About Jonathan K. Baum

As the firm's director of pro bono services, Jonathan Baum coordinates the firm's entire pro bono portfolio. He identifies pro bono work that complements Katten's diverse areas of practice, going beyond just traditional litigation to include nonprofit corporate governance, affordable housing and community development transactions, and trust and estate planning to underserved populations.

A pro bono pioneer

Jonathan has served in his role since 1993, when he became one of only a handful of law firm partners in the nation to focus exclusively on the delivery of pro bono work. He matches pro bono opportunities with the best-suited attorneys and monitors each pro bono matter at the firm. He also personally represents pro bono litigation clients. He frequently represents refugees seeking asylum in the United States and individuals experiencing racial discrimination in housing or public accommodations. In collaboration with Illinois' largest legal aid provider, Jonathan launched one of the first legal aid clinics in an urban public school, an initiative that has served hundreds of low-income clients and was recognized with an ABA pro bono publico award. In another ongoing effort, Jonathan has represented the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in its defense of state and local gun regulations against constitutional challenges.

Prior to joining Katten, Jonathan served as a staff attorney and clinical fellow at the University of Chicago Law School's Edwin P. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. Prior to attending law school, Jonathan served as legislative aide to then-US Representative Abner J. Mikva and following law school, as a law clerk to the late Judge Bernard M. Decker of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He was awarded the "Unsung Hero Award" from Action for Children in 2004 for his victory in an Illinois Supreme Court case denying local governments the authority to interfere with the operation of day care homes licensed by the State of Illinois. In 2010, he received the Distinguished Public Service Award from the Public Interest Law Initiative. In 2022, he was honored by the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights with its Champion of Justice award.

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Practice Focus

  • Pro bono
  • Appellate and Supreme Court litigation

Presentations and Events