Aleksandra “Sasha” Phillips, a Pittsburgh-based Reed Smith associate who litigates commercial cases, always carries her sketchbook, pencils or paint in her briefcase or suitcase. Phillips, 42, never knows when it might help.

Last year, in a pro bono case, she represented a college student, Alina Sheykhet, in seeking a permanent restraining order against Sheykhet’s ex-boyfriend. Within days of a court proceeding in the matter, the ex-boyfriend killed Sheykhet.