On June 22, 2015, the Benton Foundation Board of Directors elected Leonard J. Schrager as the Foundation’s new chairman, succeeding founder Charles Benton who died earlier this year. Schrager has been a Benton Foundation trustee since its inception in 1981.
“I am honored that the Benton Foundation Board of Directors has selected me to oversee the legacy of my great friend, Charles Benton,” said Schrager. “I look forward to furthering Charles’ vision that media and telecommunications serve the public interest and enhance our democracy.”
Schrager has been a leader in the Chicago legal community for more than 30 years. He is a founder and former senior managing partner in the Chicago law firm of Sachnoff, Schrager, Jones, Weaver and Rubenstein, Ltd., now known as Reed Smith LLP. He has served as a hearing panel member for the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, and most recently has chaired the Judicial Performance Commission of Cook County, evaluating judges running for retention. Schrager was a Professor and Dean at Chicago’s John Marshall Law School and is now Dean Emeritus.
Throughout his career, Schrager has served the legal community and received many awards for promoting public interest law, and the values of pro-bono and public service in the legal profession. He is a past president of the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Foundation, and the Center for Conflict Resolution, a past board member of the Lawyer’s Trust Fund, and has served on many other panels, commissions and committees, including the Special Commission to Study the Administration of Justice in the aftermath of the federal Greylord investigation. In 2011, he received the Ralph A. Gabric Lifetime Achievement Award from Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS). The honor was presented to Schrager for his outstanding legal career and his many contributions to public interest law, legal education and mediation.
The Chicago Bar Foundation presents annually the Leonard Jay Schrager Award of Excellence, which recognizes exemplary attorneys in academia who have made significant and lasting contributions to improving access to justice for people who are challenged by poverty, abuse and discrimination.
Benton Executive Director Adrianne B. Furniss welcomed Schrager’s new role with the Foundation. “Leonard’s long history with the Foundation and the Benton family makes him the ideal successor to my father, Charles. He has been a staunch supporter of the Foundation’s mission and agenda throughout his 34 years of service as Trustee.”