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Hundreds of attorneys and law students recently gathered at Jenner & Block for the Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers Section’s annual Pro Bono & Community Service Fair. Now in its 13th year, the event was an opportunity for members of Chicago’s legal community to meet with representatives from 45 pro bono clinics, public service organizations and mentoring programs.
CBA President Kevin Durkin welcomed the attendees to the event and encouraged them to seek out opportunities at the fair to help those in need. Illinois lawyers are not required by law to do pro bono work, he said, but our justice system is based on the principle that “no one should be denied equal access to the courts.”
Jenner & Block Partner Anton R. Valukas delivered the evening’s keynote address. Mr. Valukas, a former U.S. Attorney, said that it is “individual efforts that make the most significant difference” in the community. In encouraging the attendees to volunteer, he noted that without the legal clinics and organizations at the fair and their volunteer lawyers, the needy would often have “no place to turn.”
The Pro Bono & Community Service Fair was the centerpiece of Chicago’s Pro Bono Week, which Mayor Richard M. Daley and Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich officially declared as a time “to honor lawyers’ pro bono efforts and to educate the public and the legal community about how these lawyers are improving the lives of the less fortunate.”
Co-sponsors of the event were The Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Section, The Chicago Bar Foundation, Jenner & Block, Exelon Corporation and the Public Interest Law Initiative.