The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) recognizes Jennifer Estremera of McKool Smith as our Volunteer of the Month for her outstanding work with our Federal Pro Bono Project. With dedicated volunteers like Estremera, the project provides counsel in federal civil cases.
McKool has taken on three pro bono cases in the last six months, showing a unique commitment to civil rights cases.
In Estremera’s first case for the project, she provided full-scope representation for an individual who was blinded by correctional officers’ excessive use of pepper spray while incarcerated. After a settlement conference did not resolve the matter, Estremera turned to discovery, reopened after denial of defendants’ motion for summary judgment, and prepared for trial. Her firm has since taken on two more civil rights cases, providing both full-scope representation and limited-scope representation at a settlement conference.
Estremera’s current pro bono client could not afford counsel but has a far greater chance for a fair outcome with assistance from her and her colleagues. She notes, “The legal system gives significant protections to individuals, but those protections often cannot be realized without effective representation. It’s rewarding to be able to leverage the resources of a large law firm to help represent individuals who may not have equal access to quality representation.”
Estremera grew up in a small Mennonite community in Kansas, and began considering the law due to a fortuitous friendship: “I never dreamed about having a career; at the most, I thought I might work as a secretary for a local business. One day this amazing woman – an attorney – moved to my hometown. She became my friend and mentor, and changed the way I saw the world and thought about my future.” Estremera has paid this goodwill forward throughout her career, seeking out pro bono opportunities and supporting new lawyers with their pro bono efforts.