Monthly Archives: January 2009

Helping the elderly through pro bono efforts

Winston & Strawn recently entered into a pro bono partnership with the legal department of client Bank of America, N.A., to assist low-income seniors with disabilities. Attorneys from Winston & Strawn and Bank of America helped seniors complete living wills and powers of attorneys.

The Center for Disability and Elder Law facilitated the training for the attorneys who participated. And following the training, they traveled to a senior center on Chicago’s South Side to meet with clients and prepare documents on site.

Greg McConnell, pro bono counsel at Winston & Strawn, said the firm has a great relationship with the legal staff at Bank of America and they had discussed how to partner together on a pro bono opportunity.

He said Bank of America is a leader in getting its corporate legal department more involved in pro bono matters. One of the challenges is that legal departments often do not have the infrastructure to find, vet, and secure pro bono opportunities.

“When they look to people like us, they are looking for us to help them identify the best opportunities to help meet both their ethical obligations, and internal requirements,” he said. “It’s wonderful to be able to work with them, to share some time with them, while helping out the community.”

During the pro bono activity, a lawyer from the firm and a lawyer from the bank team up to help about 10 clients with such activities as preparing a living will and designating a power of attorney, McConnell said.

“You have a vulnerable population, a group of low-income seniors who have a real need for these types of directives to allow them to take care of their lives…” he said. “We are helping those who need it the most.”

Levenfeld Pearlstein awards grants

Levenfeld Pearlstein announced the awarding of $60,000 in grants to two Chicago community organizations.

The firm made grants of $30,000 each to the Erie Family Health Center and to SGA Youth & Family Services as part of its Corporate Contributions Program. Launched in 2007, this program commitment is part of a broader civic and social responsibility initiative that Levenfeld Pearlstein has undertaken since its founding in 1999.

Chairman Bryan I. Schwartz said the firm wants to make a difference in its community. The firm initially hired a consultant to learn the details behind the grant-making process. The consultant, he said, recommended that the firm look for organizations with a similar culture to what exists in the firm.

Younger organizations focused on the process of change fit well with Levenfeld Pearlstein, he said.

“We try to do what we can to make an impact on the community, and that’s what these two grants represent,” Schwartz said. “We fund things that are going to make a difference. We are not just throwing money at it. The people who are on our committee are extremely thoughtful about how this makes an impact.”

Levenfeld Pearlstein’s grant to the Erie Family Health Center represents the firm’s second year of support for Erie’s school-based clinic at Ryerson Elementary School, which serves some of Chicago’s lowest-income communities.  The grant will fully fund the continuation of integrated mental health services, community, and education programs, providing students with direct access to mental health services. This will include an on-site licensed clinical social worker to provide behavioral services, teacher and staff training, and outreach to parents and the community.

Erie Family Health Center seeks to address the immediate needs of children, give them the tools they need to address their challenges, and provide enhanced intervention to improve the quality of their lives, according to the firm.

Levenfeld Pearlstein’s grant to SGA Youth & Family Services (SGA), a Chicago nonprofit organization dedicated to helping at-risk youth whose futures are most in jeopardy, also represents the firm’s second year of funding to SGA’s Operation BIG Hug program. This program is focused on early detection of autism in pre-school children born to young, low-income parents. It includes screening and assessment, home-based support services and community education and awareness. Operation BIG Hug was launched in early 2007 as part of SGA’s work to enhance the social and emotional development of children and adolescents.

Levenfeld Pearlstein’s Corporate Contributions Program, is a grant-making program based on the firm’s belief that its accomplishments are routed in accountability and that by supporting the innovation and leadership of nonprofit organizations, it extends its ability to make a difference in the community.

For additional information on Levenfeld Pearlstein’s Corporate Contributions Program, please visit www.lplegal.com/about/socialresponsibility/charitablegiving.  More information about Erie Family Health Center is available at www.eriefamilyhealth.org, and for more information on SGA visit www.sga-youth.org/.

Q & A with Neal Goldstein

Today we talk with Neal Goldstein, a partner in the corporate health care group at Seyfarth Shaw. He has been practicing law for 19 years.

What do you find the most interesting about your practice?

As an attorney representing physicians and other health care providers, I witness, on a daily basis, the profound changes that are occurring in our country’s health care delivery system. It is fascinating to see these changes from not only my perspective as a consumer, but from the perspective of my clients, the providers.

What makes a good lawyer?

A good lawyer must be committed to excellence and integrity, must be a good listener, must possess a genuine eagerness to serve their clients, and must always learn, grow, and evolve with the times and the needs of their clients.

What is the biggest legal news right now, and what is its impact?

There has been increased governmental scrutiny and regulations relating to physician income from outside sources. The best example of this is the ever-changing law on physician self-referrals, otherwise known as the federal Stark Law.  Physicians and hospitals face severe penalties if they do not comply with the Stark law and other laws relating to health care fraud and abuse.

Q & A with Neal Goldstein

Today we talk with Neal Goldstein, a partner in the corporate health care group at Seyfarth Shaw. He has been practicing law for 19 years.

What do you find the most interesting about your practice?

As an attorney representing physicians and other health care providers, I witness, on a daily basis, the profound changes that are occurring in our country’s health care delivery system. It is fascinating to see these changes from not only my perspective as a consumer, but from the perspective of my clients, the providers.

What makes a good lawyer?

A good lawyer must be committed to excellence and integrity, must be a good listener, must possess a genuine eagerness to serve their clients, and must always learn, grow, and evolve with the times and the needs of their clients.

What is the biggest legal news right now, and what is its impact?

There has been increased governmental scrutiny and regulations relating to physician income from outside sources. The best example of this is the ever-changing law on physician self-referrals, otherwise known as the federal Stark Law.  Physicians and hospitals face severe penalties if they do not comply with the Stark law and other laws relating to health care fraud and abuse.

A lawyer and a teacher

Kevin Connelly first learned about Cristo Rey Jesuit High School about 10 years ago.

As a law school professor, he taught the wife of one of the school’s administrators. The school needed some labor questions answered concerning its work-study program, which allows students to earn 65 percent of the cost of their education by working five full days each month in entry-level positions at corporations and law firms.

Connelly prepared a one-page fact sheet about the labor laws associated with young people.

In the meantime, his son had graduated with a master’s degree in education and Connelly thought that Cristo Rey would be a good place for his son to teach at. While his son did not end up working there, Connelly’s interest in the school only increased.

“I fell in the love with the school,” said Connelly, of counsel at Drinker Biddle & Reath. “There was a vibe at the school that was electric, from the faculty to the students.”

He asked the school if he could volunteer to coach and teach there. Today he teaches American literature and civics to juniors at the school, and is an assistant coach of the boys soccer team and the girl’s basketball team.

He works at Drinker Biddle from about 8 a.m. until noon, and then catches the Pink Line to Cristo Rey to finish out his day.

Founded by the Jesuits in 1996, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School is a neighborhood school with the mission of offering the best college preparatory education available to the youth of the Pilsen/Little Village community of Chicago, for whom other private schools are not a financial option, according to the school’s website.

Cristo Rey is able to offer this type of education because of its most innovative component: the Corporate Internship Program (CIP). Many, many corporations and law firms employ these students through the CIP program.

The school opened its doors with only 79 students and now has grown to over 530. In response to the success of Cristo Rey, the Cassin Educational Initiative Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invested close to $30 million toward replicating this educational model around the United States.

“At comparable ages, the Cristo Rey kids are better mannered and more mature than my children and most of their counterparts,” Connelly said. “The school is special.”

The school is attempting to educate and advance a group of students who may not get this type of education by taking the traditional route, he said. They come from families and live in neighborhoods where people do not traditionally go on to college.

He said the school is posing the question, “Can we take kids and move them to the professional and college level in a single generation? I’m fascinated by the attempt at that process. Can I guarantee that it will work? No. But I can cross my fingers that it will.”

Q & A with Lazar Raynal

Lazar Raynal is a partner in the trial department at McDermott Will & Emery, and a member of the firm’s management committee.

He is co-head of the Trusts and Estates Controversy Practice Group, and has been practicing for 20 years. His practice today mainly includes complex commercial lawsuits, coverage litigation for insurance companies, and disputes involving wealthy families and trusts.

What do you find the most interesting about your practice?

Every week, my practice allows me to learn new things about businesses and industries.  I take the new things I’ve learned, then figure out how to use that information to win for my clients. That’s the most interesting and challenging part of my practice — it makes work fun.

What makes a good lawyer?

Good judgment, hard work and creativity.

What is the biggest legal news right now, and what is its impact?

The fallout from the meltdown of the financial markets.  It is exposing significant companies to bankruptcy and default issues, as well as suits for negligence and lack of due diligence. McDermott is particularly busy assisting companies with these thorny issues.

Q & A with Lazar Raynal

Lazar Raynal is a partner in the trial department at McDermott Will & Emery, and a member of the firm’s management committee.

He is co-head of the Trusts and Estates Controversy Practice Group, and has been practicing for 20 years. His practice today mainly includes complex commercial lawsuits, coverage litigation for insurance companies, and disputes involving wealthy families and trusts.

What do you find the most interesting about your practice?

Every week, my practice allows me to learn new things about businesses and industries.  I take the new things I’ve learned, then figure out how to use that information to win for my clients. That’s the most interesting and challenging part of my practice — it makes work fun.

What makes a good lawyer?

Good judgment, hard work and creativity.

What is the biggest legal news right now, and what is its impact?

The fallout from the meltdown of the financial markets.  It is exposing significant companies to bankruptcy and default issues, as well as suits for negligence and lack of due diligence. McDermott is particularly busy assisting companies with these thorny issues.