Steve’s other pro bono activities have covered a vast range of causes. Since 2018, he has served
as chairman of the board of the Illinois Gun Violence Prevention Action
the leading advocate and sponsor of state legislation to stem the flow of the City and to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others who should have He is also one of the founders and the Chairman of the Founders Circle, civic
leaders who have each committed to contribute at least $10,000 per year legislative efforts. During his tenure, GPAC has led successful efforts to Store Licensing and Straw Purchaser Act, which includes a number of common-to prevent straw purchases and reduce the sale of illegal guns. In 2021 GPAC pass Fix the FOID/Ban Illegal Ownership Act, which requires universal background searches respect to all gun sales in Illinois. In the most recent legislative session, efforts to enact legislation banning “ghost guns” and other untraceable Steve led a team in a nationwide suit on behalf
of current and prospective transgender
service members challenging a 2017 ban on
transgender persons serving in the military.
After three years of hard-fought litigation,
the ban was reversed last year by the new
Steve was a member of the board and Chairman
of the Chicago Bar Foundation, the
leading funder of pro bono organizations
in the City. He also served for more than
two decades as a volunteer attorney at a
neighborhood legal clinic sponsored by the
Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation
(CVLS), as a member of CVLS’s board,
and for many years, chairman of its Advisory
Board. CVLS is the largest volunteer pro
bono organization in the City.
Since 2018, Steve has worked with Three
Angels, a faith-based orphanage and
grammar school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
In 2019, he solicited the donation of
a shipping container load of pearlite, a
soil supplement needed by Three Angel’s
farm on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince,
and then paid for the shipping container
and its transportation to Port-au-Prince.
But Steve doesn’t just give time and money.
During a 2018 trip, he got his hands
dirty installing a water purification system
which his church paid for.
Trial lawyer, public servant, pro bono – for
the good of – the many. War, commerce,
art. A nice evolution, in a single lifetime.
Hopefully, Steve has a fourth chapter ahead.
illegal guns flooding
hould not have them.
a group of thirty civyear
to fund GPAC’s
enact the 2019 Gun
PAC helped pass the
round searches with
firearms in Illinois.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Steve’s life work is remarkable, but not all that
much more so than pretty much every Fellow of this College. We have
all had remarkable careers; we would not be Fellows if that were not
so. And many of us have started in, or took time out for, or ended up
in public service. And many – most – of us have done significant pro
bono work. So why single Steve out for recognition?
And then there is the firm thing. The careful reader of the Journal will
have observed that we go to some lengths not to mention a Fellow’s
firm by name. Fellowship is an individual accomplishment and the
Journal tries not to be caught up in firm marketing. So why so strongly
identify Kirkland by name?
Good questions. Thanks, Bob, I thought so too.
Kirkland? My own firm has a pretty impressive pro bono program, but
I’m not going to publish its name. Here’s my rule. When a firm doesn’t
simply give its time away, when it gives up significant revenues it has
earned, that deserves a shout-out. In our last issue, we highlighted
Mike Jones, Steve’s partner, who won a half-billion-dollar settlement
for his pro bono clients after twelve years of litigation. The settlement
came with $12.5 million in statutory fees. Kirkland earned those fees.
But the firm gave the fees to a group of charitable organizations to
continue the work. Steve’s immigrant rights case is now in the stage of
determining statutory fees, and it is likely that Kirkland will be awarded
something substantial. Nothing is definite yet, but it is Steve’s expectation
that whatever fee is awarded will be donated back to immigrant
That deserves a shout-out.
Steve? Why did we tell his story as opposed to any of the thousands
of others we could have told? C’mon. Could you have read his story
without thinking “Hmmm. Have I done enough good in my career?
Should I do another pro bono case? Should I think about public service?”
We told Steve’s story simply because it’s a good one. And if it
inspires any of you to do a little more, then it’s a great one.