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Over 275 attorneys and law students turned out for the Chicago Bar Association’s Pro Bono & Community Service Fair, held at Jenner & Block’s offices on October 20 to learn about and sign up for volunteer opportunities at over 30 participating public service and legal aid agencies.
The fair was a highlight of Chicago’s inaugural “Pro Bono Week,” which Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley recently proclaimed to help address the legal needs of the city’s residents and “improve the lives of the less fortunate.”
In welcoming the attendees and encouraging them to volunteer for pro bono work to help the indigent, Partner Barry Levenstam, Co-Chair of the Jenner & Block’s Pro Bono Committee, said that he has found pro bono work to be a “life altering experience,” both for the clients and the attorneys that help them.
“No matter what your interest is, there’s something here for you,” said Bob Glaves, Executive Director of the Chicago Bar Foundation, and one of the event’s organizers. Mr. Glaves noted that the Foundation will also soon launch a “Meet the Need” fundraising campaign to increase the organization’s grants to legal aid agencies in the Chicago area. He suggested that donating to the campaign is another great way to help the needy, especially for those attorneys whose restrictive schedules do not allow for the donation of time to pro bono cases.
To help kick start the campaign, the event featured a raffle of several tickets to a Chicago Cubs or White Sox game next season.
“The bottom line is important, but pro bono work will bring greater joy to your heart than any billable hour,” said Chicago Bar Association Present Michael B. Hyman, who was also on hand to welcome attendees and help direct them to the many worthy causes in need of volunteers.
The fair, now in its 12th year, was co-sponsored by the CBA’s Young Lawyers Section, Jenner & Block, Exelon Corporation, and the Public Interest Law Initiative.