CHICAGO - Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP is pleased to announce that Heather Kuhn O’Toole, an associate in the Firm’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice, has been named Pro Bono Attorney of the Month for May, by Illinois Pro Bono, an organization dedicated to increasing access to legal services for lower-income and vulnerable Illinois residents. Ms. O’Toole is featured this month on the organization’s Web site, http://www.illinoisprobono.org/.
Ms. O’Toole was recognized for her continuing dedication to pro bono service, as well as for her efforts in winning a decisive victory in a federal case in which she represented a mother in an action filed by her son's father under the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of Child Abduction. The father alleged in his Hague Petition that the mother wrongfully removed their son from England in 2002 to avoid a custody hearing. In fact, the mother and her son had been living in the United States since 1999, when she moved to Chicago because the father filed an action for custody in the Circuit Court of Cook County. After failing to obtain custody in Cook County, the father returned to England in 2002 and initiated custody proceedings there, falsely informing the English court that the mother and her son had also returned to England.
Following depositions and an evidentiary hearing, the Court resolved all credibility issues in favor of Ms. O’Toole’s client, repeatedly noting that the father's testimony was not credible. The Court dismissed the father's Hague Petition and entered judgment in favor of Ms. O’Toole’s client, specifically complimenting Ms. O’Toole for her "exemplary job" on the case.
"We are very proud that Illinois Pro Bono has recognized Heather’s outstanding work on this case, as well as her dedication to giving the state’s under-represented population a voice in our legal system," said Jonathan K. Baum, Katten’s Director of Pro Bono Services. "As a Firm, we strongly encourage all of our attorneys to devote some of their time to pro bono work and have always been pleased with their willingness to accept this challenge. It is because of exceptional people like Heather, that Katten’s pro bono effort continues to thrive."
Katten has a long-term commitment to helping the poor, the powerless and the disenfranchised obtain first-rate representation without charge. Attorneys and other legal professionals give their time, resources and talent to serve individuals and organizations in need, to engage in important national litigation, and to partner with local legal service providers to ensure access to the justice system.
Mr. Baum serves as the Firm’s Director of Pro Bono Services, making Katten one of a small group of firms that have a partner leading the pro bono program on a full-time basis. Mr. Baum works with pro bono committees that are established in each of the Firm's offices.
Katten’s pro bono program is particularly noteworthy for the breadth of services it offers. This includes litigation, both on behalf of individuals and groups, in matters of housing and public accommodations discrimination, civil liberties, immigration, criminal defense and prisoners’ rights, and consumer matters. Katten also handles transactional pro bono work in such areas as corporate and tax assistance to not-for-profit organizations, intellectual property law, employee benefits, and international trade law.