The Chicago Bar Foundation honored Patricia with the 2018 Thomas H. Morsch Public Service Award at its July 12 Pro Bono & Public Service Awards luncheon. We are grateful to the bar foundation for recognizing our respected legal director.
Patricia Nix-Hodes, Director of the Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH), has spent her 26-year legal career fighting for the rights of homeless people. Whether through individual advocacy, impact litigation, or shaping public policy, Patricia’s work has had a positive and often life-changing impact on tens of thousands of people across Illinois.
In her 20-year tenure at CCH, Patricia has litigated many landmark cases, including the influential Salazar v. Edwards class action lawsuit against the Chicago Public
Schools. Today, Patricia leads a team of six attorneys actively enforcing the consent decree, which established critical rights for homeless students and meaningful standards for CPS and has resulted in over 200,000 homeless students receiving specialized services and resources to enable them succeed in school. In 2015, she led a team of CCH and pro bono attorneys in negotiating a new policy with the City of Chicago to protect the personal property and belongings of people living on the streets. In addition to her systemic work, Patricia has individually represented hundreds of homeless families, students, and unaccompanied youth and adults. She advocates for basic civil and human rights, which include access to school, shelter, housing, employment, and the simple right to be in a public space.
Patricia is always willing take chances and push boundaries to advance social justice and improve access to legal aid for people who are homeless. Her skill and leadership as an attorney are matched by her compassion and dedication to her clients and to the attorneys and staff working with her. A former client states, “Knowing that you can stand up for yourself is empowering, but not having to fight those battles alone gives you strength. Patricia helped ensure that we never had to fight alone.” Patricia’s unwavering dedication to justice for all represents the legal profession at its best. The CBF is proud to honor her with the Morsch Award.
About the Thomas H. Morsch Award
Each year, the CBF awards the Thomas H. Morsch Award, the premier public recognition for long-time legal aid and public interest law attorneys in our community. The award, which includes a cash prize generously provided by the Morsch family, was established to recognize and reward exemplary lawyers who choose public service work as a career. The cash gift celebrates the award recipients’ accomplishments and serves to honor the financial sacrifices they have made by choosing legal aid as their life’s work.
The award is named after Thomas H. Morsch, a former partner at Sidley Austin, and a leader in the Chicago legal community who has championed the cause of public interest law for more than 40 years. Mr. Morsch headed Sidley Austin’s commercial litigation department from 1973-1995, was a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and supervised the firm’s Committee on Pro Bono and Public Interest Law for 20 years. Mr. Morsch was the first Director of the Small Business Opportunity Center at Northwestern University School of Law, now known as The Donald Pritzker Entrepreneurship Law Center. He is currently the Center’s Emeritus Director. Mr. Morsch has also served as president of The Chicago Bar Foundation and in leadership positions on the boards of numerous other charitable and legal organizations in the Chicago area.