From defending some of the most courageous people on the planet to achieving legal outcomes with far-reaching implications for the future of society, ArentFox Schiff’s commitment to public interest dates back to the firm's founding partners. Our pro bono clients inspire us daily with their resilience, integrity, and strength.
In the early years, our lawyers drafted legislation and performed legal work for local park boards, presided over the Illinois Constitutional Convention that wrote the 1870 Constitution, and signed the Articles of Incorporation for the Chicago Bar Association.
Today, we are proud to help immigrants who face persecution of all kinds stay in the United States. Our Task Force Melmastya provides free legal assistance to Afghans trying to escape to the US. We have worked on matters ranging from death penalty cases to class actions on behalf of women farmers to representing youth faced with expulsion from school or criminal prosecution. We have provided legal assistance through the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, and handled a number of US Supreme Court and state supreme court cases on domestic violence and privacy issues. We provide assistance to veterans in need. We’re smart in these worlds, too, and we consider it our privilege to serve the communities that need us.
Over the years, our attorneys and staff have contributed hundreds of thousands of hours, while ensuring the firm remains at the forefront of the private bar’s effort to address unequal access to legal representation.
Strong Leaders Have Strong Roots
Giving back is both a strong commitment and chosen responsibility of the firm. In 1939, name partner Albert E. Arent was one of four lawyers who launched the Civil Liberties section in the Criminal Division at the US Department of Justice – what would later become the Civil Rights Division. At the time, it was widely interpreted that the protection of civil liberties and the prevention of violence were primarily the responsibility of state and local governments.
Mr. Arent sought to change that. He prosecuted two cases to test whether the federal government had jurisdiction over loosely enforced civil rights laws. Mr. Arent was successful in both cases and helped usher in a new era for the federal government in seeking to protect the rights of all Americans. He considered this part of his career “the most meaningful” because of its lasting influence.
Al Arent’s legacy of public service endures. Throughout the firm’s history, we have sought to address unequal access to legal representation through our unwavering pledge to provide pro bono counsel to those in need.