Often pro bono coordinators hear that small, business focused, law firm attorneys are hesitant to take pro bono cases because legal aid work is either outside of their comfort zone or too time consuming. A recent partnership between Chicago legal services program LAF and Novack and Macey, LLP (Novack and Macey) defies that stereotype and is changing the lives of local Chicago students in the process.
LAF has always been dedicated to assisting those who cannot afford legal counsel navigate the legal system. The program also helps these individuals to understand and safeguard their rights as a step toward achieving economic self-sufficiency for themselves and their families. One of the ways LAF achieves this mission is by handling school suspension, expulsion and certain special education cases for the residents of suburban Cook County, Illinois.
Novack and Macey, a Chicago business litigation boutique, recently partnered with LAF to represent students whose families cannot afford a lawyer in school discipline and special education cases. It is clear that it is vitally important for these students to stay in school and receive appropriate services to meet their needs. Through their enrollment in school, not only do these students receive the education that is so necessary for them to thrive in society, they also receive much needed attention from caring adults that can benefit them in a myriad of ways.
Novack and Macey has agreed to accept 10 of these cases a year and currently represents two clients through the program. Firm attorneys have received specialized training for these assignments from LAF.
This is not Novack and Macey’s first pro bono partnership with LAF. The two organizations previously partnered to represent other Chicago area clients living in poverty, including people who have received decisions denying their Social Security disability claims.
Novack and Macey Partner Steve Siegel, the firm’s pro bono coordinator, explained that the new special education and school discipline program “is a great way for our attorneys to make a difference in the lives of children who are facing potentially life-altering decisions by their schools but whose parents and guardians cannot afford to hire a lawyer to represent their child.” Partner Courtney Tedrowe and associate Alex Berg also helped launch the firm’s newest pro bono program.
This partnership is a great illustration of how law firms and lawyers of all backgrounds can truly make a difference through pro bono service. As Diana C. White, LAF’s Executive Director put it, “Novack and Macey is a wonderful partner with LAF in improving access to education for students who are struggling with disabilities and poverty. The attorneys are enthusiastic, committed and bring high-quality litigation skills to bear on the clients’ cases. We are delighted that they approached us and look forward to continuing this extremely beneficial relationship.”
What successful partnership has your program or law firm participated in? Share your stories with us in the comments below.