The award honors the Foundation’s commitment to increasing legal services to those of modest means, and specifically spotlighted its Justice Entrepreneurs Project. JEP, as it is known, is the foundation’s vehicle for preparing talented and entrepreneurial lawyers in the Chicago area to manage innovative, socially conscious and successful law practices. The project is dedicated to helping Chicago lawyers establish long-term practices that serve the legal needs of low- and moderate-income individuals and small businesses.
The Louis M. Brown Award originated in 1995 and honors the work of Louis M. Brown, who for more than 60 years worked toward improving access to legal services for those of moderate incomes. The award itself honors the work of those who advance this mission in ways that are remarkable and replicable. This year, there were 43 nominees that came from bar groups, nonprofits, the courts, law schools and entrepreneurial entities.
The Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services is also recognizing two programs with Meritorious Recognition, including for the first time an entity based in Canada. They are:
- The British Columbia Civil Resolution Tribunal, which provides an interactive website with resources and a platform for people to address their small claims matters on a 24/7 basis. An online adjudicator will make final, binding decisions for those unable to negotiate a resolution for themselves.
- Chi City Legal, a small law firm in Chicago with a niche practice that utilizes innovations in technology and practice management. The two-person firm represents small landlords who may rent an attic or basement or have a two-flat home, where the flow of rent money is essential to avoid foreclosure. The firm provides subscription services, has set fees and uses a chatbot to interact with potential clients. The two partners, Conor Malloy and John Norkus, met while participating in the Chicago Bar Foundation’s JEP program.
The “Brown Select” Award, which goes to the nominee that gets the most online votes from the public, is the Rural Law Opportunities Program, a partnership between the University of Nebraska College of Law and three state colleges or universities — Chadron State College, the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Wayne State College. The program covers tuition expenses for students who commit to practice in the state’s rural areas. More than 3,000 people visited the Brown Award website and voted.
The Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services will present the 2018 awards on Friday, Feb. 2 at a joint luncheon of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, National Association of Bar Executives and National Conference of Bar Foundations during the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, B.C., Canada.
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