving national security or noncitizens.  This Court should reject that extreme position and affirm the critical importance of a Bivens remedy in deterring unconstitutional conduct and enforcing constitutional rights.”

News of the amicus brief was reported in Law360.

The brief was written by Partner Matthew E. Price and Associates Marina K. Jenkins, Tassity S. Johnson and Michael E. Stewart.

TAGS: detainees

December 6, 2016 Financial Times Recognizes Firm for Innovation in Social Responsibility

Jenner & Block has been recognized by the Financial Times (FT) in its North America Innovative Lawyers 2016 Report, which highlights the firm's pro bono work in a landmark US Supreme Court case.

The firm was designated as a “Standout” – FT’s highest rating – and ranked #2 overall among all law firms in the “Social Responsibility–Pro Bono Cases” category for an important win in the representation of Gregory Welch.  Mr. Welch was sentenced to a mandatory minimum of 15years’ imprisonment based on the “residual clause” of the Armed Career Criminal Act—a statutory provision that the Supreme Court subsequently struck down because it was so vague that it violated the Constitutional right to due process.  In Welch v. United States, fifth-year Associate Amir H. Ali argued to the Supreme Court that its decision striking down the residual clause must be applied retroactively to people like Mr. Welch, whose conviction and sentence had already become final.  The Court agreed in a 7-1 vote.  In announcing the recognition, FT noted that the firm “proved that thousands of inmates were serving unconstitutional sentences and achieved a rare Supreme Court ruling” in favor of those inmates.

In addition to Mr. Ali, the firm’s team included Partners Lindsay C. Harrison and Matthew E. Price, Associates R. Trent McCotter and Joshua M. Parker, former Law Clerk Adrienne L. Benson, Senior Paralegal Cheryl L. Olson, Docketing Assistant Tyler J. Edwards, Legal Assistant Mary “Beth” E. Gulden and Legal Secretary Curlene B. Wellington.

TAGS: Financial Times, Welch v United States

December 1, 2016

Moments in History: Jenner & Block's 100-Year Story

Juan Rivera’s Conviction Is Reversed

Freedom for Juan Rivera Hugging His MomFreedom for Juan Rivera Hugging His MomDecember marks the fifth anniversary of the Illinois Appellate Court for the Second District reversing the conviction of pro bono client Juan Rivera.  Mr. Rivera had been convicted of the 1992 rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl.  The Illinois court found insufficient evidence to support his conviction in light of the DNA evidence excluding him as the perpetrator.

Click here to learn more about the case.

TAGS: Moments in History, Wrongful Conviction

November 18, 2016 Firm Files Amicus Brief in Support of California Statute to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence

Partner Daniel A. Rozansky, Associate AnnaMarie A. Van Hoesen and Law Clerk Daixi Xu submitted an amicus brief in conceNovember 2016rt with the (FVAP) on behalf of FVAP and 10 other California-based nonprofit organizations that work with domestic violence survivors and their children.  Filed in the California Court of Appeal for the Second District, the amicus brief supports the appellant, a victim of domestic violence, in appealing an order granting joint custody of her two young daughters to her abusive partner.  Although California Family Code Section 3044 creates a rebuttable presumption against awarding custody to domestic abusers, trial courts such as this one have repeatedly failed to apply that presumption or properly consider the factors required to rebut it.  As set forth in the brief, joint custody arrangements provide the opportunity for batterers to further abuse their former partners and their children.  Studies have found that victims of domestic violence face serious safety risks in such custody arrangements and that children exposed to domestic violence are 74 percent more likely to commit crimes against other people, 50 percent more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and much more likely to abuse their own partners.  Accordingly, the brief urges the court of appeal to provide much needed guidance so that trial courts will understand and effectuate the legislative intent to protect children from the known harms associated with granting custody to domestic abusers.

TAGS: California statute, Family Violence Appellate Project

November 10, 2016 DC, Chicago Lawyers Assist Non-Profit in Spin-Off from Sponsor

A team of Jenner & Block lawyers recently provided pro bono assistance to the Young Center, a nonprofit whose mission is to promote the best interests of unaccompanied immigrant children arriving in the United States.  The Young Center, which has offices in several major US cities, sought to spin off and become an independent entity from another nonprofit that had been its sponsor.  Jenner & Block Partner Richard F. Levy is a member of the Young Center’s Board of Directors and in addition to giving his time, he arranged for the firm to provide pro bono assistance to the organization.  Partners D. Joe Smith, Carrie F. Apfel, S. Tony Ling and Peter H. Rosenbaum; Of Counsel Emma J. Sullivan; and Associate Grant B. Schweikert provided counsel on multiple aspects of the Young Center’s separation, including the novation of its contract with the US Department of Health and Human Services; drafting transactional agreements governing its spin-off; providing counsel regarding certain labor and employee benefit matters; and advising its Board of Directors in connection with the spin-off.  The spin-off was completed on October 1.  To read a letter of appreciation to Jenner & Block Managing Partner Terrence J. Truax from the Young Center’s executive director and managing director, please click here.

TAGS: Young Center

November 4, 2016 Firm Hosts Immigration Clinic for Synchrony Financial Legal Department

November 4, 2016On November 4, Jenner & Block’s New York office hosted a half-day pro bono immigration / naturalization clinic for the Legal Department of client Synchrony Financial. The clinic was organized with the assistance of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) and brought more than 30 members of the Synchrony Legal Department into the New York office for a half-day of training and legal service. The attorneys were trained on assisting with naturalization paperwork for green card holders, and then spent the rest of the morning paired up with clinic participants who they helped fill out the paperwork needed to apply for U.S. citizenship. The clinic was organized in New York by Partners Joseph L. Noga and Michael W. Ross, with the capable assistance of New York’s Legal Assistance Group’s support staff.

TAGS: Legal Department of client Synchrony Financial

October 26, 2016 Former Managing Partner Susan Levy Recognized for Commitment to Pro Bono

October 2016Jenner & Block’s former managing partner Susan C. Levy was honored by the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services (LAS) at its 2016 award luncheon on October 26.  Ms. Levy, now executive vice president and general counsel at Northern Trust, was presented with the LAS William H. Avery Award for Equal Access to Justice for her contributions to pro bono and community service.  Firm Chairman Anton R. Valukas interviewed Ms. Levy during the program segment of the luncheon, asking her questions about her tenure as Jenner & Block’s first woman managing partner and about her commitment to giving back. Ms. Levy noted that the firm’s emphasis on pro bono was one of the features that attracted her when she was deciding where to practice after graduating from Harvard Law School.  “We used to call it ‘the Jenner tax,’” she recalled, explaining that some of everyone’s salary supports the firm’s pro bono work.  The award event was attended by 325 members of Chicago’s legal community and raised more than $365,000 for the Legal Aid Society. 

Jenner & Block’s Litigation Department Chair Craig C. Martin was a member of the event’s Host Committee.  Partner William D. Heinz recently completed 30 years as a member of Metropolitan Family Services Board of Directors and the LAS Advisory Board.  Partner Amanda S. Amert is now serving as an LAS  board member, and Partner John R. Storino is a new member of the Metropolitan Family Services Board of Directors.  An article about the award event appeared in the October 31 issue of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

Photograph by LeVern Danley, LAD4 Creations

TAGS: Legal Aid Society, S Levy

October 14, 2016 Firm Participates in “Pro Bono Week” Events, Partner Andrew Vail Co-Chairs Chicago Citywide Observance

The week of October 23-29, 2016 has been designated National Pro Bono Celebration Week by the American Bar Association and Jenner & Block’s Chicago and Washington, DC offices are marking the week with special activities.

Jenner & Block Partner Andrew W. Vail is co-chair of the weeklong Chicago Bar Association/Chicago Bar Foundation’s 12th annual citywide observance that will include many educational and social events.

Among these, on Monday, October 24, the firm’s Managing Partner Terrence J. Truax will participate in a panel discussion titled “Breaking Poverty Barriers to Equal Justice.”  The program, which will include a multimedia presentation, will be moderated by Illinois Appellate Court Judge Maureen Connors.

On Tuesday, October 25, Jenner & Block will host a “Breakfast With Judges.”  Members of the judiciary, both state and federal, will lead conversations about pro bono in the Chicago area at small roundtable discussions that will allow attendees the opportunity to participate.

The firm’s DC office will participate in the DC Bar Foundation’s eighth annual “Go Casual for Justice” during Pro Bono Week.  Funds raised through this initiative provide critical resources to DC's civil legal aid network and the Foundation's Loan Repayment Assistance Program benefitting the District’s legal aid providers.  For more information about the fundraiser, please click here.

TAGS: CBA, Pro bono week

October 13, 2016 Firm Regains Position on Law360’s Pro Bono Firms of Year List

2016Jenner & Block has once again been named to Law360’s list of the top pro bono firms in the United States.  This marks the sixth time the firm has been selected for the series, which began in 2010.

In a lengthy profile, Law360 highlighted the firm’s “influential wins at the US Supreme Court, lifesaving work for clients on death row and a firmwide commitment to pro bono work at every level.”

In the feature, Partner Adam G. Unikowsky explains why he got involved in the case of V.L. v. E.L., representing an adoptive parent who had essentially been stripped of her parental rights to her three children by the Alabama Supreme Court when her same-sex relationship with the biological mother ended.  Mr. Unikowsky told Law360, “I felt this … really was quite inconsistent with very settled law.  And … it really would have a terrible effect on families.”  He reached out to National Center for Lesbian Rights attorneys who had been working on the case and offered to help get it in front of the US Supreme Court, where the Alabama court’s actions were reversed.

Additionally, Associates Amir H. Ali and R. Trent McCotter relate their experience before the Supreme Court in Welch v. US, which Law360 called “a ruling that decisively invalidated unconstitutional prison sentences for thousands of incarcerated individuals.”  Mr. Ali describes the firm’s involvement as a “momentous opportunity to give a voice to people who would otherwise be voiceless,” while Mr. McCotter notes that the case “inspired a lot of other associates to realize that the pro bono work that they do is meaningful, and that they can stay in charge of the case, even at the highest level.”

The article also discusses Jeremy M. Creelan and Susan J. Kohlmann’s work with the Yale Law School Veterans Legal Services Clinic that is helping Vietnam veterans with PTSD that was undiagnosed when they left the service upgrade their other-than-honorable discharges.

TAGS: Law360

October 13, 2016 Jenner & Block’s DC Office Recognized for Providing Pro Bono Assistance in Housing Cases

On October 13, 2016, Jenner & Block’s Washington, DC office was recognized by the DC Bar Pro Bono Center for its participation in the Center’s Housing Right to Counsel Pilot Project.  The Project is a groundbreaking collaborative effort bringing together the legal services community and the private bar to reduce evictions from subsidized housing and resolve other housing issues.  More than 35,000 eviction cases are filed each year in the Landlord and Tenant Branch of the DC Superior Court.  Of these, approximately 95 percent of the tenants involved appear without legal representation, whereas approximately 95 percent of landlords have counsel.  The Project is part of the broader DC Housing Initiative, a communitywide coalition convened by the DC Bar Pro Bono Center and the DC Access to Justice Commission, to address the housing crisis in the District.

Partner Damon Y. Smith is coordinating the firm’s participation in the pilot project and supervising cases; Partners Kenneth L. Doroshow and Jerome L. Epstein are also supervising.  Associates handling cases have included Emily A. Bruemmerand Marguerite L. Moeller.   

The recognition event was reported in the DC Bar Newsletter on October 24.

TAGS: DC office, housing

October 6, 2016

Moments in History: Jenner & Block's 100-Year Story

Jean Marc Nken Asylum Case Anniversary

Lindsay Harrison US Supreme Court for pro bono blogOctober marks the fifth anniversary of the granting of asylum for pro bono client Jean Marc Nken.  Mr. Nken fled Cameroon in 2001 after having been jailed and tortured by the government for his participation in pro-democracy protests.  He lost his initial asylum case and several unsuccessful appeals and was set to be deported when Jenner &  Block Partner Lindsay C. Harrison took on his case. 

Click here to learn more about the case.

TAGS: L Harrison, Moments in History, US Supreme Court

October 4, 2016

Moments in History: Jenner & Block's 100-Year Story

Anniversary of Dowaliby Reversal

October marks the 25th anniversary of the Illinois Appellate Court reversing the conviction of pro bono client David Dowaliby in a high-profile case that centered on the kidnapping of Mr. Dowaliby’s 7-year-old daughter Jaclyn in 1988. The Illinois Appellate Court ruled the prosecutors failed to prove that no one else killed Jaclyn and that the evidence against him was not sufficient.

Click here to learn more about the case.

TAGS: Moments in History, Wrongful Conviction

September 26, 2016 Firm Joins Team of Organizations Challenging Alabama’s Disenfranchisement Law

Used for pro bono blogOn September 26, 2016, the firm joined a team of civil rights organizations that filed suit in Alabama district court on behalf of US citizens with past felony convictions who have been denied the right to vote due to the state’s felony disenfranchisement system.  The firm is working pro bono alongside the Campaign Legal Center and the Voting Rights Institute.

Thompson v. Alabama argues that the 14th Amendment does not allow the blanket disenfranchisement of citizens for minor non-violent offenses that are irrelevant to voting.  The lawsuit calls for the court to rule that the law is racially discriminatory, unconstitutional and a violation of the Voting Rights Act.  It also asserts a theory that, if successful, could limit the scope of permissible felony disenfranchisement nationwide.

Please click here to read more about the lawsuit.  News of the lawsuit was reported by several media outlets, including the New York Times, in an article and opinion piece, and Mother Jones.

TAGS: J Amunson, Thompson v Alabama, Voting

September 6, 2016 Anniversary of Second Circuit Decision in Pinnacle

For pro bono blog Sept. 6 2016

September marks the third anniversary of the firm’s victory in the Second Circuit on behalf of a class of 22,000 tenants and Pinnacle Group, one of New York City’s largest residential landlords that owned scores of rent-controlled apartments.   Capping a five-year legal battle, the Second Circuit affirmed a district court’s approval of a landmark settlement agreement between the parties.

Click here to read more and see a video about the case.

TAGS: Moments in History

September 1, 2016 Firm Wins Preliminary Injunction in North Carolina House Bill 2 Challenge

Jenner & Block achieved a significant early victory in its lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s House Bill 2, one of the most anti-LGBT laws in the nation.  Among its provisions, House Bill 2 effectively prohibits transgender North Carolinians from using the restrooms or other facilities consistent with their gender identity where they live, learn and work.  On August 26, 2016, a federal district court judge preliminarily enjoined the University of North Carolina (UNC) from enforcing House Bill 2 as to three plaintiffs represented by the firm – transgender students and employees at UNC institutions – holding that they are likely to succeed on the claim that House Bill 2 conflicts with the requirements of Title IX.

This decision followed months of effort by firm lawyers, working with colleagues from Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU ofNorth CarolinaIn addition to extensive expedited briefing,the team marshaled hundreds of pages of evidence in support of the preliminary injunction motion, documenting the frenzied enactment of the bill, the anti-LGBT animus that inspired it and its harmful impact on tens of thousands of transgender North Carolinians.  The decision also followed a nearly four-hour hearing held earlier in August, during which Jenner & Block Partner Paul M. Smith argued on behalf of the plaintiffs. 

In granting the injunction, the court rejected arguments by UNC – raised in fourrounds of briefing and in many procedural guises – that the claims against it were not justiciable ones.

In addition to Mr. Smith, the team on the case includes Partners Scott B. Wilkens and Luke C. Platzer; Associates Mark P. Gaber, Lorenzo G. Di Silvio, Thomas D. Garza and Nicholas W. Tarasen; and Senior Paralegal Cheryl L. Olson.

TAGS: House Bill 2, North Carolina, P Smith

August 22, 2016 Protecting Art, Sealing Legacies — The Story of Jason Wulf

Jason Wulf was a well-known graffiti artist in Queens, NY who was killed at the age of 42, electrocuted by the third rail in a Brooklyn subway station.  Jason’s death garnered significant media attention.  Others in the graffiti community took advantage of that media attention and began selling copies of his graffiti tags and other artwork to make money, without the permission of the Wulf family.  This was particularly upsetting for the Wulf family, who did not even have enough money to purchase a headstone for Jason.  That is when Jason’s sister, Christina, approached Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA), an organization that connects struggling artists with law firms for pro bono legal representation.  Christina was seeking assistance in obtaining copyright protection for Jason’s works.  VLA connected Christina to Jenner & Block, and the firm represented her in obtaining copyright registrations for Jason’s artwork.

First, the team had to navigate New York Surrogate’s Court and close out Jason’s estate.  Next, they facilitated the transfer of the copyrights in Jason’s works from Jason’s parents to Christina, which was accomplished through informal mediation between Christina and her parents.  Once Christina obtained the right to register Jason’s copyrights, the team selected the right pieces from Jason’s extensive collection of work for which to seek registration – they needed pieces that were broad enough to give Christina the most protection, but artistic enough to be copyrightable.  The area of graffiti as copyrightable artwork is a “hot” area in intellectual property law, and the team dug deep into recent case law and academic literature when choosing the pieces.

On April 29, 2015, Christina received copyright registrations for three of Jason’s pieces of artwork, giving her piece of mind, as well as great pride around her brother’s legacy.  The team consisted of Partner Andrew H. Bart, Associate Alison I. Stein, and former associate Ava McAlpin.  Partner Steven R. Englund provided invaluable assistance as well.

TAGS: graffiti, J Wulf, Video, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts

August 18, 2016 Partner Helps Second-Year Associate Win Second Pro Bono Jury Trial in Two Years

Pro bono blog Aug. 18 2016For the second time in two years, Jenner & Block Partner Louis E. Fogel and second-year Associate Emily K. McWilliams teamed up to win a jury trial for a pro bono client.  The case stemmed from a car accident that occurred in January 2015.  The client, Sakib Choudhury, initially filed a pro se complaint in the Circuit Court of Cook County, alleging that the defendant collided with his car while the defendant was attempting to merge lanes on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.  The defendant’s insurance company denied the claim, forcing Mr. Choudhury to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket to repair his car.  Although he prevailed at non-binding arbitration, the defendant’s insurance company still refused to settle the case. 

At that point, the Chicago Bar Association and CARPLS (Cook County’s largest provider of free legal services) reached out to the firm seeking pro bono representation for Mr. Choudhury.

After a one-day trial in which Ms. McWilliams conducted voir dire, selected the six-person jury, presented opening statement, questioned two witnesses on direct and re-direct examination, cross-examined the defendant’s fact witness and made the closing argument, the jury awarded Mr. Choudhury $3300, which was 30 percent more than the defendant’s final settlement offer.  The award included transportation-related costs for the four months that Mr. Choudhury did not have access to his vehicle.

Summer associates Mila Babic, Jing X. Quek and Smitha B. Uthaman attended the trial, joining Mr. Fogel and Ms. McWilliams in the judge’s chambers for argument on motions in limine and jury instructions.

TAGS: E McWilliams, L Fogel

August 1, 2016 Firm Provides Assistance to Cook County Public Defender’s Office

For pro bono blog: Firm Provides Assistance to Cook County Public Defender’s Office Jenner & Block’s work with Chicago’s Civic Consulting Alliance (CCA) to develop a series of advocacy-based trainings for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office was spotlighted in the CCA’s July 2016 newsletter.  Over the past several months, the firm collaborated with three other law firms to develop a unique training curriculum for lawyers in the Public Defender’s Office.  A team of firm lawyers including Partners Andrew W. Vail, Gabriel A. Fuentes, Barry Levenstam and Michael A. Scodro and Of Counsel Benjamin K. Miller contributed time and material to the project.  The newsletter article quoted Public Defender Amy Campanelli as saying, “Part of what is so exceptional about this project is that four of Chicago’s law firms came together with a common purpose: to equip the Public Defender to better serve the public.”  In addition to creating the initial training and advocacy materials, the firms developed a sustainability playbook that will allow us to provide ongoing support.

Last month, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle sent letters to the participating firm lawyers, thanking Jenner & Block for its commitment to helping the Public Defender’s Office provide the best representation possible for its clients.

TAGS: A Vail, B Levenstam, B Miller, Cook County Public Defenders office, G Fuentes, M Scodro

July 27, 2016 Watch Partner Andrew Merrick Accept the CBF Weigle Exceptional Young Lawyer Award

Picture of Maurice Weigle  Partner Andrew F. Merrick was named the recipient of the Chicago Bar Foundation’s (CBF) 2016 Maurice Weigle Exceptional Young Lawyer Award.  The award is named in memory of two exceptional lawyers – father and son – who each exhibited a lifelong devotion to the law and the community.  The son, Maurice S. Weigle, pictured to the right, was a Jenner & Block partner in the 1970s and ‘80s.  Specifically, the award is based on a lawyer’s contributions to furthering the ideals of the legal profession; making the organized bar an effective force for improving the profession and helping the community; and demonstrated commitment to pro bono and community service.  Please click  here to read more.

TAGS: A Merrick, Awards, CBF

July 21, 2016 Podcast Features Discussion on the Nicole Harris Case

For Nicole Harris podcast pro bono blog itemKaren Daniel, director of Northwestern Law School’s Center for Wrongful Convictions (CWC), discusses the Nicole Harris case on a recent Undisclosed podcast.  Working with the CWC, the firm represented Ms. Harris after she was wrongfully convicted of murdering her 4-year-old son in 2005.  The long-running case spanned more than seven years and involved litigating at every level of the state and federal judicial systems. Ultimately, Ms. Harris was freed from prison and exonerated of the crime.   She received a certificate of innocence from the court and was reunited with her surviving son.  In 2014, the firm and the CWC received the Seventh Circuit Bar Association’s 2014 Pro Bono and Public Service Award for their work on the case.  In the podcast, Ms. Daniel examines Ms. Harris’ false confession, given after she was subjected to police interrogation for more than 25 hours and held by herself in a cell.  “To this day, Nicole can’t explain why she confessed.  What we’ve learned is that everybody has a breaking point,” Ms. Daniel says.  To listen to the podcast, click here.  The discussion of Ms. Harris’ case starts at minute18:25.

TAGS: N Harris

July 15, 2016 Partner Paul Smith Discusses Firm’s Pro Bono Support of LGBT Community

Paul Smith headshot used for pro bono blogPartner Paul M. Smith notes the firm’s strong history of pro bono work in an article about law firms that are teaming up with advocacy groups to support the LGBT community.  Titled “The BigLaw Firms Fighting for Transgender Rights,” the article in Law360 explains that the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund have tapped Jenner & Block to challenge North Carolina’s controversial HB 2, which requires transgender people to use the bathroom that matches their birth certificate in public facilities.  The article notes that, in 2003, Mr. Smith won the landmark Lawrence v. Texas case, in which the US Supreme Court declared that sodomy bans were illegal.  “The firm culture is very, very pro bono-oriented, civil rights and civil liberties-oriented, but any kind of pro bono,” Mr. Smith says. “This is just one piece of that. It became a big part of our pro bono practice after Lawrence. There were just a lot of people who wanted to work on these issues. One thing leads to another and once you've got a connection with the organization, you know them and they trust you, you get more and more opportunities to do interesting things.”


July 13, 2016 Pro Bono Client Deserves a New Trial, Prosecutors Say

Partner Terri L. Mascherin is quoted in a Chicago Tribune article about pro bono client Adam Gray, who in 1996 was sentenced to mandatory life without parole for setting a fire that killed two people.  Now, prosecutors say that Mr. Gray deserves a new trial because dramatic advancements in fire science have “partially invalidated” expert testimony that was crucial to Mr. Gray’s arson and double murder conviction.  “We believe, based on what today’s science makes clear, that there is no evidence this fire was an arson.  We believe if this case is retried, the jury will find Adam Gray not guilty,” Ms. Mascherin says.  Other members of the team include Partner Daniel T. Fenske and Associate Brij B. Patnaik

TAGS: A Gray, B Patnaik, D Fenske, T Mascherin

July 11, 2016 Firm Files Law Suit to Prevent Condominium Towers Being Built in Brooklyn Park

For Richard Ziegler Brooklyn park condominium pro bono item

The firm is representing, on a pro bono basis, a Brooklyn neighborhood association that is battling the planned development of two residential towers at the Brooklyn Bridge Park.  The Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) recently filed suit against the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, other government entities, and the developers of the proposed building.  The BHA seeks to have the New  York State Supreme Court annul the June 7, 2016, vote to build the towers near the park’s Atlantic Avenue entrance and Pier 6.  According to a BHA press release, “The BHA, other community groups, and local elected officials have strongly advocated that this land instead by used as parkland and that the long-promised Atlantic Avenue entrance to the park be created.” Further, the BHA argues that revenue generated by the two towers would exceed the financial needs of the park. Partner Richard F. Ziegler is quoted in an article in Politico saying, “They’re going forward with a project that they admit is far larger than what they need to support the park.”  In addition to Politico, several other media outlets have reported on the dispute, including the New York Daily News, Brooklyn Paper, Crain’s New York Business, NY 1 News and The Real Deal.  In addition to Mr. Ziegler, others on the team representing the BHA include Partner Elizabeth A. Edmondson; Associates Daniel H. Wolf, David B. Diesenhouse and Kara K. Trowell; and Summer Associate Melissa Fedornak.

TAGS: Brooklyn Heights Association, R Ziegler

July 8, 2016 Firm Wins Post-Conviction Relief for Client in Prison Since 2000

On June 29, 2016, Cook County Circuit Court Judge James Obbish granted post-conviction relief to firm client Arturo Reyes, who has been in prison since 2000, convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and home invasion.  His conviction was largely based on a statement he signed after two plus days of questioning by four Chicago police detectives.  Prior to his trial, Mr. Reyes unsuccessfully moved to suppress his statement on the ground that it was coerced by an abusive detective, in violation of his due process rights.  Notably, no physical evidence connected Mr. Reyes to the crimes for which he was convicted – DNA analysis of evidence from the crime scene connect other people to the murders and do not match Mr. Reyes.  He has maintained his innocence.

The firm began representing Mr. Reyes in 2006, shortly after the Illinois Appellate Court reversed and remanded the dismissal of his initial post-conviction petition.  The firm helped Mr. Reyes amend his petition, which ultimately advanced to a third stage evidentiary hearing on the basis of his claim of newly discovered evidence that the detective who interrogated him had engaged in a pattern and practice of abuse and coercion that was not known to Mr. Reyes or the trial court when Mr. Reyes initially moved to suppress his confession.

At the third stage evidentiary proceedings, Partners Andrew W. Vail and David P. Saunders and Associate Michael T. Werner, with attorneys from Northwestern’s Center on Wrongful Conviction led by Karen Daniel, who represent Mr. Reyes’ co-petitioner, Gabriel Solache, presented Mr. Reyes, Mr. Solache and several witnesses who testified to the pattern and practice, among other evidence.  The lawyers also cross-examined the State’s witnesses and called the interrogating former detective to the stand.  He invoked his Fifth Amendment right to not testify in response to all questions. 

Based on the evidence, Judge Obbish determined that Mr. Reyes and Mr. Solache made a substantial showing that they had been denied their constitutional right to due process.  He ruled that they are entitled to a new motion to suppress hearing and further found that if the newly discovered evidence had been presented at the suppression hearing, “the outcome of petitioners’ previous motion to suppress likely would have been different.”

The firm team is led by Mr. Vail and includes Mr. Saunders and Mr. Werner, as well as Associate Hillary E. August; Staff Attorney Veronica Maldonado; Paralegal W. Michael Hughes; and Project Assistant Nicholas M. Perrone.  Partner David Jiménez-Ekman also contributed to Mr. Reyes’ representation.  An article about Mr. Reyes’ case and the winning of a new hearing was published by the Sun-Times.

TAGS: A Reyes, A Vail, D Saunders, M Werner

June 30, 2016 For 26 Years, Firm Maintains Top 10 Pro Bono Standing

Once again, Jenner & Block ranks among the top 10 in The American Lawyer’s guide to pro bono commitment among the nation’s 200 highest-grossing firms.  Based on 2015 hours, the firm ranks #7 in AmLaw’s 2016 guide.  Further, Jenner & Block is tied for 10th place in “breadth of commitment,” a chart that ranks firms by the percentage of US-based lawyers who performed more than 20 hours of work in 2015: 77 percent of Jenner & Block lawyers did so. In total, firm lawyers devoted 54,510 hours to pro bono work in 2015. AmLaw has ranked the firm #1 in pro bono seven times, most recently in 2015.

Please click here to read more of our pro bono statistics.

Earlier this year, Jenner & Block was named to The National Law Journal’s “Pro Bono Hot List,” one of only 10 law firms across the United States that made the list.

Please click here to read more about The National Law Journal’s “Pro Bono Hot List.”

TAGS: American Lawyer, Awards

June 23, 2016 Firm Wins 2016 Exceptional Service Award from the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project

Death Penalty Pro BonoThe firm has won the 2016 Exceptional Service Award from the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project.  In noting the “exceptionally strong” pool of applicants under consideration this year, the Project’s Awards Committee felt that the breadth of our past and present pro bono commitments, along with our influence on the development of capital punishment law, set us apart.

To read more, please click here to learn more about the firm’s submission for the award.

TAGS: ABA, Awards, Death Penalty

June 21, 2016 Settlement Secured Under “Keep Chicago Renting” Ordinance

With the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH), a firm team of Partner Christopher Tompkins and  Associate Jeremy S. Dunnaback helped obtain a settlement for a  pro bono client in a case that sought relief under the City of Chicago’s  “Protecting Tenants in Foreclosed Rental Property” Ordinance.  The ordinance, commonly known as the “Keep Chicago Renting” Ordinance, went into effect in 2013 to address a spike in evictions of renters living in properties that fell into foreclosure in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Please click here to read more about the case.

TAGS: C Tompkins, J Dunnaback, Lawyers Committee for Better Housing

June 14, 2016 Release from Prison Four Years Early

In 2005, client Juan Deshannon Butler was convicted of possession of a firearm after he voluntarily turned over a gun that had been forced upon him at gunpoint.  The trial court sentenced him to a mandatory minimum of 15 years under the Armed Career Criminal Act’s “residual clause” based on a prior conviction for “escape,” which involved walking away from a penal institution.  Mr. Butler sought relief, arguing that a 2009 Supreme Court case clarified that “escape” did not quality under the ACCA’s residual clause.  The US District Court for the District of Arizona concluded his claim was procedurally barred.  In September 2015, the firm offered to represent Mr. Butler pro bono before the US Supreme Court, challenging the court of appeals’ denial of his motion for relief.  By December 2015, the firm obtained a court order directing Mr. Butler’s immediate release from prison.

Please click here to read more.

June 9, 2016 Team Convinces State of Georgia to Dismiss Charges Against Client Facing Death Penalty

Death Penalty Pro BonoOn June 12, 2015, a team convinced the State of Georgia to voluntarily dismiss its case against the firm’s client Larry Lee, who had been on death row for 28 years. Mr. Lee had been convicted of three counts of murder and sentenced to death in November 1987, in Wayne County, Georgia, for his alleged role in the robbery and killing of a couple and their 14-year-old son in April 1986. Between 1987 and 2008, the case was on direct appeal and then went on to habeas proceedings.  Mr. Lee always maintained his innocence.

Please click here to read more.

TAGS: Death Penalty

June 7, 2016

Moments in History: Jenner & Block's 100-Year Story

Firm Secures US Supreme Court Victory in Case Regarding the Right to Effective Counsel

US Supreme Court Pro BonoJune marks the 13th anniversary of the firm’s victory on behalf of pro bono client Kevin Wiggins before the US Supreme Court.  Mr. Wiggins had been found guilty of capital murder after a bench trial in 1989; a jury sentenced him to death.  But the two public defenders did not thoroughly investigate Mr. Wiggins’ background and, therefore, former partner Donald Verrilli successfully argued, failed to tell the jury of “powerful mitigating evidence” that could have spared him that fate.  

Please click here to read more and see a video about the case.

TAGS: Moments in History, US Supreme Court

June 2, 2016

Moments in History: Jenner & Block's 100-Year Story

Victory in Witherspoon Case Reforms Jury Selection Process in Capital Cases

US Supreme Court Pro BonoJune marks the 48th anniversary of the firm’s victory on behalf of pro bono client William Witherspoon before the US Supreme Court.  The case would have major implications for how juries are selected in capital cases throughout the nation.  In 1960, a jury sentenced Witherspoon to death.  The jury was selected in a process that permitted the prosecution an unlimited number of challenges for cause with respect to any potential juror who expressed qualms about the death penalty.  As a result, the jury that sentenced Witherspoon to death was composed only of people who had no qualms about capital punishment.  Jenner & Block represented Mr. Witherspoon in a post-conviction review that successfully challenged the constitutionality of this process. 

Please click here to read more about the case.  Click here to read the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in Witherspoon.  Click here for a recording of Mr. Jenner’s oral argument presented to the Court.

TAGS: A Jenner, Death Penalty, Moments in History, US Supreme Court

May 26, 2016 Judge Nominates Team for “Excellence in Pro Bono Service” Award

A Jenner & Block team won the admiration and respect of a federal judge, who nominated the team for an “Excellence in Pro Bono Service” award presented by the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Chicago chapter of the Federal Bar Association. District Judge Matthew Kennelly had appointed Partner Matthew R. Devine to represent a client who alleged that a police officer in the Village of East Dundee had violated his constitutional rights. Associates Hillary E. August and Jordan C. Blumenthal joined the team. The team defeated a motion to dismiss and then settled the case on terms favorable to the client. 

Please click here to learn more about the award presented in May.

TAGS: Awards, H August, J Blumenthal, M Devine

May 24, 2016 Sheila Simon Discusses Ideas for Ways that Law School Students Can Help Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Partner Keri Holleb Hotaling is co-chairing a task force aimed at recruiting university-based law clinics to join the fight against domestic violence and sexual assault.  The task force is an initiative of Chicago Says No More, an organization dedicated to educating and engaging individuals and organizations about the challenges of domestic violence and sexual assault.  Keri is a member of the organization’s Steering Committee and helped organize a recent breakfast at The John Marshall Law School to launch the task force’s efforts.   Featured speaker Sheila Simon, visiting assistant professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Law and former Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, spoke on the topic of “The Responsibility of Attorneys To Address Pervasive Societal Issues Why Law Clinics Should Care about Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.”

Partner Keri Holleb Hotaling is co-chairing a task force aimed at recruiting university-based law clinics to join the fight against domestic violence and sexual assault.  The task force is an initiative of Chicago Says No More, an organization dedicated to educating and engaging individuals and organizations about the challenges of domestic violence and sexual assault.  Keri is a member of the organization’s Steering Committee and helped organize a recent breakfast at The John Marshall Law School to launch the task force’s efforts.   Featured speaker Sheila Simon, visiting assistant professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Law and former Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, spoke on the topic of “The Responsibility of Attorneys To Address Pervasive Societal Issues Why Law Clinics Should Care about Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.”

Sheila Simon, visiting assistant professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Law and former Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, spoke recently on the topic of “The Responsibility of Attorneys To Address Pervasive Societal Issues: Why Law Clinics Should Care about Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.”   In her speech, she discussed a successful effort during her tenure as lieutenant governor: launching  a virtual legal clinic that gives domestic violence victims in remote areas of Illinois access to consultation by practicing lawyers via online technologies.  She also mentioned an idea that she would like to see come to fruition: an AmeriCorps-type program in which new lawyers would work pro bono on domestic violence and sexual assault cases and get law school loan relief in return. 

Ms. Simon spoke at The John Marshall Law School to launch an initiative of Chicago Says No More, an organization dedicated to educating and engaging individuals and organizations about the challenges of domestic violence and sexual assault.  The new initiative is a task force aimed at recruiting university-based law clinics to join the fight against domestic violenceand sexual assault.  The task force is co-chaired by Partner Keri Holleb Hotaling.

Please click here to read more about the task force.

TAGS: K Hotaling

May 19, 2016 Firm’s Win Helps DC Legal Services Corporations Recover Reasonable Fees

In Tenants of 710 Jefferson Street v. DC Rental Housing Commission, a firm team won an important victory for the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.  The win will affect the way DC courts determine lawyers’ fee awards when the prevailing party is a non-profit legal services corporation.

Please click here to read more.

May 12, 2016 Associate Handles DC Pro Bono Clinic Referral of Landlord/Tenant Case

The firm successfully represented a pro bono client who was sued by her landlord in an effort to evict her based on nonpayment of rent and violation of the terms of the lease. On her behalf, the firm pursued a counterclaim to recoup rent she had paid despite serious housing code violations, including flooding in the bathroom over a nine-month period, exposed heating elements and electrical wires, and rodent and cockroach infestations. 

Please click here to read more.

May 10, 2016 DCFS Drops Case Against Client Indicated for Neglect

In January 2016, Jenner & Block received a favorable outcome for a pro bono client in an Illinois expungement hearing proceeding.  The client, a widow, had been indicated with three counts of neglect for the alleged inadequate care of her autistic daughter.  The client maintained that the conditions cited by the state Department of Children and Family Services investigator were the direct result of temporary financial difficulties and that the state investigation was cursory and inadequate.  A few weeks before the hearing, DCFS dropped the case and voluntarily unfounded all the indications against the client.

Please click here to read more.

May 5, 2016 Rare Grant of Removal Helps Mother and Young Son

The firm represented the mother of a young boy, who, due to severe physical and mental abuse by the boy’s father, wanted to move to a different state.  The client had an excellent job opportunity there that provided her with a significantly increased salary, greater professional advancement opportunities and tuition reimbursement to pursue a Ph.D. while working.

Please click here to read more.

May 5, 2016 At Supreme Court, Firm Defends Critical Voting Rights Principles

US Supreme Court Pro BonoJenner & Block was significantly involved in the two state legislative redistricting cases that were before the US Supreme Court in the October 2015 term, examining the “one-person, one-vote” principle.

  • In Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC), the Court upheld  the legislative map created by the AIRC, a five-member independent commission established by Arizona voters in 2000. A group of Arizona voters had claimed that in the redistricting that followed the 2010 census, the AIRC violated the “one-person, one-vote” principle by deliberately putting too many voters in 16 Republican districts and too few in 11 Democratic districts. In his oral argument to the Court on behalf of the AIRC, Partner Paul M. Smith contended that what the challengers characterized as partisanship was, in fact, a good faith effort by the AIRC to comply with pre-Shelby County v. Holder requirements of the Voting Rights Act and that the deviations in numbers of voters were minor and made for a legitimate purpose.  The Court’s opinion explained that the Constitution does not demand “mathematical perfection” in distributing residents among legislative districts.

    Please click here to read more about the Court's decision.
  • In Evenwel v. Abbott, the Court agreed with the points made in an amicus brief the firm filed on behalf of four former directors of the US Census Bureau. In Evenwel, two Texas voters had contended that legislative districting should be based on voter-eligible population numbers, rather than on total population numbers. Texas and nearly all other states and local governments use total population figures published by the US Census Bureau every decade, for redistricting purposes. The firm’s brief contended that there is no data available to support the argument that states should be constitutionally required to draw district boundaries based on numbers of voting-age citizens or registered voters and that total population figures are the most accurate source of data and satisfy the Equal Protection Clause.  The Court ruled that states are not constitutionally required to divide districts by voting population.

    Please click here to read more about the firm's amicus brief.

TAGS: US Supreme Court

May 3, 2016 Victory for Federal Employees in Long-Running Dispute

The firm achieved a victory for a group of US Commerce Department employees who charged the Department with racial discrimination.  The case started in 1995, when the employees filed an administrative class complaint alleging discrimination as evidenced by low performance ratings, continued denial of promotions ad awards and disparate treatment in job assignment , environment, recognition and training.  In 2015, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit remanded the case back  to the lower court, holding that the six-year statute of limitations for civil claims filed against the government does not apply to Title VII suits brought by federal  employees.

Please click here to read more.

April 28, 2016 Team Successfully Defends Attempted Murder Suspect

On April 27, 2015, after a one-day bench trial in Chicago, a firm team won a “not guilty” verdict for a client who had been charged with attempted murder.  Cook County Judge Erica Reddick ruled that it was “well shown” that Kiara Chapman acted in self-defense when she stabbed the alleged victim one time in the chest with a pair of scissors during a fight.

Please click here to read more.

TAGS: B Lyerla

April 26, 2016 Firm Secures Victories for Pro Bono Clients before the US Supreme Court

Amir Ali Headshot In March 2016, fifth-year Associate Amir H. Ali argued before the Court on behalf of pro bono client Gregory Welch.  Mr. Welch was convicted and sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA)—a catchall provision that courts had relied upon for approximately 30 years to increase a defendant’s sentence for an illegal possession of a firearm from a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment to a minimum of 15 years’ imprisonment and up to life imprisonment.  Under ACCA, that increase in sentence was mandatory if the defendant had at least three prior convictions for a serious drug offense or a “violent felony,” which included any conduct that presented “a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.”  But Mr. Welch’s conviction and sentence became final before the Court’s 2015 ruling in Johnson v. United States, which held that this definition of “violent felony" is unconstitutionally vague.  Mr. Ali argued that the Court’s holding in Johnson must be applied retroactively to people like Mr. Welch.   In April, the Court agreed.  Mr. Ali’s argument can be heard here.  A profile of Mr. Ali in Above the Law can be read here.

The victory in Welch v. United States was just one win for pro bono clients before the Court in the past term:

  • Pro bono client Lawrence Owens was convicted of first-degree murder after a short bench trial in Cook County Criminal Court in 2000 and sentenced to 25 years in prison.  In the span of less than a year-and-a-half, Jenner & Block lawyers appeared on his behalf in the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the US Supreme Court, and the Circuit Court of Cook County, Criminal Division. As a result of  the firm’s work, Mr. Owens, who had almost 11 years of a 25-year prison sentence left to serve, was released from prison under an Alford plea agreement to time already served.

Please click here to read more about the Owens' case.

  • Pro bono client identified as V.L. sought vindication of her parental rights over three children she adopted while in a relationship with the children’s biological mother.  The Court held that the adoption of her children must be honored nationwide, restoring her legal bond with her children and ensuring that other same-sex couples would not be stripped of their parental rights.

Please click here to read more about the V.L. case.

TAGS: A Ali, US Supreme Court

April 21, 2016 Class Action Settlement Helps Thousands of Illinois Families

The firm successfully challenged the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ (DCFS) “Allegation #60,” a “catch-all” allegation that was often relied upon to investigate and “indicate” parents and caretakers for neglect, even when there was never an identified likelihood of harm to a child.  On January 9, 2015, the Cook County Circuit Court approved  and entered a final settlement between the DCFS  and plaintiffs represented by Jenner & Block in a class action lawsuit, Ashley M. v. DCFS.   

Please click here to read more about “Allegation #60”.

TAGS: Class Action

April 19, 2016 Important Victory for Sister of Famed Graffiti Artist

Art By Jason Wolf from 2016 Heart of the  MatterPro bono client Christina Wulf sought assistance in obtaining copyright protection for graffiti artwork created by her late brother Jason, who was killed at age 42. In April 2015, with the firm’s help, Ms. Wulf received copyright registrations for three of her brother’s pieces of artwork.

Please click here to read more.

September 2, 2015 Partner Wade Thomson Talks Pro Bono

Wade Thompson US Supreme CourtPartner Wade A. Thomson is a litigator who concentrates primarily on complex commercial disputes.  He practices in the firm's Chicago office.  He has worked on several pro bono asylum cases.

Q: What kind of pro bono work do you do at the firm?
Wade: 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.

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

Q: Why is it important to you to do pro bono?
Wade: 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.

Q: How has Jenner & Block supported you in your pro bono practice?
Wade: 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.

Q: How has pro bono helped you professionally?
Wade: 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.

Q: What would you tell others about your experience doing pro bono?
Many Jenner & Block lawyers 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, DC 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.

TAGS: Interviews, W Thomson

February 17, 2015 Associate Emily K. McWilliams Discusses What Jenner & Block's Pro Bono Work Means to Her

Emily K. McWilliams Environmental ShotEmily K. McWilliams is an associate in the Litigation Department in the firm's Chicago office.  Her pro bono practice is varied and includes representing, among others, a retired school teacher in a civil suit.

Q: What kind of pro bono work do you do at the firm?  (Describe individual cases or the programs that you are involved in that provide a pipeline of pro bono work to the firm).
I have had the opportunity to work on a variety of pro bono matters since joining the firm.  I have represented a plaintiff in a civil suit through CARPLS, a Cook County legal aid agency; secured dismissal of criminal charges against an indigent mother facing imprisonment for drug distribution; and expunged the criminal record of an immigrant whose minor infraction 30 years ago was preventing her from obtaining employment.  I also negotiated a settlement for a pro bono client who was a defendant and counter-claimant in a breach of contract case, and am currently assisting a client in getting her prostitution conviction expunged under the Illinois Victims of Sex Trafficking Act.

Q: Describe one or two of the most significant pro bono cases you have worked on while at the firm. 
Emily: As a first-year associate, I represented a retired school teacher of limited means in a civil suit for negligence against a large company.  After the company refused to settle, a partner and I tried the case to a 12-person jury.  After months of preparation, I conducted voir dire, presented two witnesses on direct and re-direct examination, and made opening and closing arguments.  After a one-day trial and three hours of deliberation, the jury awarded our client the full amount of damages requested.  Through this case, I was able to build a meaningful relationship with a client in need while also gaining significant litigation experience.

Q: Why is it important to you to do pro bono?
Emily: Everyone deserves to have high quality legal representation.  Through pro bono work, I can support and empower individuals who are in true need of a helping hand while empowering myself by gaining firsthand experience and building litigation skills.

Q: How has Jenner & Block supported you in your pro bono practice? 
Emily: Jenner & Block has enthusiastically supported my pro bono practice since the minute I started at the firm.  The partners who have supervised me on pro bono matters have taken the time to give me guidance and have also encouraged me to take ownership of cases and run with them.  Mentorship is the greatest resource of all that Jenner & Block has offered so far on my pro bono journey.

Q: How has pro bono helped you professionally?
Emily: Through my pro bono work, I have had invaluable opportunities to develop my skills as a litigator and strengthen relationships with experienced attorneys in the firm, across practice areas.  Most importantly, I have been able to build relationships with clients who are in need of legal assistance and give back to the community. 

Q: What would you tell others about your experience doing pro bono?
Emily: One of my clients told me that as she worked with Jenner & Block, she felt that she was finally learning how to effectively advocate for herself and that it was the first time she had been treated with respect in the course of dealing with the legal system.  The added responsibilities of taking on pro bono work are so worth the rewards – both interpersonal and professional.

TAGS: E McWilliams, Interviews

February 10, 2015 Partner Allison A. Torrence Shares Her Commitment to Pro Bono

Allison Torrence In Their WordsPartner Allison A. Torrence is a member of the firm’s Environmental and Workplace Health & Safety Law Practice as well as the Climate and Clean Technology Law Practice.  She practices in the firm's Chicago office. In one significant pro bono case, she represents several non-profit groups that are challenging an air permit issued by the State of South Dakota.

Q: What kind of pro bono work do you do at the firm?
Allison: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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 lawyer, 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.

Q: 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.

TAGS: A Torrence, Interviews

January 19, 2015 Partner Keri L. Holleb Hotaling Shares Her Pro Bono Experience

Keri Holleb Hotaling 2016 Partners MeetingPartner Keri Holleb Hotaling is a litigator in the firm's Chicago office. She has practiced in a variety of pro bono matters, including serving as chair of the firm's Domestic Violence Pro Bono Program.

Q: 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 lawyers 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 lawyer 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. 

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

Q: Why is it important to you to do pro bono?
Keri: 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. 

Q: How has Jenner & Block supported you in your pro bono practice? 
Keri: Jenner & Block has always been 100 percemt 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 lawyers have contributed approximately 1,400 pro bono lawyer hours.  Every month, I am impressed with the associates and partners who step up and volunteer their time to make the program a success.

Q: How has pro bono helped you professionally? 
Keri: 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.

Q: What would you tell others about your experience doing pro bono?
Keri: 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.

TAGS: Interviews, K Hotaling

January 14, 2015 Associate Ishan Bhabha Discusses Washington DC Pro Bono Work

Ishan K. Bhabha is an associate in the litigation department and a member of the Appellate and Supreme Court Practice Group in the firm's Washington, DC office. He has worked on several pro bono cases through the firm's arrangement with the Seventh Circuit.

Q: What kind of pro bono work do you do at the firm?  (Describe individual cases or the programs that you are involved in that provide a pipeline of pro bono work to the firm).
My primary pro bono work has been criminal appeals that I’ve received through the firm’s arrangement with the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  These cases involve appellate briefing followed by an oral argument. They provide associates with an incredible opportunity not only to hone legal research and writing skills — often on surprisingly unique and complicated issues of criminal law and procedure — but also to then get up in court and argue the case in front of Seventh Circuit judges.  Although the panels always graciously recognize that the lawyers have taken on these cases pro bono at the invitation of the court, that does not mean their questions are any easier by any stretch.  So, taking one of these cases forces you to bring your absolute “A game” and be on your toes throughout the briefing and argument.  

Q: Describe one or two of the most significant pro bono cases you have worked on while at the firm. 
Ishan: The most significant case I have worked on was a Seventh Circuit habeas appeal concerning a state murder conviction.  In short, our client was convicted of murder after a bench trial during which the judge, in pronouncing guilt, made clear that he was basing the conviction on his own suppositions as to what had occurred as opposed to what the evidence actually showed.  Our client had raised this argument multiple times over a 10-year period in various state and federal proceedings and received no relief.  In our appeal to the Seventh Circuit — essentially our client’s last shot — we argued that a conviction based on evidence outside the record violated basic principles of due process.  The Seventh Circuit agreed and ordered the state to retry our client or release him.  The state opted to retry the case (and Jenner & Block lawyers in another office started preparing for trial), but the US Supreme Court then granted the state’s petition for certiorari, and the case is currently pending before the Supreme Court.  Apart from forming a relationship with the client and feeling a sense of accomplishment at working hard for him, with some positive results, this case also exposed me to literally every level of the judicial system in both the state and federal spheres.  This was a fascinating experience from that perspective, and one I will never forget.

Q: Why is it important to you to do pro bono?
Ishan: First and foremost, I think it’s important to do pro bono because it’s easy to forget how unbelievably privileged we as lawyers are, not only personally, but also given that we have the tools to work for justice and fairness within legal structures that are often complex and intimidating for those not versed in the law.  Pro bono work is thus an opportunity to utilize our skills and experience for those less fortunate, who may well have valid claims but are unable to articulate them in a way that is cognizable in court.  I think a second clear benefit is that pro bono work allows you to have myriad professional opportunities that might be difficult to gain through paid work.  Not that paid work isn’t often also very satisfying intellectually, but understandably, clients may want lawyers with greater seniority to handle tasks such as arguing in court or negotiating directly with the other side.  These opportunities are plentiful in the pro bono realm and, combined with the first reason I mentioned, make pro bono a wonderful thing to spend one’s time on.

Q: How has Jenner & Block supported you in your pro bono practice? 
Ishan: Jenner & Block has been extremely supportive of all aspects of my pro bono practice.  Principally, given that my interest is in appellate argument, the firm’s program with the Seventh Circuit provides multiple and easily-accessible ways of getting interesting criminal appellate arguments.  As I saw from one of my cases that developed into a much larger matter, moreover, the firm does not consider the costs associated with seeing a pro bono case through to completion, but rather invests (financially and otherwise) in it as much as it would in any other case.

Q: How has pro bono helped you professionally?
Ishan: Again, I have had many professional experiences — principally three appellate arguments in two years at the firm — that I know I would not have received through my everyday paid work. 

Q: What would you tell others about your experience doing pro bono?
Ishan: It’s a hugely important part of my practice, something I hope to continue throughout my years as a lawyer and something everyone should do to the extent they can!

TAGS: I Bhabha, Interviews

November 11, 2014 Partner Lindsay Harrison Discusses Her Pro Bono Work

In their words Lindsay HarrisonPartner Lindsay C. Harrison is a litigator who practices in the Appellate and Supreme Court Practice in the firm's Washington, DC office.  She focuses her pro bono work on appellate matters.

Q: What kind of pro bono work do you do at the firm?
Lindsey: 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 US Supreme Court.  I have represented another asylum-seeker in the US 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 US 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.

Q: Describe one or two of the most significant pro bono cases you have worked on while at the firm.
Lindsey: 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 US Supreme Court, ensuring that he could remain in the United States with his US citizen wife and young son while we fought for his asylum claim.  I have worked with more than 25 Jenner lawyers 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.

Q: Why is it important to you to do pro bono?
Lindsey: 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 US Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals and to collaborate with some of the leading civil rights lawyers in the country on cutting edge litigation.

Q: How has Jenner & Block supported you in your pro bono practice?
Lindsey: 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 lawyers at various times to prepare me for appellate arguments and many other lawyers assisted with briefing and research as well.  Every single lawyer 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.

Q: How has pro bono helped you professionally?
Lindsey: 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.

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


TAGS: Interviews, L Harrison

September 30, 2014

Moments in History: Jenner & Block's 100-Year Story

Watch Some of Firm's New York Lawyers Discuss the Victory for Class of Tenants in Pro Bono Housing Matter


Capping a five-year legal battle, the Second Circuit on this day in 2013 affirmed a district court’s approval of a landmark settlement agreement between a class of 22,000 tenants and Pinnacle Group, one of New York City’s largest residential landlords that owned scores of rent-controlled apartments.  Read more ...

TAGS: Class Action, Moments in History

August 1, 2012

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 2000s

Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger

Jenner & Block took an active role in the national debate in two landmark cases that involved the University of Michigan’s affirmative action admission policies.  The Court relied on an amicus brief filed by a Jenner & Block team led by Partner David W. DeBruin on behalf of 65 major companies in upholding the admissions program at the University of Michigan Law School.

TAGS: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, D DeBruin

May 1, 2012

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1990s

Dowaliby Case

In 1988, 7-year-old Jaclyn Dowaliby was taken from her home and murdered. Her parents, David and Cynthia Dowaliby, were charged and tried in 1990 represented by private counsel.  The trial judge dismissed the case against Mrs. Dowaliby at the close of the State’s evidence, but allowed the jury to deliberate as to Mr. Dowaliby.  The jury convicted and Mr. Dowaliby was sentenced to 45 years of imprisonment. Jenner & Block agreed to take over the representation of the family on appeal.  In addition, the firm represented Mr. Dowaliby in a week-long evidentiary post-trial hearing and in a separate week-long custody trial in which the State attempted – and failed – to take custody of the Dowalibys’ other two children.  In 1992, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed Mr. Dowaliby’s conviction – finding that there was insufficient evidence to support a conviction – and he was released from prison. The Jenner & Block team included Partners Robert L. Byman, J. Kevin McCall and Terrence J. Truax.

TAGS: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, J McCall, R Byman, T Truax

April 4, 2012

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1980s

Leader of Court Reform in Illinois, Solovy Commission (1984-92)

Jerold S Solovy with Ruth Page Portrait

Partner Jerold S. Solovy was recognized as an enduring leader in the movement for court reform in Chicago and Illinois.  The “Solovy Commission” made approximately 200 reform proposals and, by 1988, it issued numerous reports on the judicial selection process and the financial interests of judges.  In 1992, Mr. Solovy served as chairman of the Illinois Supreme Court Special Commission on the Administration of Justice, now known as the “Solovy Commission II.”

TAGS: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, J Solovy

March 15, 2012

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1980s

Leader of “Greylord” Investigation in Chicago

Tom Sullivan at his Desk

As U.S. attorney from 1977-1981, Thomas P. Sullivan conceived and implemented the “Operation Greylord” investigation of the Cook County court system in Illinois.  The operation, which became public in 1984, uncovered widespread corruption and eventually resulted in numerous indictments and convictions of public officials.

TAGS: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, T Sullivan

March 1, 2012

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1980s

First Female Chair of ABA Section of Litigation

Joan Hall at the US Supreme Court

In 1982, Partner Joan M. Hall became the first female chair of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation.  That same year, she was the fourth woman elected as a Fellow to the American College of Trial Lawyers.  From 1985 to1991, she served on the ABA’s Federal Judiciary Committee.  After retiring from the practice of law, she went on to be the founder and president of the Board of Directors of the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School of Chicago.  The only all-girls charter public school in the city, the school opened in 2000.

TAGS: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, ABA, J Hall

January 1, 2012

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1970s

Illinois State Board of Elections v. Socialist Workers Party

In 1978, Associate Jeffrey D. Colman argued this case in the U.S. Supreme Court.  The case arose out of the need for a special mayoral election in Chicago following the death of Mayor Richard J. Daley. At issue was a disparity in signature requirements for independent candidates running for statewide versus local office. The Supreme Court unanimously (albeit in five opinions) adopted our argument that the signature requirement disparity violated equal protection guarantees.

TAGS: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, J Colman, US Supreme Court

December 9, 2011

Moments in History: Jenner & Block's 100-Year Story

Watch Partner Terri Mascherin Discuss the Release of Firm's Pro Bono Client After Serving 19 Years

A team working with attorneys from Northwestern University Law School’s Bluhm Legal Clinic Center on Wrongful Convictions and Stanford Law School Professor Lawrence Marshall represented Juan Rivera in appealing his third conviction of the 1992 rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl, Holly Staker.  Read more...

TAGS: Moments in History, T Mascherin, Wrongful Conviction

October 1, 2011

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1960s

Witherspoon v. Illinois Impacts 350 People on Death Row

US Supreme Court Pro BonoIn this landmark death penalty case, the Jenner & Block team led by Albert E. Jenner, Jr. helped stop a planned state execution of Mr. Witherspoon on constitutional grounds just a few weeks before the sentence was scheduled to be carried out.  Mr. Jenner argued that the jury selection process was unconstitutional and impermissible.  The US Supreme Court agreed.  After this ruling, an estimated 350 people on death row across the United States were re-sentenced.

TAGS: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, A Jenner, Death Penalty, US Supreme Court

June 1, 2011

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1950s

Start of Pro Bono at Jenner & Block

Thomas P. Sullivan, Prentice H. Marshall and Jerold S. Solovy launched the firm’s commitment to the defense of indigent criminal defendants in the 1950s.  All three lawyers joined, and Mr. Sullivan later chaired, the Chicago Bar Association Defense of Prisoners Committee.  They not only represented indigent criminal defendants, but they also began recruiting dozens of other Jenner & Block lawyers to the same service.  From this, the firm’s nationally recognized pro bono program evolved.

TAGS: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, J Solovy, T Sullivan

May 1, 2011

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1940s

Albert E. Jenner, youngest president of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA)

Albert E. Jenner, Jr. joined the firm as an associate in 1935. In 1947 at the age of 40, Mr. Jenner became the youngest president of the ISBA.  He was also president of the American College of Trial Lawyers.   In 1955, Mr. Jenner’s name was added to the firm name, which ultimately became Jenner & Block in 1969.

TAGS: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, A Jenner, ISBA

January 1, 2011

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1920s

Founder and First Chair of the ABA Antitrust Law Section

Edward R JohnstonEdward R. Johnston, known as the “Chief,” was one of the country’s most prominent antitrust lawyer in the ‘20s.  He formed the Antitrust Section of the American Bar Association and served as its first chair from 1952-1953.   Johnston was made a name partner in 1919, when the firm became Newman, Poppenhusen, Stern & Johnston.

TAGS: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, ABA

Recent Posts

Matters of Note




Connect With Us

Follow @jennerblockllp