LAF’s history, like any history, is one of inspiring highs and rocky lows, and, like any history, it’s filled with people who have pushed the story forward with passionate belief and action. LAF remains a force to be reckoned with in the legal world because of these people, notably many of whom have come from Jenner & Block LLP. Selected as the 2015 #1 Law Firm for Pro Bono Service by The American Lawyer, named a Pro Bono All-Star in 2015 by Law360, and placed on The National Law Journal’s 2016 Pro Bono Hot List, Jenner & Block has earned national recognition because of years of staunch commitment to pro bono service. It makes sense that LAF and Jenner & Block would find themselves partners as they provide legal aid to Chicago’s most marginalized communities.
Jenner & Block has had a consistent presence at LAF for years: Diana White, LAF’s current executive director, was an associate and partner at the firm from 1986 to 1997; partner Barbara Steiner is currently on LAF’s Governing Board; and associates William Strom and Caroline Lindsey are dedicated members of LAF’s Young Professionals Board. Jenner & Block alumni that have served on LAF’s board in the past include Bill Von Hoene, Jr., Dan Hurtado, Ron Marmer, and Cunyon Gordon. In 2005, LAF honored senior partner Tom Sullivan with LAF’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his “career-long pro bono accomplishments and efforts to improve the administration of justice.”
These generous individuals embody the qualities that drive LAF and its partners: social responsibility, a core sense of right, and the motivation to combat what is wrong. In the words of Jerold S. Solovy, the firm’s late chairman emeritus, a Jenner & Block attorney for 55 years, and the man behind the prestigious Solovy Equal Justice Award that annually honors an exemplary LAF attorney, “The client comes first.” Both LAF and Jenner & Block stand by this motto, and both show that the assistance the client receives should not be defined by economic constraints. Currently, Jenner & Block attorneys Keri Holleb Hotaling, Justin Steffen, and Kathleen Gibbons are working with LAF to help a mother receive sole custody of her son, and attorneys Amanda Amert and Jennifer Senior play key roles in a case in which LAF seeks unpaid wages for victims of human trafficking.
Yes, LAF’s history has been a journey with its ups and downs, but one of the beautiful things about history is that it is always evolving into a future, and this future looks promising, in no small part thanks to Jenner & Block.