Illinois Governor JB Pritzker (JD ’93) and Dean Hari Osofsky Among Speakers at Legal Services Corporation’s 50th Anniversary Symposium


Public Interest
Dean Hari Osofsky, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, and former dean of Harvard Law School Martha Minow
Dean Hari Osofsky, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, and former dean of Harvard Law School Martha Minow at the Legal Services Corporation’s 50th Anniversary Symposium

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker (JD ’93) provided opening remarks at the Legal Services Corporation’s (LSC’s) 50th anniversary symposium, held February 29, 2024, at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. An independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974, LSC provides financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans.

“As the largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans, LSC has worked for 50 years to advance the creed that everyone deserves representation and access to the legal system,” noted Governor Pritzker.

LSC’s celebration included a panel discussion, moderated by former dean of Harvard Law School Martha Minow, which focused on closing the justice gap through legal education. Local law school deans served as panelists for the discussion, including Northwestern Pritzker Law’s Dean Hari Osofsky, Loyola University Chicago’s Michèle Alexandre, University of Illinois Chicago’s Nicky Boothe, Southern Illinois University’s Camille Davidson, Chicago-Kent’s Anita K. Krug, University of Chicago’s Thomas Miles, and DePaul University’s Jennifer Rosato Perea.

Dean Hari Osofsky speaks on a panel of local law school deans.
Dean Hari Osofsky speaks on a panel of local law school deans.

Dean Alexandre began the discussion by stressing the need for law schools to select deans committed to justice. Dean Boothe added how important it is for deans to ensure students “understand the privilege that they have, and to…make sure that they in some way do something to close that gap that we have with the access to justice.”

Dean Osofsky congratulated the Corporation for its anniversary before adding, “Access to justice matters because we as lawyers, legal professionals, and law schools have an obligation to advance greater justice, and more equal access to representation is a critical part of that.” She discussed the emphasis at Northwestern Pritzker Law that we have not only opportunities but responsibilities and highlighted seven ways that law schools have a role to play in increasing access to justice, like the work at the Bluhm Legal Clinic, support for public interest students and pro bono work, interdisciplinary efforts at technology innovation, legal reform, educating students across the curriculum, research on access to justice to allow for data-driven approaches to bridging the gap, and efforts to enhance access to legal education.

Dean Perea agreed and emphasized the importance of law schools in developing servant leaders. “I think it’s not enough for the students to go out there and for them to be in the clinics, but for us to be out there in the community with them: faculty, staff, other students, upper class students, and our alumni.”

Martha Minow asked the deans to share examples from their schools of innovation, community impact, and service of the profession.

Dean Osofsky highlighted a multi-year interdisciplinary study by Northwestern Pritzker Law’s Children and Family Justice Center showing that public defense in Illinois is in a state of crisis and the Center’s important advocacy work in response to those results, as well as the Seigle Clinic for Immigrant Youth and Families and the work it does for local migrants. She also touched on Law and Technology Initiatives at the Law School, including how the Innovation Lab, led by Professor Daniel Linna, Jr., has collaborated on projects with the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, including working with its chatbot re-intervention to help tenants with landlord problems.

Minow concluded the panel by expressing hope for the future of law schools. “This next generation is devoted to actually trying to make a difference,” she said. “Every law school represented here is not only training up and inspiring new generations, but they’re also providing service every single day and also innovating and doing research.”