Our Golden Gavel Awardee: Susie Lees of the Allstate Corporation

August 6, 2020

The beauty of the Golden Gavel Celebration dinner is how it brings friends new and old together to celebrate our honorees and CARPLS’ mission.

This is the perfect time to highlight our Golden Gavel Awardee, Susie Lees, of the Allstate Corporation. The Golden Gavel award recognizes leaders committed to increasing access to justice and pro bono legal aid.

As a Top 100 company, Allstate Corporation has always been committed to being a force for good in the community in a myriad of ways. Susie joined Allstate in 1988 and worked her way up to Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, General Counsel and Secretary.

“She has demonstrated a dedication to helping others and has empowered her entire legal staff to do the same,” notes David Schaffer, co-head of Pro Bono Committee programs across the Law and Regulation Department at Allstate.

When CARPLS selected her as our awardee, we were particularly struck by her enthusiasm for the use of technology in legal aid to remove systemic barriers—something that is integral to CARPLS’ service.

“Susie leverages technology and innovation to serve others through the department’s pro bono and ‘Vital Communities’ programs. She’s pushed our legal team to set new boundaries for a booming digital and virtual world, including using data analytics to determine how to do the most good,” adds Attorney Kristin Yoo, co-head of the Pro Bono Committee programs across the Law and Regulation Department at Allstate.

The pandemic has illustrated the great need of legal aid to work together as a network to address society inequities. As part of those efforts, CARPLS was very proud to continue services remotely over the hotline and work with the courts to think through the needs of self-represented litigants as the courts begin to reopen. CARPLS also continued seamless referrals to our legal aid partners through the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network, a statewide veteran’s and enlistees legal aid hotline for non-criminal legal issues. Now, CARPLS is broadening its services to serve as the hub for the historic cannabis expungement program, which will allow thousands of Illinoisans to begin life anew without cannabis arrests and convictions on their records.

This year, we invite everyone to “come to dinner” and learn about our vision and our honoree’s dedication to making legal access possible for everyone. We believe now is a great time to celebrate Susie and the Allstate legal department’s vision of extraordinary service, continuous development and vital communities. It sounds simple, but it means so much.

Please join us on Wednesday, October 1, at 7:30 p.m. for a live, free viewing of our virtual event and a conversation with Susie on how technology can change the face of legal aid access. Donations are suggested and sponsorship opportunities are still available. We hope that this year’s “dinner” will spur smaller get-togethers to celebrate our mission and vision that no one should face their legal issue on their own. CARPLS is here.

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