As part of Baker & Daniels' institutional support for promoting pro bono and public interest service, the firm has partnered with three Indiana law schools to develop fellowship programs in collaboration with law students, law school faculty and firm lawyers, and to recognize outstanding student achievement in this area.
Maurer School of Law, Indiana University - Bloomington
With the firm's support, Maurer School of Law created pro bono fellowships as well as a comprehensive program with greater infrastructure and coordination called the Access to Justice Program. Working alongside clinical faculty, student Fellows manage the Access to Justice program and in one year have developed pro bono opportunities for their fellow law students, organized the inaugural Pro Bono Fair with local public interest organizations, prepared an annual awards ceremony that honors students for their extensive volunteer contributions and assembled panel discussions featuring attorneys from a variety of practice areas who spoke about their personal commitment to pro bono work. As a result, the law school faculty approved a resolution encouraging each law student to provide 60 hours of pro bono work during their three years of law school. A new website for the program is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2009.
Baker & Daniels' involvement with the program has increased, as well. The following firm lawyers (and Maurer School of Law alumni) serve as a panel of experts on complex clinical cases: Jim Carr, Norm Hedges, Jay Jaffe, Sarah Jenkins, Jennifer Kremp, Clay Miller, Chris Scanlon, and Jay Yeager. Each summer, working under the guidance of Clinical Professor Carwina Weng, teams of lawyers and law students are matched to assist with Disability Clinic cases. This fall, the Fellows are designing a program to match students with Baker & Daniels' lawyers to assist with pro bono projects. Kathy Osborn serves as the firm's alumni contact for these collaborations.
The firm also sponsors recognition events in the fall honoring outstanding pro bono student service in the prior year, and the spring's Terry and Judy Albright award recognizes one student who performed outstanding pro bono and public interest during the school year.
Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis
As part of Baker & Daniels' commitment to public service and providing access to justice, the firm sponsored two Public Interest Fellowships through the Clinical Programs of the Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis. In 2008-2009, the Fellows focused on two new programs, which they worked with clinical faculty to develop:
- A forum to address Indiana's mortgage foreclosure issues by coordinating partnerships with the Indiana Supreme Court, the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority, and Indiana Legal Services, Inc. This resulted in the Indiana Mortgage Foreclosure Defense & Prevention Conference at IU School of Law – Indianapolis; over 100 lawyers throughout the state participated in the training. Jay Yeager offered opening comments on behalf of the firm.
- Expansion of the Criminal Defense Clinic and development of a Wrongful Convictions Clinic (WCC). The clinic allows students to perform work on cases and develop skills needed to advocate for those wrongfully convicted. The first WCC will begin in fall 2009. To support the WCC, an Advisory Board was assembled that draws upon broad partnerships in the criminal bench and bar. J. P. Hanlon serves on the WCC's Advisory Board.
Catherine Meeker was the keynote speaker at the school's end-of-year recognition program for students' outstanding clinical and pro bono service and spoke on the multi-year, state-wide Legal Needs Study and strategic planning process that she and others helped lead in partnership with Indiana State Bar Association, Indiana Bar Foundation, and Indiana Legal Services, Inc., the Indiana Pro Bono Commission, and the Supreme Court of Indiana.
University of Notre Dame Law School
Baker & Daniels' pro bono collaboration with Notre Dame Law School resulted in the creation of five separate student pro bono initiatives over the past year. The law school hosted a firm-sponsored recognition event at the end of the spring semester to celebrate the creation of the program and the completion of a full year of initiatives. The law school intends to build the momentum established during this inaugural year and develop more initiatives in 2009-2010.
Lawyers from the South Bend office have worked with Notre Dame law students on pro bono cases referred from the Family Justice Center. Rich Hill and Alison Fox serve as the firm's points of contact for these efforts between the law school, Family Justice Center and firm volunteers.