Partnerships

Bluhm Legal Clinic Partnerships are collaborations with firms and corporations that provide pro bono services, in kind donations, and other support in order to further the mission of the Clinic and its various centers with specific, immediate projects. What follows is a highlight of some of our recent activities. For more information on pro bono opportunities with the Clinic please contact legalclinic@law.northwestern.edu.

Appellate Advocacy Center

Sidley Austin supports the Appellate Advocacy Center by co-teaching the Supreme Court Clinic, which offers students the opportunity to work on cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Sidley Austin attorneys Carter Phillips and Jeffrey Green donate their time to provide instruction to students, and associates from Sidley Austin’s pro bono Supreme Court practice supervise students as they advocate before the Court on behalf of indigent criminal defendants.  

Center for International Human Rights

IHR partnership image

Death Penalty Best Practices Manual: A new tool for lawyers around the globe

Baker & McKenzie assisted the Center for International Human Rights on a project analyzing international compliance with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption which included sending an associate to the November 2013 Conference of States Parties at the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in Panama City.

Fredrikson & Byron partnered with the Center for International Human Rights to produce a best practices manual for lawyers representing individuals facing the death penalty around the world. The manual has been translated into French, Chinese and Thai. Fredrikson & Byron attorneys contributed hundreds of pro bono hours to the researching, drafting, and editing of the manual. In addition, the firm provided financial support in order to print the manual.

Center on Wrongful Convictions

Attorneys from Grippo & Elden filed an amicus brief this year on behalf of the CWC case People v. Christopher Coleman. The amicus brief urged the court to retain the existing standard for establishing a post-conviction claim of actual innocence rather than making the standard more difficult. In its decision, the Illinois Supreme Court noted with approval the research contained in Grippo & Elden’s amicus brief. The CWC client won a new trial and the Court retained the existing standard for establishing a claim of actual innocence.

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP funded a fellowship with the CWC for a full year in 2012-2013. The fellow, Erin Topp, actively participated in litigation on behalf of numerous CWC clients, in addition to working with clinic law students and being the lead writer on a grant application resulting in the receipt of a $250,000 federal grant to staff the CWC's new Women’s Project.

Members of the legal department of AT&T are working with the CWC’s Women’s Project to analyze factors that led to the wrongful convictions of exonerated women around the country. They are reviewing transcripts from the women’s trials in an effort to identify what caused the wrongful convictions and to compile data to inform future cases.

Children and Family Justice Center

DLA Piper has partnered with CFJC to promote fair sentences for youth that hold them responsible for their actions in age-appropriate ways.  Attorneys Anne Helms and Richard Klawiter have represented and advised the CFJC’s project, the Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children. As representatives of the Coalition they filed amicus briefs in Illinois circuit courts, appellate courts, and the Illinois Supreme Court.  

DLA Piper attorney Anne Geraghty Helms has taken a lead role in supporting the CFJC’s efforts to find representation for the approximately 100 individuals serving juvenile life sentences without parole sentences in Illinois. 

DLA Piper has also partnered with the CFJC on the specific case of Jaime Hauad. Partner Richard Klawiter interviewed Jaime as part of a groundbreaking project documenting the lives of all people in Illinois serving a sentence of life without parole for crimes allegedly committed when they were children. The interview convinced Mr. Klawiter of Jaime’s innocence. Since that interview DLA Piper has not wavered in their efforts to seek justice for Jaime Hauad. Partner Rachel Cowen now heads a DLA Piper team that is re-investigating the case. Attorneys Terrence Smith, Dan Simon, Natalie Scruton, and Andrew Fraerman have also given generously of their time working on this case.

Baker & McKenzie attorneys Douglas Sanders, Rebecca Lock, Jaclyn Pampel and Sonja Schiller have represented a CFJC client in criminal court.  As a result of their efforts this client is restarting his education and is hoping to complete his probation sentence successfully.  

After eight years on the clinical faculty, Angela Vigil, head of Baker & McKenzie's pro bono program in North America, has continued her work with Northwestern Law by writing and organizing numerous amicus briefs on behalf of clients and centers, by coordinating pro bono projects, and by playing key roles in various Northwestern Law events and conferences. Most recently, Angela organized and moderated a panel on children’s human rights at the CFJC symposium, Pursuing Justice: A Constitutional and Human Rights Jurisprudence for the Children.