Illinois Judges Association

Pro Bono Spotlight - April 2022

Judge Thomas O'Shaughnessy is the subject of our April Pro Bono Spotlight.  A true renaissance Jurist in many respects.  Judge O'Shaughnessy represents a model for Judges in helping all achieve access to Justice.

Judge O'Shaughnessy is presently the Chief Judge of the Fifth Circuit, located in Vermillion County.  He has served as a member of PILI's Fifth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono committee for many years.  According to Michael Bergmann, the Executive Director of PILI, the Judge has promoted many Pro Bono opportunities in Vermillion County.  He is also a Past President of the Vermillion County Bar Association and active in the ISBA.

His history of service to the those in need is long and diverse.  Suffice it to say that his concern for others in need is reflected by his service to CASA and the Center for Children's Services as a director.  In 2011, this SIU Law graduate was honored as the Catlin Citizen of The Year for community volunteerism.

As a Chief Judge, O'Shaughnessy is very cognizant of the importance of the need for pro bono.

To end I directly quote Judge O'Shaughnessy:

"The practice of law is, or should be, more than files and fees, more than a business.  Clients come to us with lives more often than not turned upside down, full of worries and uncertainties.  They are our neighbors in need of support, guidance, and compassion.  They need to know they are listened to rather than talked at.  Judges have a role in reminding the members of our Bar that the secret chord of being a good attorney is realizing the practice of law isn't about you.  No one has learned and knows better the truth of this sentiment than those who perform pro bono work.  This work evidences fidelity to community, civic pride, and a conviction that we are called to live our faith in all our activities and in all aspects of our lives--that we, as lawyers, have a responsibility to serve God and neighbor and thus, an obligation to improve and enhance our communities.

Faith teaches the sanctity and dignity of the individual and proves the foundation for a commitment to advocacy on behalf of every person and thereby attaining the essential purpose of our legal system--justice for all.  The courts are dedicated to making our system work for everyone.  This is a goal worthy of our finest efforts and we are proud that, within the Fifth Judicial Circuit, pro bono attorneys within our referral program rise to this challenge.  Their selfless work brings a voice to people who would otherwise go without.  They make a difference for so many families who, without them, would have had no access to legal services and consequently, no access to justice.  Through them, people find hope--in our legal system, in society, in themselves."