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Northwestern Law partners with national legal foundation to advance social justice and equity

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law is one of five leading U.S. law schools collaborating with the Social Justice Legal Foundation launched today with a $10 million pledge from Hueston Hennigan LLP. 

Its mission is to combine public interest issue expertise and elite academic resources with private sector experience in order to bring a fresh approach to curating and pursuing national trial work advancing social justice and equity. 

The Foundation brings together five of the leading U.S. law schools, leading trial lawyers from the private sector, and a lineup of advisors including judges, leading activists and scholars to vet and pursue groundbreaking cases. The Foundation will also serve as an incubator for the next generation of leading trial lawyers in the public sector by sponsoring five promising law school graduates as Hueston Hennigan Fellows for two‐year terms. 

The Foundation — funded and created by the partners of Hueston Hennigan LLP, including Northwestern Law alum Brian Hennigan — will collaborate with Columbia, Northwestern, Stanford, UCLA and Yale law schools to identify pressing legal issues and to mentor and develop a new generation of trial lawyers in the public sector. Representatives from the law schools will participate on the Board of Advisors and work with the Foundation to select an emerging leader from its graduates to serve a fully funded two‐year fellowship with the Foundation. 

To address evolving societal crises, the Foundation will rotate its primary areas of attention every two years from among the following initial areas: economic justice, housing/homeless discrimination, LGBTQ+ rights, immigrant justice, Native American discrimination, voting rights and criminal justice reform. The Foundation’s cases and focus areas will be informed by its executive leadership, academic partners, other social justice organizations and fellows. 

“We are excited to collaborate on this first‐in‐the‐nation initiative,” said Cindy Wilson, an advisory board member and director of the Center for Externships at Northwestern Law’s Bluhm Legal Clinic. “Given the social justice and equity challenges facing the country, it will be a wonderful opportunity for some of our graduates to serve as Foundation fellows.”

The Foundation will emphasize trial work and seek to collaborate with other social justice organizations and bar associations to take some of the most difficult and important cases to trial. The Foundation will begin with an executive director, two full‐time staff attorneys, five Hueston Hennigan fellows, and substantial pro bono attorney support from trial lawyers at Hueston Hennigan. 

“I look forward to working with our advisors, fellows, staff and pro bono attorneys to take to trial some of the most important cases affecting social justice,” said John Hueston, chairman of the Foundation’s Board. 

The Foundation was born of an idea to form a collaboration between an elite private sector trial firm and leading law schools in order to leverage a unique blend of courtroom talent and academic thought leaders. As Hueston Hennigan attorneys reflected on the challenges that have faced the country in the recent past, the firm decided now was the time to launch this effort to achieve equity and equality.