(CHICAGO) Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP announced today that the firm was honored by the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) with the Pro Bono Initiative Award for its outstanding contributions to public interest law and pro bono in Illinois.
"At Katten, we believe we have the professional responsibility to advocate for people who have no one in their corner," said Katten Chairman Roger P. Furey. "We are committed to providing pro bono legal services because everybody wins — our neighbors, our communities, our attorneys, our firm."
PILI presented the award to the firm last week during the nonprofit organization's annual awards luncheon at the Palmer House Hilton, recognizing Katten for its significant pro bono work in the community. PILI's mission is to cultivate a lifelong commitment to public interest law and pro bono service within the Illinois legal community.
"Although our pro bono work is really its own reward, it's always nice to be recognized for it. And it is particularly exciting to receive an award for pro bono initiative," said Jonathan Baum, the firm's Director of Pro Bono Services. "We are constantly innovating to make the biggest contribution we can to the people who need our help the most. The Katten Legal Clinic at Jose de Diego Community Academy is the prime example of that."
Katten's Chicago attorneys last year logged more than 11,000 hours of pro bono services in Illinois, including work on cases stemming from the firm's legal clinic at the Chicago Public Schools' Jose de Diego Community Academy. The Katten clinic, operated in partnership with LAF (formerly the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago), celebrated its fifth anniversary this year as one of the first school-based legal clinics in the nation. It has served more than 500 low-income residents in the city's Humboldt Park and Wicker Park neighborhoods and handles civil legal issues ranging from family law to landlord and tenant disputes to immigration matters.
In addition, Katten—known as among the first law firms to create a full-time pro bono director position—has also teamed up with other local organizations such as the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, National Immigrant Justice Center, Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago and Lawyers for the Creative Arts to support the firm's pro bono efforts in providing legal aid.
The wide array of pro bono services provided by Katten attorneys has centered on issues of civil rights, housing discrimination, veterans' benefits, asylum hearings, adoption proceedings, orders of protection for domestic violence survivors, corporate and tax assistance for nonprofit organizations, and intellectual property law, among others.
Katten regularly sponsors PILI Graduate Fellows in a program that places newly hired associates from Chicago law firms at public interest law agencies in Illinois to work between law school graduation and their firm employment start date.
"At Katten, we believe that providing quality legal services to those who could not otherwise afford them is not only our ethical obligation but a privilege with which our power and status in our society provide us," Baum said. "Doing pro bono work serves the communities in which we live and work, while sharpening the skills and feeding the souls of our attorneys."
The firm has been recognized for its pro bono efforts by the American Bar Association with the Pro Bono Publico Award in 2016 and by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association with the Beacon of Justice Award in 2014.