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.
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.
Most recently, we joined the newly created Law Firm Anti-Racism Alliance, committed to fighting and helping dismantle structural racism. Other pro bono highlights include:
- Helping medically vulnerable prisoners to obtain compassionate release during the COVID-19 crisis
- Celebrating our 40th year of partnership with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services to run a community-based 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 children in state custody, citizens to free speech, prisoners to basic medical care, Death Row inmates, and people with mental illness, as well as the due process rights of Guantanamo detainees
- Helping immigrants by 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
- Defending victims of sex crimes from defamation claims after they stand up and report their accusers
- Assisting many public interest organizations in fulfilling their missions – including those that represent juveniles in criminal proceedings, provide services to homeless people, and 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
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
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.
- DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING