Giving Back Our commitment to the community
At Goldman Ismail, we are dedicated to making a difference by supporting local charitable and legal organizations.
We fulfill this mission through our Firm’s myriad pro bono commitments, as well as our participation in a variety of local volunteer service projects and fundraising activities. We bring the same creativity and energy to these endeavors as we do to our client advocacy. For us, it’s simple: we believe lawyers have a responsibility to give back to their communities, and we strive every day to make that conviction a reality.
Pro Bono Legal Advocacy
Goldman Ismail is committed to delivering pro bono legal advocacy to underserved individuals and communities. The Firm’s Pro Bono Committee connects Goldman Ismail attorneys and staff to legal aid organizations seeking volunteers for significant pro bono projects. Our Firm has advocated on behalf of indigent prisoners, juveniles in need of legal representation, immigrants seeking asylum, and other disadvantaged members of the community, at both the trial and appellate levels.
Some of the Firm’s representative pro bono commitments include:
Goldman Ismail represents asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their home countries in collaboration with the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC). Our pro bono work includes interviewing witnesses, preparing affidavits, arguing motions, researching country conditions, developing expert testimony, and representing the asylum seekers at their ultimate merits hearings.
NDIL Settlement Assistance Program
In partnership with the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, Goldman Ismail attorneys provide free legal services to pro se parties in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois regarding settlement. These services include counseling clients, engaging in settlement negotiations, and appearing at settlement conferences.
Goldman Ismail attorneys have sought and accepted pro bono appointments to serve as trial and appellate counsel for indigent prisoners in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Our legal work has included civil litigation and petitions seeking writs of habeas corpus. The Firm represented Tyrone Petties in his Section 1983 lawsuit alleging deliberate indifference to his Achilles tendon rupture while incarcerated at Stateville Correctional Center. Our advocacy led to a rare en banc rehearing and reversal of summary judgment by the Seventh Circuit in a landmark August 2016 decision. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari, the case was favorably settled on remand.
Detroit Homeowners Class Action
On February 13, 2020, Goldman Ismail filed a class-action complaint in the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of Detroit homeowners who were denied due process in connection with their 2017 property tax assessments. The suit alleges that in 2017, amid a citywide, state-mandated residential reappraisal, the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan failed to notify homeowners in a timely manner that they were eligible to appeal their property assessment. “The City’s failure eviscerated the due process rights of every Detroit homeowner in one blow,” the lawsuit reads. This failure has also left “many homeowners no recourse but to pay more than they should owe, face delinquency, or even fall prey to property tax foreclosure.” The suit also alleges that Wayne County was unjustly enriched from the proceeds of property tax foreclosures that went forward after the due process failures in 2017. The suit was prepared in consultation with the Coalition for Property Tax Justice, a group composed of local community leaders led in part by Chicago-Kent Professor Bernadette Atuahene, who has done extensive research on Detroit’s overassessments and the foreclosure crisis. Following Goldman Ismail’s successful appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that resulted in the reversal of a district court order dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims, the case is now proceeding to discovery.
Press coverage of the initial filing of this matter is available here, here, and here. Press coverage of the successful Sixth Circuit appeal is available here, here, and here. The Sixth Circuit’s opinion is available here.
Consumer Protection on Behalf of 3M
On April 28, 2020, Goldman Ismail filed a lawsuit on behalf of 3M against a medical supply company that targeted a government official in Wisconsin with a fraudulent offer to sell N95 respirators at grossly inflated prices. In an effort to combat this price-gouging and false claim of affiliation with 3M and to protect consumers in dire need of personal protective equipment, 3M enlisted Goldman Ismail to sue this purported medical supply company. The lawsuit concerns Defendant’s use of 3M’s famous trademarks to perpetrate a false and deceptive price-gouging scheme on unwitting customers and consumers, including the state of Wisconsin, during the global COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2020, the Court entered a consent judgment and permanent injunction against the medical supply company.
Press coverage of this matter is available here, here, and here.
Irwin County Detention Center Gynecological Abuse
In mid-September 2019, a whistleblower complaint made public serious allegations of abuse and coerced gynecological care at a privately-operated ICE detention center in Georgia. Shortly thereafter, Goldman Ismail partnered with medical experts and immigrants’ rights organizations to investigate those allegations and advocate for women who suffered abuse while in custody at Irwin County Detention Center. In collaboration with advocates in Georgia and around the U.S., Goldman Ismail helped prepare expert evaluations and congressional reports outlining the medical abuse suffered by women in detention. Our work helped reveal a disturbing pattern in which women either underwent abdominal surgery or were pressured to have surgery that was not medically indicated and to which they did not consent. Goldman Ismail continues to work with several prominent immigrants’ rights law school clinics pursuing a consolidated federal habeas and class action petition on behalf of many of those women.
Goldman Ismail also seeks opportunities to serve its community outside the courtroom. Our efforts in recent years have included the following activities:
Environmental Sustainability And Carbon Offsets
We are committed to minimizing our environmental footprint and operating in a manner that is sustainable for our natural environment. As part of our movement towards a carbon-neutral operations model, we purchased carbon offsets for all emissions, including operations, commuting, and travel-related emissions, generated by the firm in 2020 through 2022. We also prioritize sustainability when sourcing materials and selecting vendors. A sustainability committee comprised of attorneys and staff spearheads our efforts in this area.
We support and participate in fundraising for various worthy local non-profits, including Step Up, the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, One Million Degrees, the Legal Council for Health Justice, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, and the Shriver Center on Poverty Law.
Lawyers in the Classroom
We teach civic lessons to middle schoolers in the Chicago Public School system through a program sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation.
Chicago Scholars Foundation
We mentor academically ambitious students from under-resourced communities to help them complete college and become the next generation of leaders.
Lurie Children’s Hospital Toy Drive
Each December, we organize a firm-wide Toy Drive to collect toys for children of all ages who are patients at Lurie Children’s Hospital.
GITBB Race Around Chicago
To maintain our volunteer efforts while social distancing throughout the pandemic, we organized a virtual fundraiser where employees individually ran up to 227 miles (the circumference of the city) over the course of the summer of 2020 to raise funds for the Greater Chicago Food Depository.
Various 5k Events
We have participated in various charitable local 5k events, including the Race to Wrigley (supporting Cubs Charities for health, fitness, and education) and Race Judicata (supporting Chicago Volunteer Legal Services). During the summer of 2020, we also participated in the 1 Million Miles for Justice virtual 5k (supporting the NAACP).
Virtual Pack & Learn
In response to global events, Goldman Ismail wanted to do its part to welcome Afghani and other refugees to Chicago and surrounding areas. In lieu of in-person volunteerism during the pandemic, our team participated in a virtual pack & learn project to support local Chicago community organizations via United Way’s Neighborhood Network. We collected and packed materials for 60+ hygiene kits for those in need.
Chicago Park District Clean-Ups
We have organized and participated in annual clean-up projects on the North Side of Chicago, sponsored by the Chicago Park District.
I Grow Chicago
We ran a drive to gather cleaning supplies, pantry items, and necessities for this “hyper-local” community center based in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood.
Cradles to Crayons
We have volunteered on-site at the Cradles to Crayons Chicago facility, assembling packages made up of essential items for children who live in homeless or low-income situations. We also ran a firm-wide clothing, book, and toy drive for this program.
Random Acts of Flowers
We volunteered at Random Acts of Flowers, spending a morning creating floral arrangements with donated, recycled flowers that were delivered to individuals in assisted-living facilities.
Greater Chicago Food Depository
Our team participated in a food packing event at the Greater Chicago Food Depository on the South Side of Chicago, where we organized and packed approximately three tons of produce for delivery to underserved communities.