2020 Chesterfield Smith Award

John J. Conroy, Jr.
Principal, Baker & McKenzie LLP

Pro Bono Institute was pleased to honor John J. Conroy, Jr., Principal, Baker & McKenzie LLP*† (Baker McKenzie), for his extraordinary dedication to pro bono.

The Chesterfield Smith Award is named after the late Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Holland & Knight, who believed passionately and completely in equal justice for all, while standing firm in his conviction that public service and pro bono are absolutely essential elements in the lives of lawyers and in the work of great law firms. The award is not given annually, rather only when warranted by outstanding achievement.

An accomplished international banking and finance lawyer, John has demonstrated a career-long commitment to initiatives that address critical societal issues, including access to justice, human rights, diversity, and environmental stewardship. He has served on the boards of numerous civic, educational, and charitable organizations, including Pro Bono Institute’s Board of Directors since 2011. Other organizations for which John has donated his time and talents are the Law Board of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, the U.N.-affiliated International Organization for Migration Business Advisory Board, the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Trust Women Advisory Board, the Midtown Educational Foundation’s Board of Directors, and After School Matters® Board of Directors, a nonprofit organization that provides life-changing after-school and summer program opportunities to nearly 19,000 Chicago high school teens each year.

During his tenure as Baker McKenzie’s Global Chair and Head of the firm’s Global Strategic Initiatives, John spearheaded Baker McKenzie’s Corporate Social Responsibility Program, which promotes pro bono and community service, diversity and inclusion, and environmental sustainability. At Baker, pro bono is seen as a fundamental responsibility for all of its lawyers and has become an opportunity for the firm to give back locally, nationally, and internationally.

Baker McKenzie is a founding member of PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project, and a Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® Signatory.

As PBI commemorated the 25th Anniversary of the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge® initiative in 2020, it is especially fitting to recognize John for his unwavering commitment in pro bono throughout his career. “He has been a stalwart supporter of PBI and pro bono since the beginning,” noted PBI’s President & CEO Eve Runyon. “John has been a leader in advocating for the enhancement of law firm pro bono and access to justice, pushing us to increase engagement and learning to serve those in our local communities as well as around the globe. Not only has John’s dedication driven the growth of pro bono at his firm, as a member of PBI’s Law Firm Pro Bono Project Advisory Committee as well as its Board of Directors, John has helped ensure that pro bono remains a core ethos of law firm practice. I cannot thank him enough for his leadership over the years.”

PBI postponed the presentation of last year’s Chesterfield Smith Award and Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award due to the coronavirus pandemic. PBI will present both the 2020 and 2021 awards at a special virtual event during on Thursday, March 25, during the PBI 2021 Annual Conference.