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Partner 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?
Keri: 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.