Dedicated to Promoting Public
In addition to promoting excellence in our profession through the education, training and mentoring of lawyers and promoting comradery within our profession, the Federal Bar Association, Chicago Chapter is dedicated to promoting Public Service by our members. We have undertaken public service programs for years, and continue to develop additional public service programs this year, to provide our members with opportunities to directly participate in public service.
William J. Hibbler Schoolhouse to Courthouse Program
The FBA Chicago Chapter has a strong commitment to reaching out to children in our community who would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn firsthand about lawyers, the law and the courts. The centerpiece of our outreach to children is our annual William J. Hibbler Schoolhouse to Courthouse Program, which is now in its sixth year.
Every Spring, we host a class of middle- school or high-school students at our federal courthouse to meet with lawyers, observe court proceedings and engage with judges, where the students eagerly ask questions of the judges. We then host the students at a business-style lunch where the students review the day’s events, and hear from a speaker intended to inspire them to strive for success.
For the last several years, the speaker has been the Honorable Arlander Keys, retired magistrate judge, who speaks to the students about growing up in the deep south during the Jim Crow era, and the important role that education played in his rise from poverty to the bench. Judge Keys’ story is inspiring and always makes a strong positive impact on the students. In this era when young people are questioning the integrity of government and the criminal justice system, the students’ opportunity to observe the judiciary first-hand is increasingly important to their collective understanding and impression of our justice system.
Legal Prep High School
In 2016, the FBA started a program which sends our members to Legal Prep High School on the Chicago’s west side to teach students about the law, lawyers and civics. We are working with the school and the teacher to send a small group of lawyers, at least one of whom must be an FBA member, to the school to facilitate a structured lesson. These few hours spent at the school with the students are incredibly rewarding to both the students and the participating lawyers.
Holiday Toy Drive
In 2016 the FBA started a new holiday tradition by using our holiday party as a Toy Drive to benefit children attending St. Sabina Catholic Church’s toy give-away. St. Sabina Parish is on Chicago’s south side, and encompasses a neighborhood that is chronically plagued by gang violence and stubbornly entrenched poverty.
Members and judges attend the Holiday Party for free, and we ask for each attendee to bring an unwrapped toy for the FBA to donate to St. Sabina. As a result, our members and judges can attend the holiday party, share in the spirit of the season, enjoy food and drink, and also join together in the opportunity to bring children some holiday cheer.
Young Lawyers’ Division
Our Young Lawyer’s Division is planning a school supplies drive in late summer, before school starts. Stay tuned for more information.
Reentry of Convicted Felons: Buying Change
In addition to helping children, the FBA is dedicated to helping facilitate the successful reentry into society of convicted felons who have served their time and now need assistance to become a productive member of society. For several years, we have been promoting our Buying Change program, which encourages members to patronize businesses that provide employment for individuals who have been convicted of crimes. Our website has a section describing the program, including the companies and their goods and/or services, many of which make unique client gifts. The FBA, true to its commitment, purchases the catering services for its Chambers Lunches and other catered events from Inspiration Kitchen, known not just for its excellent food but also for its employment of individuals who have had contact with the criminal justice system. If we all support such businesses, we can make a difference in the jobs available to those who are starting the journey back to becoming a productive member of society, and we all benefit.
The FBA also is developing a program in conjunction with the district court to provide mentors for individuals who have served their time and are part of a court-sponsored program designed to assist them in reentry into society. We are working with the district court to develop a meaningful and rewarding program both for the individuals whom we will mentor and for our members who will serve as mentors. Stay tuned for more on this program, and for opportunities to volunteer as a mentor.