Our Commitment to the Community
Segal McCambridge attorneys take seriously their roles as legal advocates and appreciate the need to contribute to their communities through pro bono representation and public service.
Between 2017 and 2021, firm attorneys donated nearly 5,000 hours of legal work to pro bono and public service matters.
The firm credits attorneys with up to 25 billable hours for pro bono work and public service activities.
Don Segal – One of the Many Who Inspire Us
A critical inspiration point for the firm’s pro bono practice is founding shareholder Donald Segal. Don has long championed the underdog and those who lack a voice or a seat at society’s table.
Always an egalitarian and willing to put his neck on the line, Don has long advocated for the rights of women and people of color. Over the course of his career, this advocacy framed his view of the law as a tool to achieve the greater good. As a result of his impact in the community, in 2020 the firm established the Don Segal Pro Bono Award to support organizations that work to protect marginalized people. In 2021, the $5,000 award was split between Chicago Volunteer Legal Services and the Bluhm Legal Clinic Center on Wrongful Convictions.
Our Pro Bono and Community Service Work
Against this backdrop, a core tenet of our pro bono work is championing basic human rights in the United States and in the world at large. This includes reducing a prison sentence from life to 25 years for a young adult who committed a crime at age 16; fighting for the rights of a lawyer in Mexico who took on an entrenched system in an environmental protection battle; securing the rights of a working mother to breastfeed and care for her newborn child; and counseling an aspiring musician on how to secure rights to protect his music.
These pro bono efforts take our attorneys from prison settings to tropical jungles. The work is at times demanding, grueling and even dangerous. In one country, our pro bono work required armed security to ensure the safety of our attorneys.
Throughout it all, our team of lawyers and staff devote hundreds of uncompensated hours to achieve justice for people who historically have lacked a voice. It is our honor and privilege to do so.
Among our recent pro bono initiatives and achievements:
- The firm is participating in the Community Justice Project in South Florida to provide pro bono services, including appellate work. As a part of this project, the firm partners with the Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law in Fort Lauderdale to encourage law students to shadow our lawyers at depositions and court appearances.
- Since 2015 the firm has been committed to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and has raised more than $100,000 for this important cause. The firm participates in three other major fundraisers for the Alzheimer’s Association each year: Reason to Hope, Paint the Night Purple and Power of Purple.
- The firm has represented an indigent defendant through Northwestern University’s Juvenile Life Without Parole sentencing program. Our work resulted in reducing the client’s sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole to 25 years.
- The firm works with the International Senior Lawyers Project in New York in association with the American Bar Association in Washington, D.C., on a complex human rights case involving an attorney seeking proper compensation from the government of Mexico in an environmental matter.
- During the pandemic, the firm assisted a Camden, New Jersey, education nonprofit with recovering funds improperly placed in an unauthorized bank account.
- In April 2019, the United States District Court and the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association recognized Segal McCambridge shareholder Joseph Kish for his pro bono work.
Pro Bono & Public Service Committee Mission Statement and Membership
Our Pro Bono & Public Service Committee supports the firm’s mission to encourage, facilitate and recognize attorneys as they volunteer to help their communities through pro bono legal work.
The committee provides inspiration, training and practice support for lawyers who engage in pro bono matters that impact both individuals and marginalized communities as a whole. This includes fostering longstanding relationships with community organizations and legal providers who serve marginalized communities.
We recognize that we can also positively impact our communities by serving on the boards of nonprofit organization.
For example, our shareholders serve on the board of directors for the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter and are members of the Steering Committee for a newly formed women’s initiative, Illinois Women Conquer ALZ, focusing on fundraising, advocacy and education. In addition, one of our shareholders co-founded and continues to serve on the advisory council of HOPE Outreach Center, Inc., a Broward County, Florida, nonprofit that provides food pantry support, elderly visitation care/assistance and after-school education for marginalized children.
Our annual 2020-2021 Pro Bono Report is available here.
Pro Bono & Public Service Committee Members
- Joseph Kish, Chair, Chicago
- Stephanie Burnstein, Detroit
- Ilana Hanau, New York
- Heather Snider-Levinsky, Chicago
- Robert Wall, Austin
- Donald Segal, Chicago