NALP Directory of Legal Employers

Directory Year: 2021

Schiff Hardin LLP - Chicago, Illinois

Pro Bono/Public Interest

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Pro Bono Contact

Pro Bono Contact Name Paula M. Ketcham
Pro Bono Contact Title Attorney, Pro Bono Partner
Pro Bono Contact Phone 312258500
Pro Bono Contact Email
Is the pro bono information indicated here firm-wide or specific to one office? Firm-wide
% Firm Billable Hours last year 4.88
Average Hours per Attorney last year 74.49

Pro Bono Participation

Percent of associates participating last year 89
Percent of partners participating last year 54
Percent of other lawyers participating last year 37

Average hours

Average hours per associate last year 177
Average hours per partner last year 36
Average hours per other lawyer last year 18
What percentage of attorneys performed more than 20 hours? 45
What was the number of actual pro bono hours contributed by the organization in the prior calendar year? 16,908
Does the organization maintain a written pro bono policy that sets forth the organization's commitment to pro bono? Yes
How does the organization define what constitutes pro bono legal work?

We define pro bono legal work broadly, and our work proves the point. Our pro bono services include civil rights and law reform; political asylum and other types of immigration work; criminal defense, prisoners’ rights, and appeals; benefits appeals on behalf of veterans; landlord-tenant disputes; divorce; child custody; disability law; consumer contracts; homeless rights; low-income housing; community development; corporate counseling of nonprofit businesses; debtors' rights; wills and estate matters; and other civil legal needs for clients who cannot afford legal services.

Organization pro bono hours goals

Does the organization set annual goals regarding the minimum number of pro bono hours to be contributed by the organization? Yes
If yes, what is that annual goal? We encourage, but do not require, all attorneys to do pro bono work. Firmwide, we strive to average at least 50 pro bono hours per attorney in each of our offices and practice groups.

Attorney pro bono goals

Does the organization set individual attorney goals regarding the minimum number of pro bono hours to be contributed? Yes
If yes, what is that annual goal? We encourage, but do not require, all attorneys to do pro bono work. Firmwide, we strive to average at least 50 pro bono hours per attorney in each of our offices and practice groups.


Is an attorney's commitment to pro bono activity considered a favorable factor in advancement and compensation decisions? Yes
If yes, to what extent?

Pro bono support services

Are full-time support services (word processing, online research Lexis/Westlaw, out of pocket costs) available for pro bono representation? Yes
If so, are there any limitations?


Are associates provided written evaluations of their work on pro bono matters? Yes
Does the organization employ one or more of the following structures to manage its pro bono program and to provide training and guidance to participating attorneys? (Check all that apply): An attorney who coordinates pro bono projects as an ancillary duty to other work
How is pro bono work assigned/distributed?

Many of Schiff Hardin's most significant pro bono representations come from the personal commitment of individual lawyers. Others come through our relationships with public interest organizations, including the National Immigrant Justice Center and the ACLU. Pro bono matters every year engage significant time and talent of a substantial majority of Schiff Hardin's attorneys. In 2020, 72% of our lawyers performed pro bono work totaling over 17,000 hours.  Associates averaged 142 hours each of pro bono work in 2020.  

Absent a conflict of interest, Schiff Hardin will undertake any pro bono matter in which one of its lawyers wants to provide representation.

If an attorney is permitted to bring a pro bono case for possible consideration by the firm, who makes decisions about whether the firm will handle the matter? (check all that apply) N/A

Enabling pro bono or public interest work

Does the organization provide any of the following to enable its attorneys to participate in pro bono activities or work in a public interest setting? (Check all that apply): Fellowships
If so please describe

Schiff Hardin maintains partnerships with several public interest organizations including a 40 year partnership with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services and the Public Interest Law Initiative (“PILI”).

Summer associate pro bono opportunities

Are pro bono opportunities available for summer associates? Yes
Additional comments (Please use this space to provide any additional information about your organization's pro bono program including any special recognition or awards the organization has received for its pro bono work.)

Our summer associates participate in the firm's pro bono work to the same extent the firm's full-time lawyers do. Most summer associates worked on pro bono assignments in 2019, and the class collectively recorded almost 45% of their client billable time to pro bono work over the course of the 10-week program. Specifically, summer associates participated in drafting immigration asylum petitions on behalf of political refugees, worked on a case involving a prisoner’s right to medical care, and drafted a motion to compel discovery as part of a divorce proceeding. 

Several Schiff attorneys have received accolades for their pro bono commitments in recent years. The Chicago Bar Foundation presented its 2019 Maurice Weigle Exceptional Young Lawyer Award to a Schiff attorney for his commitment to pro bono and community service, as evidenced by work with clients seeking redress for violations of their constitutional rights and collaborations on cases through the   American Civil Liberties Union and Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. The State Bar of Michigan‘s Access to Justice Committee recognized three Schiff attorneys on its A Lawyer Helps Honor Roll for their work focusing on immigration and including representation of an Iraqi citizen in deportation proceedings. The National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) honored two Schiff associates with its 2020 Rising Star Award after they helped secure asylum and release for several pro bono clients who faced persecution for political activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Also, in 2020, two Schiff associates successfully led the efforts to obtain a new trial for a pro bono client who was wrongfully convicted of a shooting death and spent 14 years in prison.

What are some of the areas in which your organization has performed pro bono work in the past year?

We encourage our lawyers to pursue their individual pro bono passions. The result is an astonishing diversity of pro bono matters. Our attorneys handle pro bono matters in civil rights and law reform, political amnesty, veterans’ benefits, animal law, prisoners’ rights litigation, disability law, homeless rights, low-income housing, family law, community development, and corporate counseling of nonprofit businesses.

Fellowship sponsorship

Does your organization sponsor split public interest summer and/or post-graduate fellowships? Yes
Public Interest Fellowship Comments

Schiff Hardin is a proud sponsor of the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI), an organization that partners law students and recent graduates with public interest legal agencies.