On July 7, the Chicago Bar Foundation announced that Partner Andrew W. Vail has been selected for its Edward J. Lewis II Pro Bono Award. The award recognizes lawyers who “display a deep commitment to the fundamental principles of equal protection and equal justice in the community through outstanding pro bono service.” As a former partner, Mr. Lewis was known for his efforts in making the Jenner & Block name synonymous with pro bono advocacy, all while maintaining a busy practice and delivering excellence to all of his clients. He provided several hours of pro bono legal services to such noble causes as youth education programs; long term care of the elderly; adults and children seeking political asylum; housing discrimination; and Section 1983 cases.
Since coming to Jenner & Block from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2003, Mr. Vail has reinforced the firm’s core value of pro bono by putting the needs of clients first; advocating for those who otherwise would not have access to justice. To date, he has opened nearly 90 pro bono matters, totaling more than 6,500 hours during his career and averaging nearly 400 pro bono hours a year.
During his leadership as co-chair of the firm’s pro bono program for several years, Jenner & Block was recognized each year by The American Lawyer as the Number 1 pro bono program in the United States. Mr. Vail also spearheaded the firm’s publicly announced commitment to provide at least $250 million in pro bono services to those in need of legal services over the five-year period from January 1, 2021 through 2025.
In November 2020 , Mr. Vail agreed to serve as the pro bono general counsel for the United Way of Metro Chicago (UWMC), providing important strategic advice and pro bono legal counsel to help the United Way and its partners throughout Chicagoland fulfill the organization’s mission of improving communities and the common good. He is currently organizing a trailblazing collaboration between UWMC, National Immigrant Justice Center, Jenner & Block, in-house lawyers, and the Mexican consulate to provide first time DACA application assistance under the Biden administration.
On July 16, Mr. Vail received the award at the Chicago Bar Foundation’s Annual Pro Bono & Public Service Award Luncheon. Madeline Lewis, youngest daughter of former partner Edward J. Lewis II, presented Andrew with the award. “Before my father passed away to cancer, he taught me to treat everyone equally with no exceptions and to be a person of service and advocacy.”
In his acceptance speech, Mr. Vail expressed his gratitude for being able to work with, and learn from, the late Tom Sullivan. He also referenced the legacy and core value of pro bono at the firm and stressed the importance of building relationships with others when working on pro bono matters: “Today and each day, let us cherish the legacies of Tom, Edward, and so many who have gone before us, including those we’ve lost since we were last in this room together. Let’s remind ourselves that our time together is special and limited, and we should use it to build relationships with one another to better ourselves and the world outside these walls.”
To watch Mr. Vail’s full acceptance speech, please click here.