When Jones Day partner Carmen McLean found pro bono legal work she was passionate about at the Children’s Law Center, she became equally dedicated to drafting colleagues to take cases, too.

McLean handled her first CLC custody case as an associate in 2005. In 2006, she created a firm intranet for CLC work. “I saw how intranets were very helpful for case teams for our billable matters,” McLean said.

She’s since collected pleadings and other paperwork for the site and mentored firm colleagues on 26 CLC cases, which have helped secure permanent homes for more than 50 children. “I’ve been involved personally in eight cases but I mentor in some degree on almost all of them,” McLean said.

McLean became the first associate on CLC’s board in 2009. Before her firm promotion, she became the founding member and chair of CLC’s Advisory Board last year, which expanded her pro bono recruiting duties to other firms.

Her experiences recruiting Jones Day colleagues taught her to adjust her sales pitch. “I would appeal to different people in different ways, whether speaking to them about the needs of the child or the personal gains to be made in these cases, most [of which] allow for repeated in-court performance,” McLean said.

McLean’s commitment is extraordinary because she “built a community of lawyers to do the work,” said CLC executive director Judith Sandalow.

“She had the idea that it would go beyond her, but also did the hard work to make it a reality,” Sandalow said. — Sheri Qualters