Taft In The Community

At Taft, we believe that communities thrive when people are willing to commit their time, energy, and skills to making it happen. Since 1885, our professionals have been dedicated to public and political service to strengthen our neighborhoods, schools, and local charitable organizations. It is embedded in our past, it is prominent in our present, and it is expected in our future.

As demonstrated through the examples below, Taft attorneys and staff members actively participate in our communities through volunteer projects, pro bono services, financial support and sponsorships, and leadership on various boards of professional, educational, arts, religious, charitable, and civic organizations. 

Cincinnati Works
Taft helps Cincinnati Works carry out its vision to eliminate poverty in the local community. Cincinnati Works offers area residents career and financial coaching that assists them in advancing to economic self-sufficiency through employment. The nonprofit organization also partners with regional employers to solve a range of workforce needs, including employee retention and support of second chance hires. 

Clothes that Work
Taft Dayton sponsors Clothes That Work, a women-led non-profit that provides professional clothing, image counseling, and training for job seekers in Montgomery County Ohio.

Freedom a la Cart
Taft’s Columbus office is proud to support Freedom a la Cart, whose mission is to provide support to survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation, building self-sufficiency and creating a pathway to freedom. Freedom a la Cart makes meals more meaningful by combining fresh, flavorful cuisine with life-changing employment and impactful services to survivors of human trafficking. Taft supports Freedom a la Cart through donations, event sponsorships, and frequent orders of their delicious catering!

Greater Chicago Food Depository
Taft members volunteer throughout the year packing and sorting bulk items into individual and family portions for delivery to multiple distribution sites. As Chicago’s food bank, this nonprofit food distribution and training center is committed to ending hunger in the community, working through a network of 700 pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters to serve 170,000 meals for adults and children in Cook County every day.

Greater Cincinnati Foundation
Taft is proud to support the Greater Cincinnati Foundation (GCF) in its mission to advance racial equity and opportunity in the tri-state region. GCF drive systems change through impact investing, research, advocacy, education, and grantmaking, having provided $1.27 billion in grants over its lifetime. Most recently, Taft supported GCF's new convening space, which brings community partners together to address the region's greatest challenges. 

Growing Places Indy
Taft is a supporter of Growing Places Indy, a non-profit that empowers people to cultivate individual, family, and community wellness through urban agriculture, access to fresh local food, and mind-body education. In particular, Taft sponsors the Indy Winter Farmers Market that runs from November through April and hosts over 75 local vendors, providing a venue for Indiana’s sustainably minded family farms and small batch food producers to connect to the community and grow their businesses.

Just the Beginning – A Pipeline Program
Taft supports Just the Beginning Foundation in sponsoring and hosting a number of interactive programs on legal topics for minority high school students throughout the year, including their summer leadership institute. Partner Daniel Saeedi serves on the board of directors of the organization.

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
Taft Cleveland attorneys participate in Legal Aid’s Partners in Justice Program. Legal Aid is the fifth oldest legal aid organization in the US and serves clients in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Lorain counties. Taft attorneys help to secure justice and resolve fundamental problems for those who are low income and vulnerable.

The Legal Aid Society of Columbus
Taft Columbus attorneys have worked closely on several key community projects with The Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC), a non-profit dedicated to promoting advocacy, education, and legal aid to ensure access to justice in civil matters for economically disadvantaged individuals and groups in the area. Taft Columbus helped pioneer and volunteers regularly with the organization’s Tenant Advocacy Project, which helps Franklin County residents facing eviction by providing pro bono legal aid in tenant-landlord disputes. Additionally, Taft Columbus attorneys participate in several LASC-sponsored brief advice clinics and LASC’s Volunteer Resource Center, where they provide counsel on matters including creditor-debtor disputes, bankruptcy, and more.

Minds Matter Cleveland
Taft is proud to support Minds Matter, an organization dedicated to helping hard-working and high-achieving students from low-income situations get to and through the best college for them. To bridge the opportunity gap, Minds Matter connects students with resources and relationships necessary to achieve success, helping them reach their true potential and become the leaders of tomorrow.

Ralph Waldo Emerson School 58
Since 2011, Taft has contributed and pledged more than $1.4 million to Ralph Waldo Emerson School 58. With employee donations through the firm’s United Way of Central Indiana campaign, Taft supports an after school program and additional learning opportunities to support academic achievement. Taft employees are also involved with the students through tutoring, mentoring, and volunteering their time and talents. In addition, Taft sponsors life-changing microgrants through the Centers for Working Families (CWF) and pledges support to the Breaking Barriers Grant Program to help put Central Indiana’s most vulnerable neighbors on the path to financial stability.

Special Olympics Indiana
Taft actively supports Special Olympics Indiana and its mission to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people. Taft Indianapolis partner Trent Sandifur serves on the board of directors and the firm is a corporate sponsor. In addition, Taft employees have participated in the Polar Plunge, the organization’s signature event, raising funds to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.  

Stefanie's Team of Hope
Taft Columbus is a supporter of Stefanie's Team of Hope, a community of people who ride Pelotonia in honor of Stefanie Speilman and all those affected by cancer. Since 2010, they have raised over $3 million in the fight to end cancer, with 100% of every dollar going towards innovative life-saving cancer research at The James Cancer Research Hospital. 

Women Employed
Taft’s Chicago office supports Women Employed, an organization advocating for women in the workplace to effect policy change, expand access to educational opportunities, and fight for fair and inclusive workplaces so that all women, families, and communities thrive. Each year Taft participates in The Working Lunch, an event that brings together thousands of supporters. Partner Kris Kolky is a member of the Advisory Committee.

Women’s Wellness Fund
Taft's Dayton office proudly sponsors the annual Ribbon of Hope Luncheon, a fundraiser for women's wellness. More than 400 business and community leaders attend the event featuring a nationally known speaker who presents on breast cancer and women's health issues.

St. Herman House
Taft’s Cleveland office is proud to support St. Herman House, whose mission is to shelter and support homeless men on the path to well-being and independence and meet the basic needs of people in the Greater Cleveland community. Taft attorneys and staff have volunteered for a number of years to serve dinner at the shelter.

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
Taft attorneys and staff help build homes for Habitat for Humanity on an annual basis. This organization works to eliminate poverty housing from the Twin Cities and to make decent, affordable shelter for all people a matter of conscience. 

As an integral part of Taft’s community values, Taft attorneys are committed to providing legal services to low-income individuals, nonprofit and community organizations, and public interest causes, ranging from direct legal work for the indigent to extensive assistance to the courts. Because of our specialized skills and the role we play as part of the justice system, Taft attorneys have a unique opportunity to lead and serve on these issues.

We believe it is our professional duty to provide pro bono services and to approach them with the same client-first mindset and service we bring to every other matter.

Each year, we devote thousands of hours to individuals, groups, and nonprofit organizations who otherwise are unable to afford legal services. Our pro bono areas of service include civil rights, housing, appeals, guardianship, nonprofit governance, consumer, tax, veterans, immigration, intellectual property, family law, and service to the judicial system. This dedication to the public interest is inherent in Taft’s culture; our founding partners were heavily engaged in public and political service, and our current attorneys continue that legacy.

Pro bono work is encouraged throughout the firm, from new associates to senior partners with extensive experience. Taft associates, in particular, benefit in many ways from performing pro bono work, as it provides them with hands-on experience and helps them develop as leaders in law and public service. To support their efforts, Taft offers billable credit for up to 100 hours of pro bono work performed by associates.

Awards

Each year, Taft recognizes attorneys who best exemplify Taft's commitment to giving back to its communities with Pro Bono Awards. The Pro Bono Awards are based on overall pro bono achievements, the time, talent, and energy invested into the cases handled, and the positive impact of the work. Each award recipient or group of recipients can direct a donation of $500 by Taft to a charitable organization of their choice.

See past winners here.

Organizations We Serve


We urge our attorneys to match a cause that inspires them with a legal need in the community. Some of the pro bono and legal aid organizations and related programs that Taft attorneys have partnered with, or that Taft supports, are:

  • The Advocates for Human Rights
  • Anti-Defamation League
  • Chicago Bar Foundation
  • Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
  • Chicago Volunteer Legal Services
  • Child Advocates of Marion County (Indiana)
  • Children’s Law Center (Kentucky)
  • Children’s Law Center of Minnesota
  • Cincinnati Bar Foundation
  • Columbus Bar Foundation
  • Georgia Lawyers for the Arts
  • Greater Dayton Volunteer Lawyers Project
  • Heartland Pro Bono Council
  • HVAF of Indiana, Inc.
  • Illinois Supreme Court Volunteer Pro Bono Program for Criminal Appeals
  • Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
  • Indiana Legal Services
  • Indianapolis Bar Foundation
  • Indianapolis Legal Aid Society
  • Legal Aid Chicago
  • Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
  • Legal Aid Society of Columbus
  • Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati
  • Legal Aid of Western Ohio and Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (LAWO/ABLE)
  • LegalCORPS
  • Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid
  • Minnesota Disability Law Center
  • Minnesota Justice Foundation
  • National Homelessness Law Center
  • National Immigrant Justice Center
  • Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic (Indianapolis)
  • Ohio Justice & Policy Center
  • Pro Bono Collaborative (Cleveland)
  • Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio
  • Pro Se Project—Minnesota Chapter of Federal Bar Association
  • Public Interest Law Initiative
  • Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services
  • Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor
  • Volunteer Lawyers Network (Minnesota)

Accolades

Following are some examples of how we have been recognized for our pro bono efforts across our offices:

  • Taft was named in the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) 2021 Pro Bono Recognition Roster. The Pro Bono Recognition Roster recognizes law firms and corporations that have shown significant commitments and contributions to pro bono throughout the state of Illinois. 
  • Sixteen Taft attorneys were recognized by the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA) as North Star Lawyers for 2020. To be named a North Star Lawyer, an attorney must be a member of the MSBA and provide at least 50 hours of pro bono service in the calendar year.
  • Andrew Carlson was among 33 honorees selected for Minnesota Lawyer's 2020 Attorneys of the Year for his work spearheading Taft’s firm-wide pro bono efforts.
  • Timothy Eaton has been honored by Chicago Lawyer magazine as its 2020 Person of the Year. Eaton was recognized for his many contributions to the Chicago legal community including chairing the Court Operations During COVID-19 Task Force.
  • A team of firm attorneys, including attorneys Emily Collins, Kirsten Pagel, and Joey Balthazor received the 2019 Human Rights Volunteer Award for their pro bono service as part of the “Somali 92 team” at The Advocates for Human Rights Awards Dinner, an annual event honoring significant contributions to the human rights and to The Advocates' work.
  • Taft Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences Litigation partner Joseph M. Bennett-Paris, Ph.D. was selected as a “Pro Bono All-Star” by the Pro Bono Resource Center of the State Bar of Georgia for his commitment to pro bono work in 2018. He works with Georgia Lawyers for the Arts, an organization that provides legal assistance and educational programming to artists and arts organizations in the state.
  • The Ramsey County Bar Association’s 2018 “Distinguished Humanitarian Award” was awarded to Sally Scoggin for her years of distinguished pro bono and community service.
  • Taft was named to the 2018 “Honor Roll” for the Chicago Bar Foundation’s Investing in Justice campaign, which benefits more than 30 local pro bono and legal aid organizations.
  • Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) awarded the firm its “10-Year Social Justice Hero” at its 10th Annual Social Justice Uncorked celebration in 2017.
  • Children Law Center’s (CLC) 2017 “Distinguished Service Award” was awarded to the firm for its outstanding commitment to pro bono legal representation for Minnesota foster youth.
  • Taft was selected as the recipient of the "Outstanding Service by a Law Firm" award by the Columbus Bar Association, The Legal Aid Society of Columbus, and the Columbus Bar Foundation in 2017.
  • Taft was selected as the recipient of the first “Law Firm of the Year” award by the Pro Bono Partnership of Greater Cincinnati in 2016.

Taft’s Pro Bono Committee includes attorneys from all Taft offices and practice areas who are leaders in providing pro bono services in their communities. The committee’s objective is to connect attorneys in each of our offices with pro bono work that allows them to provide service to the community.

Andrew M. Carlson
Partner / Pro Bono Committee Chair Minneapolis

Monica A. Fennell
Pro Bono Director
Indianapolis

James D. Abrams
Partner
Columbus 

Vivek R. Hadley
Associate
Indianapolis

Dorie M. Akers
Associate
Cincinnati

Manny Herceg
Partner
Indianapolis 

Daniel H. Bryan
Partner
Cleveland

Aaron M. Herzig
Partner
Cincinnati

Catherine J. Courtney
Partner
Minneapolis

Karl J. Johnson
Associate
Minneapolis

Allison E. Czerniak
Associate
Chicago

Earl K. Messer
Industry Chair / Partner
Cincinnati

Brandon E. Dobyns
Associate
Dayton

Rachel L. Schaller
Partner
Chicago

William A. Doyle
Associate
Cleveland 

Rachel A. Smoot
Associate
Columbus

Anna M. Greve
Associate
Cincinnati

Lowell T. Woods
Partner
Dayton

 

Longtime residents of downtown Cincinnati, Taft expanded its presence with the Taft Center, an innovative, multi-functional reception space overlooking Fountain Square. Taft and its clients and other stakeholders can enjoy “front porch” city views as they partake in meetings, seminars, social events and community causes. In fact, the firm’s own involvement in civic and community organizations helped inspire the multi-purpose space.

Located on the second floor of the US Bank Tower, the 7,000-square-foot Taft Center serves as a meeting and conference site, as well as a reception space for networking events and mixers hosted by Taft clients and guests.

From Fountain Square, dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows offer illuminated views of the 1,200-square-foot “Living Room,” an expansive space equipped with wireless internet and movable seating. Beyond are private meeting rooms of varying sizes, fitted with high-tech electronics for international conferencing. A large lobby and 600-square-foot catering kitchen allow The Taft Center to accommodate guests with a variety of services.