CBA Record September-October 2021

organizations. Pro bono work and public service are shared values for lawyers and perhaps we appreciate it simply as the right thing to do. As it turns out, doing the right thing also may improve our per- sonal health and happiness too. Recent studies by the Cleveland Clinic confirm that giving back is central to happiness, good health, and strengthening social bonds. Researchers found that giving back lowers blood pressure; increases self-esteem; results in less depression; lowers stress levels; contributes to longer, healthier lives; and promotes greater overall happiness and satisfaction. Law schools too have long recog- nized the importance of promoting law student participation in pro bono work and making such opportunities a criti- cal part of the learning experience. Pro bono work is a win-win for law students as well as young lawyers, allowing them to develop skills, gain confidence, and advocate for others while working to

deliver assistance, empowerment, and justice to a client, community, or cause. Such work enhances one’s understanding of the legal system, its strengths, and its challenges, while also offering the experience of representing clients facing a variety of legal problems. Some have suggested that implement- ing a mandatory pro bono system for lawyers would be a positive step in clos- ing the ever-growing justice gap—the divide between the number of people who need but cannot afford legal assis- tance and the resources available to meet those needs. The legal community has shown no signs of willingness to accept such a requirement, though, and such an obligation is ill-advised. Requiring lawyers to complete pro bono service may provide some short-term relief but it is by no means a comprehensive solution. Overcoming access to justice issues demands the adoption of a mul- tifaceted, creative approach by the legal

community and the judiciary to fully embrace technology, innovation, and regulatory change. Implementation of recommendations made by the CBA/ CBF Task Force on the Sustainable Practice of Law & Innovation would be a positive step forward to promote greater access to justice in Illinois. (See a copy of the report on the CBF’s Blog at cba-cbf-task-force-releases-final-report- and-recommendations). As we celebrate National Pro Bono Week 2021, it is a good time to remem- ber that pro bono work provides lawyers with a very special opportunity to give back and to make a difference in the com- munities where we live and work. Please join me in supporting Chicago’s rich history of pro bono and public service to ensure the access to justice that people deserve, not just what they can afford.

INTRODUCING Robert C. O’Brien, U.S. Ambassador, Retired

MEDIATION FOR: + Business & commercial contracts + Class actions + Complex litigation + Employment + Securities


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