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Katten’s Jonathan Baum to Receive Public Interest Law Initiative’s 2010 Distinguished Public Service Award

Firm News | November 8, 2010
CHICAGO – Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP is pleased to announce that partner Jonathan K. Baum, the firm’s Director of Pro Bono Services, has been selected to receive the Public Interest Law Initiative’s (PILI) 2010 Distinguished Public Service Award. Mr. Baum will be honored at an awards luncheon on December 9 at the Renaissance Downtown Chicago Hotel.

The Distinguished Public Service Award honors an individual whose commitment to public interest work has shaped a career dedicated to service. Each year PILI’s Annual Awards Luncheon gathers more than 450 members of the legal community to celebrate the best aspects of the profession. It is a forum to recognize those performing remarkable public interest and pro bono work. The luncheon features several awards to acknowledge those whose work epitomizes the ideal of access to justice for all. Previous recipients of the Distinguished Public Service Award include Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Ann McMorrow and U.S. Appeals Court Judge Abner Mikva.

Mr. Baum is one of only a handful of large law firm partners in the nation, and was the first in the Midwest, to devote himself full time to the delivery of pro bono services. An experienced litigator, Mr. Baum both actively litigates individual cases, principally in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties, and also coordinates the firm’s entire pro bono practice, both litigation and transactional.

Mr. Baum served as chair of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law from 2004 to 2005, and was awarded the “Unsung Hero Award” from Action for Children in 2004, honoring him for his victory in an Illinois Supreme Court case denying local governments the authority to interfere with the operation of day care homes licensed by the State of Illinois. Mr. Baum’s extensive service to the community and the bar has also included serving on the Illinois General Assembly’s Committee to Re-examine the Illinois Constitution, as chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Individual Rights & Responsibilities Section, as a member of the Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, as a member of the City of Evanston Human Relations Commission, as a member of the Board of Education of Evanston/Skokie Community Consolidated School District No. 65, and as a vice president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his J.D. from the University of Chicago.

Katten has a long-term commitment to helping the poor, the powerless and the disenfranchised obtain first-rate representation without charge. Attorneys and other legal professionals give their time, resources and talent to serve individuals and organizations in need, to engage in important national litigation, and to partner with local legal service providers to ensure access to the justice system. The firm’s pro bono program includes litigation, both on behalf of individuals and groups, in matters of housing and public accommodations discrimination, civil liberties, immigration, criminal defense, prisoners’ rights and consumer matters. Katten attorneys also perform transactional work in such areas as corporate and tax assistance for nonprofit organizations, intellectual property law, employee benefits and international trade law. Under Mr. Baum’s leadership, Katten’s pro bono program has won numerous awards over the years, from groups including the American Bar Association, the Chicago and Washington Lawyers’ Committees for Civil Rights, the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.

Since its founding in 1977, PILI has cultivated a lifelong commitment to public interest law by creating opportunities for law students and attorneys to provide public interest and pro bono work in Illinois. At every stage in the life cycle of a legal career, PILI guides attorneys in actualizing their professional responsibilities and personal commitments to equal access to justice through a continuum of public interest law and pro bono opportunities. PILI’s programs first capture emerging lawyers when they are law students and new law school graduates, and then extend into legal practice to reach new associates, seasoned lawyers and senior attorneys working in every sector of the legal community—private, academic, government and nonprofit.