Samira Nazem was stressed. She had worked as a summer associate in legacy Lovell’s Chicago office and was set to join the firm after law school, but when the firm closed the office in 2010, in the midst of the Great Recession, her plans went up in smoke and she was forced to chart a new career path.

With the help of a stipend from the firm, Nazem spent a year on an externship at a legal aid organization and never looked back. She’s now the pro bono director at the Chicago Bar Foundation and says having the rug pulled out from under her was the best thing that could have happened, in retrospect.

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