Schiff Hardin Featured as Pro Bono Pioneer for 40-Year Partnership with CVLS

Chicago Lawyer

Schiff Hardin was featured in a Chicago Lawyer column by Meg Benson, executive director of Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS), for Schiff’s groundbreaking adoption and continuous staffing of a CVLS clinic in the Rogers Park neighborhood over the past 40 years.

Though today many law firms embrace pro bono service, Meg asserted that in 1979 Schiff was one of the few law firms to recognize the importance of donating direct legal services to low-income Chicagoans.

“Schiff set the standard by adopting the Howard Area Community Center,” Meg said. “Adopting the clinic meant that Schiff would be responsible for staffing the center location every clinic night. From then on, this clinic would always have a guaranteed band of attorneys showing up four evenings a month, every month.”

Partner Paul Dengel was one of the founders of the Schiff-adopted CVLS clinic in the Howard Area Community Center and among its first volunteers in 1979. He continued volunteering at the clinic through 2018.

Paul, who was a new Schiff associate at the time, said he was driven to help low-income people who, when facing the legal system alone, would otherwise be alone when their fundamental legal rights were being determined.

Meg noted that individuals who seek assistance from CVLS rarely have legal issues that are exciting, but their issues are real and immediate.

“For 40 years, Schiff has staffed a neighborhood legal clinic to tackle the routine legal needs of the people in one community,” she said. “Why? Because Schiff wants to give the community the services it needs. That’s great pro bono.”

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Read more about Paul’s story here.