Pro Bono Initiative Spotlight: Butler Rubin Hosts Dreamers Clinic
CHICAGO, October 4, 2012 – Butler Rubin Saltarelli & Boyd’s pro bono work is driven by a strong conviction that “no firm is too small to do pro bono.” A boutique litigation firm located in Chicago and working around the country, Butler Rubin truly sets the bar for other firms of its size, and for many much larger firms as well. “A lot of the leadership and a lot of the attention on pro bono has been focused on large law firms – and they’re to be applauded and credited for the work they do,” says Jim Morsch, the firm’s Pro Bono Director. “But there’s a lot of good pro bono going on in small to medium firms, and there’s a lot more that can be done too.”
Butler Rubin’s own pro bono program is itself a solid example of the good work being done in small to mid-sized firm pro bono. Formally launched ten years ago in 2002, the program incorporates the interests and concerns of its attorneys and has grown over the years to include a staff pro bono program and a firm charitable giving program and as well. Butler Rubin has partnered with a range of legal aid agencies on a variety of issues, including but not limited to:
- A groundbreaking case with Equip for Equality that resulted in the CTA producing oral instructions for the disabled
- A precedent-setting case dealing with the right of child of an American father who was born abroad to U.S. citizenship
- Arts-related litigation and counseling with Lawyers for the Creative Arts
- Representing Guantanamo detainees with the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York
- Representing especially disenfranchised groups such as death row inmates, families who have lost custody of their children, incarcerated youth, and asylum seekers
Butler Rubin also serves as outside pro bono counsel for several nonprofits, legal and non-legal, and partners at Butler Rubin serve on the boards of directors of even more nonprofits.
Recently, Butler Rubin hosted a Dreamers Clinic in partnership with the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), through which they had previously worked on asylum and other pro bono cases. NIJC is teaming up with law firms across the city to hold free legal clinics for DREAMers, undocumented youth who want to apply for the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Butler Rubin’s clinic, held on September 14 at their building, saw 19 attorneys from Butler Rubin and from outside corporations and organizations. Participating attorneys were trained and then worked with undocumented youth to review their documents and put together their application materials. “Their stories were incredible,” says Morsch of the youth who attended the clinic. “Parents came with their teenage child, parents who were also undocumented and not eligible for anything at all, but they were coming out of the dark to support their child and hope for a better future for them.” NIJC and Butler Rubin hope that these trained attorneys will continue to take these cases, given the immensity of the need.
Not one to rest on the firm’s past pro bono work, Morsch has plans to help the firm grow on its successes and make the best use of its strengths. Butler Rubin prides itself on using its noted litigation expertise to meet the unmet legal needs of the Chicago community, and Morsch would like to see even more high-impact, large pieces of litigation. He is particularly proud of how the staff pro bono program has evolved over the years and hopes to continue incorporating their pro bono efforts in the firm’s larger projects.
Morsch credits a strong pro bono culture at Butler Rubin with the success of their program. “The named partners at this firm embraced pro bono without hesitation very early on and were extremely supportive of the development of the program and the amount of time we spent on it,” he said. Butler Rubin currently donates at least two percent of its billable hours to pro bono, and does not cap the number of pro bono hours an individual attorney can bill. Morsch says they do this because they want their attorneys to give their pro bono clients the same quality of work and attention they give their paying clients, and he points to several award-winning pro bono attorneys at Butler Rubin as proof of their hard work. The firm as a whole has been named to PILI’s Pro Bono Recognition Roster for the last three years as well. Through the firm’s commitment to high-quality legal services to the underserved, and their longstanding dedication to the legal aid community, Butler Rubin is proof that no law firm or corporation is too large or too small to make a huge impact.
Formed in 1980, Chicago-based Butler Rubin has established itself as a well-known litigation boutique assisting clients nationally and internationally in the core practice areas of reinsurance and complex business disputes, including antitrust, competition law and opt-out antitrust litigation; class actions; defense of corporate directors and officers; mortgage insurance; credit insurance; insolvency; creditors’ rights; and products liability and mass tort matters.
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