CBA Sept.-Oct. 2020


A s 2019 turned into 2020, nothing warned us how devastating this year would be to our health, welfare, economy, and institutions. Nothing warned us that a world-altering crisis, rare in its intensity and scope, would bring a tsunami of suffering and uncertainty. Nothing warned us that our lives, livelihoods, interactions, and lifestyles would be fundamentally altered. Extraordinary times, to be sure. Daily life has become beyond challenging and confusing and stressful. Suddenly, we have had to cope with unprecedented circumstances that were unleashed at menacing speed. Our profession has been upended and transformed. Little is “normal.” Yet, for the most part, we have been able to navigate the personal and professional disruptions, and continue on with our lives, albeit quite differently than before the pandemic. But what about those on society’s fringes—those who are poor, homeless, oppressed, disfa- vored, or undocumented? Think about your situation. Now imagine theirs. For many, the pandemic has been overwhelming. For many, life has become immeasurably harder. For many, any day might be a day of desperation. We celebrate Pro Bono Week at a volatile time in our nation’s history, a time that has been especially punishing for the marginalized and disempowered. In Illinois, the urgency for law- yers to donate their time and resources to the underserved has always been there. Today, the urgency is unprecedented. Although the pandemic has slowed the ability of lawyers to resolve legal problems, it has done nothing to slow life’s adversities, hurdles, and unexpected turns. If anything, a host of legal troubles including domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, homelessness, and financial crisis have dramatically worsened. Access to the courts and to counsel is crucial to maintaining a just and equitable legal system. Tens of thousands of individuals and families in the Chicago area lack the means to retain counsel and desperately need pro bono assistance. Let me repeat that: they desperately need pro bono legal assistance. They desperately need you. Lawyers well know that access to the courts promotes equality, a subject that has recently attracted renewed salience. As Yale Law School’s Lincoln Caplan wrote in the Los Angeles Times a few months ago, “Not being able to afford a civil lawyer is not a standard measure of inequality, but it should be. The effect on the lives of low-income families and their communi- ties can be long-term and severe. The pandemic’s personal, economic, and social wreckage has already magnified this inequality.” An extraordinary commitment to pro bono is necessary and will continue to be so for some time – but not an extraordinary commitment in terms of time, nor in terms of complexity. Yet nonetheless an extraordinary commitment in scale and potential impact. Only an extraordinary commitment from the Chicago legal community can meet the demands of the moment. Just as there is nothing ordinary about Covid-19, so there can be nothing ordinary about the legal community’s pro bono response to it. This is a time for action. The legal profession must uphold its responsibility to make the legal system fully accessible. This responsibility belongs to all of us and only to us. No one else can provide legal services but lawyers. When the history of this period is written, what will be said of the legal profession in Chi- BY JUSTICE MICHAEL B. HYMAN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Pro Bono Week 2020: Extraordinary Times Call for Extraordinary Commitment EDITOR’S BRIEFCASE

EDITORIAL BOARD EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Justice Michael B. Hyman Illinois Appellate Court

ASSOCIATE EDITOR Anne Ellis Proactive Worldwide, Inc.

SUMMARY JUDGMENTS EDITOR Daniel A. Cotter Howard and Howard Attorneys PLLC

YLS JOURNAL EDITORS Kruti Patel Wintersteen Law Group Alexander Passo Latimer LeVay Fyock LLC Kaitlin King Hart David Carson LLP

Carolyn Amadon Samuel, Son & Co. Daniel J. Berkowitz Illinois Attorney General’s Of fi ce Amy Cook The Farmer Chef Alliance Nina Fain Janet Sugerman Schirn Family Trust Anthony F. Fata Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel LLP Clifford Gately Hinshaw & Culbertson Jasmine Villaflor Hernandez Cook County State’s Attorney’s Of fi ce Lynn Semptimphelter Kopon Kopon Airdo LLC John Levin Kathryn C. Liss DePaul University College of Law Bonnie McGrath Law Of fi ce of Bonnie McGrath Clare McMahon Law Of fi ce of Clare McMahon Pamela S. Menaker Clifford Law Of fi ces Peter V. Mierzwa Law Bulletin Media Kathleen Dillon Narko Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Adam J. Sheppard Sheppard Law Firm, PC Richard Lee Stavins

Robbins, Saloman & Patt, Ltd. Rosemary Simota Thompson Judge E. Kenneth Wright, Jr. Circuit Court of Cook County

THE CHICAGO BAR ASSOCIATION Sharon Nolan Director of Marketing

4 September/October 2020

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