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 firstname.lastname@example.org. With questions about this webpage please contact email@example.com.
Appellate Advocacy Center
Sidley Austin attorneys Carter Phillips (JD ’77) and Jeffrey Green, along with other partners from their office, donate their time to provide instruction to Appellate Advocacy Center students. Additionally, partners and associates from Sidley Austin’s pro bono Supreme Court practice supervise students as they prepare briefs before the Court, mostly on behalf of indigent criminal defendants.
Center for International Human Rights
As part of the Northwestern Access to Health Project, CIHR is working in Mali on issues at the intersection of health, human rights, and development. One of their initiatives is a partnership with a group of local musicians, Troupe de Haire, to create an album focusing on health, human rights, and development. As a firm specializing in entertainment law and music industry contracts, Loeb & Loeb, brought their expertise to this project by writing an agreement to reflect the commissioned work with Troupe de Haire. The project was supervised by Loeb & Loeb partner Debra White.
Center on Wrongful Convictions
Schiff Hardin partnered with the Center on Wrongful Convictions to represent Christopher Coleman in proceedings in the Circuit Court of Peoria County, Illinois. Coleman served 19 years on a wrongful conviction before his conviction was overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court, and he was seeking a judicial certificate of innocence. Schiff attorneys Ronald Safer and Tal Chaiken led Coleman’s legal team at a contested trial that resulted in the grant of a certificate of innocence on March 5, 2015. This result also entitles Coleman to statutory compensation from the State of Illinois.
Northwestern Law client Jason Strong, his family, and members of his legal team
In May of 2015, Jason Strong was cleared of a murder conviction and released from prison after 15 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. His legal case was complicated and was handled by a dedicated team from Northwestern Law. Three Northwestern Law alums, who had worked on the case as students, continued to be a part of the team on a pro bono basis after graduation. This pro bono support was provided by Brian Nisbet (JD ’09) of Winston & Strawn and David Luger (JD ’09) and Charlie DeVore (JD ’11) both of whom started at Winston & Strawn and later moved to Katten Muchin & Rosenman LLP where they continued to work on the case. Their support consisted of hours of drafting documents, preparing depositions of witnesses, and conducting investigative work, among other things.
Jose Velasco was a 16 year old Chicago boy from Pilsen when he was arrested and charged with the murder of his best friend, Juan Luna. After Velasco was convicted, Juan Luna’s mother and sister approached the Center on Wrongful Convictions to take Jose’s case. They firmly believed that Jose had nothing to do with the crime. Stuart Chanen (JD ’85) of the Valorem Group has been co-counsel on this case for over eight years. A petition for a new trial has been filed which will be heard late summer 2015.
Since 2010, Kirkland & Ellis attorneys Justin Barker and Tim Knapp have partnered with the CWC on the case of Charles Johnson. Johnson was nineteen years old when he was arrested with three other teens and charged with the double-murder of two used car-dealers on the West Side of Chicago in 1995. A motion for a new trial has been filed based on newly discovered evidence of Johnson’s innocence -- fingerprints from the crime scene that have been matched to another man whom Johnson and the other boys did not know.
Andrew Vail, of Jenner and Block, has partnered with the CWC on the case of Patrick Pursley. Pursley was convicted of a murder in Rockford, Illinois in 1993. Police recovered a gun from Patrick’s home that an expert claimed matched the gun that fired bullets recovered from the crime scene. Newly discovered forensic evidence has proven that this testimony was wrong and that there was no such match. A motion for a new trial has been filed.
Children and Family Justice Center
DLA Piper has long partnered with the CFJC to promote fair sentences for youth which hold them responsible for their actions in age-appropriate ways. Attorneys Anne Helms and Lawrence Wojcik (JD ’77) have represented and advised the Illinois Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Children, a project of the CFJC, filing amicus briefs in the Illinois circuit courts, the Illinois appellate courts, and the Illinois Supreme Court. In addition, DLA Piper has partnered with the CFJC on the wrongful conviction case of Jaime Hauad. DLA attorneys Richard Klawiter, Rachel Cowen, Terrence Smith, Dan Simon, Natalie Scruton, Andrew Fraerman (JD ’10) and Ankoor Bagchi have spent hours re-investigating the case, meeting with Jaime and his family, and fighting for him in the trial court, the appellate court, and before the Torture Inquiry and Review Commission.
Locke Lord attorneys Rusty Perdew (JD ’99) and Ryan Holz (JD ’07) have partnered with the CFJC on the case of Lindsey Crittle to represent Lindsey in various proceedings related to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama. They have spent several years investigating the case, meeting with the client, and litigating constitutional issues on Lindsey’s behalf in the circuit court.
Sidley Austin attorney Angela Weis has worked closely with CFJC attorneys to represent James Walker in post-conviction litigation and on appeal on issues relating to Miller v. Alabama. Ms. Weis’ work in investigating the case, meeting with the client and his family, and in researching and drafting issues in the lower courts and on appeal, have been critical to the CFJC’s efforts in this matter.
Eimer Stahl attorneys Alexis Chardon (JD ’08) and Jonathan Wier are partnering with CFJC to represent clients in cases for Project off the Record. Their representation in juvenile court provides clients an opportunity to demonstrate that they have earned the right to be removed from the juvenile sex offenders registry, a barrier that impacts the clients’ abilities to work, live in stable housing, and move forward. Ms. Chardon and Mr. Weir also drafted comments to the Illinois State Police Rules for Non-Court Ordered Juvenile Expungement of Records. If the recommended changes are implemented by ISP, the number of youth whose juvenile records will be expunged will greatly increase.
After eight years on the clinical faculty, Angela Vigil (JD ’95), now 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 clinic clients and centers, by coordinating pro bono projects, and by playing key roles in various Northwestern Law events and conferences. In addition, Baker attorneys Douglas Sanders (JD ’98), Rebecca Lock, Jaclyn Pampel, and Sonja Schiller have represented a CFJC client in criminal court for many years, supporting him as he faces one challenge after another.
In conjunction with Thomas Geraghty (Bluhm Legal Clinic Director) Baker & McKenzie and DLA Piper both supported a trial advocacy training in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania May 4-8, 2015. Each firm provided 5 lawyers for the training, titled “Training for the United Republic of Tanzania Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau”. The training was for 75 Tanzanian lawyers affiliated with Dr. Edward Hoseah’s anti-corruption agency (The United Republic of Tanzania Prevention and Combating Corruption Bureau). Also supporting the training were the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and Lawyers Without Borders.