The PBEye

Pro Bono As We See It
January 20, 2011

Remembering the Czar

The death of Jerry Solovy, chair emeritus of Jenner & Block LLP*, is a profound loss for the legal profession and for pro bono.  Jerry was a remarkable lawyer and a brilliant litigator.  He took the law and the justice system very seriously, but, despite his renown and stature, he did not take himself seriously.  Hence his preferred nickname “The Czar” which found its way onto his business cards and office notepaper. 

Jerry was a lifelong passionate supporter of and hands-on participant in pro bono, beginning, as a younger lawyer, with the Witherspoon death penalty case, one of his favorites, and continuing even as his reputation and workload grew.  As the head of Jenner & Block, Jerry built and ran a great law firm that made pro bono a core value, never merely something on the side.  As a result, Jenner is one of the world’s greatest pro bono firms, taking on a wide variety of often controversial and time-intensive pro bono matters and providing their pro bono clients the highest quality of advocacy and professionalism.

Jerry Solovy was a great friend of the Pro Bono Institute.  He served for many years on our Law Firm Pro Bono Project Advisory Committee and was a great supporter of the launch of our Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®, reveling in how controversial the Challenge was in its inception.  In shaping his firm’s pro bono program, he mentored several generations of lawyers there who share his commitment to public service.  We will miss his impatience with conventional wisdom, wise counsel, great humor, and elegant turn of phrase.  Most of all, we will miss his passion for helping the most oppressed and vulnerable among us. 

*denotes a Signatory to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®