Your Time at Work
From the September 2010 CBF Newsletter
Unique Pro Bono Contributions Provide Needed Support to Legal Aid Attorneys
Jennifer Gallinson, Professional Development Manager at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, sets a great example of the many ways lawyers and legal professionals use their time to improve access to justice. As a result of her leadership efforts, the CBF’s Legal Aid Academy provides needed training and professional development opportunities to Chicago’s legal aid organizations. Through the Academy, Jennifer, her professional development colleagues, and other consultants and experts, are raising the bar on the quality and scope of available training for legal aid attorneys.
“This kind of high-quality training is hard to get, even if money is no object.”
- Diana White, LAF Executive Director
The Academy provides training opportunities through two complementary systems: (1) coordinated training, through which legal aid attorneys join already existing training programs at law firms and other organizations; and (2) customized training, through which firms, legal consultants and others create and present training customized for the legal aid community. As co-chair, Jennifer and the other Academy Steering Committee members use their expertise to guide planning for the Academy generally and also to develop particular training sessions for legal aid attorneys. In addition, they connect the legal aid community to many consultants who have been more than willing to generously donate their time and talent.
The Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (LAF), is just one organization that has benefited from the Academy. LAF attorneys and staff have attended Academy trainings on topics including negotiation, working with mentally ill clients, public speaking and the appellate process. One especially popular training has been “Successful Supervision and Management,” led by Malou Roth, a human resources consultant for Kirkland & Ellis and other firms. Recognizing the great need for training on supervision skills, Malou generously offered to present multiple sessions so that more legal aid supervisors could attend. Nearly every supervisor at LAF attended one of Malou’s sessions, including non-lawyers like LAF’s Finance Director, Agency Administrator and Development Director. “Everybody liked the training and got practical tips they could start using immediately. This kind of high-quality training is hard to get, even if money is no object,” said Diana White, LAF’s Executive Director about the training.
Unique in its effort to provide training through pro bono contributions, the Academy is also unique in its effort to harness the generosity of professionals like Jennifer and Malou, who want to use their particular skills to increase access to justice. Jennifer reflects on her experience with the Academy, “As a practicing attorney, handling pro bono matters became an integral part of my practice and was essential to my professional development. When I moved into an administrative role, maintaining my commitment to doing pro bono work remained a priority, but I had less of an outlet since I was no longer regularly handling cases. I am fortunate that through the Academy I am able to continue to serve the public good by enhancing the training and development opportunities for attorneys who have dedicated their careers to represent those in need throughout Illinois. Using my skills to support the legal aid community is extremely satisfying, and I am happy that I can continue to perform a new kind of pro bono work in my role as a law firm professional development manager.”
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