Giving back is both a strong commitment and chosen responsibility of our firm. Throughout our more than 150-year history, we have shared our experience, skills, and resources to help those in need and drive change in our communities. We serve the community in several different ways: through pro bono legal service, community work, and charitable giving.

Pro Bono

In the early years, our lawyers drafted legislation and performed legal work for local park boards, presided over the Illinois Constitutional Convention that wrote the 1870 Constitution, and signed the Articles of Incorporation for the Chicago Bar Association.

Today, we are proud to help immigrants who face persecution of all kinds stay in the U.S. We represent youth faced with expulsion from school or with criminal prosecution. We help animals live better lives, and we support organizations that improve the lives of people worldwide as well as in our local communities. Recent pro bono highlights include:

  • Operating a storefront legal aid clinic in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood to address the legal problems of people of limited means – including landlord/tenant disputes, government benefits, and family law
  • Vindicating civil rights – including the rights of prisoners to basic medical care, the due process rights of Guantanamo detainees, the rights of Death Row inmates, and the rights of people with mental illness
  • Helping immigrants – protecting the rights of immigrant children facing deportation to be able to remain in the country and obtaining political asylum for those who face death or persecution in their home countries
  • Assisting many public interest organizations in fulfilling their missions – including those that represent juveniles in criminal proceedings, those that provide services to homeless people, and those that represent victims of torture
  • Representing real estate organizations that build affordable, supportive housing for low-income people and people with disabilities
  • Successfully representing a gay couple who was denied the right to hold their civil union ceremony at a bed-and-breakfast
  • Defending students in expulsion hearings so that they can continue their education

Community Work

Our firmwide initiative called ACT – All Come Together – harnesses the power and influence of working together to make a difference in our communities. It was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King.

We take these words to heart. Each year, our lawyers and staff rally around issues and organizations to support. Recent community service highlights include the following:

  • Supporting Breakthrough’s Manna program by cooking, serving, and sharing a dinner meal with the women staying at Breakthrough’s shelter
  • Assisting school-aged kids with their creative writing in partnership with 826michigan
  • Volunteering at Bernie’s Books to make a meaningful impact on Chicagoland’s literacy crisis
  • Rebuilding school gardens in Washington, D.C. in partnership with KidPower’s VeggieTime
  • Preparing a warm and delicious meal for homeless people at the Raphael House of San Francisco
  • Raising substantial funds for Passionately Pink for the Cure, a Susan G. Komen Foundation fundraiser for breast cancer research
  • Introducing students from Chicago’s Cristo Rey Jesuit High School to the law and legal careers through the Street Law Program
  • Running a writing workshop for diverse first-year law students through the Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program

Charitable Giving

We give to charity in several ways. Our lawyers and staff devote their own time and money to a range of causes, including the Chicago Bar Foundation which is the charitable wing of the Chicago Bar Association and the largest funding source for civil legal services for economically disadvantaged people in Illinois.

The Schiff Hardin Foundation, a public charity under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3), donates to various causes with our lawyers and staff taking the lead. In 2017, we created a firmwide campaign to raise money for hurricane disaster relief and donated more than $67,000 to aid organizations around the country.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.


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