The Illinois State Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity is presenting its 2013 Community Leadership Award to the Chicago law firm Jenner & Block, recognizing the firm’s work in the ACLU and Lambda Legal case, Fields v. Smith.  The case challenged a Wisconsin law prohibiting prison doctors from deciding the best course of treatment for transgender people by denying them access to either hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery while in state custody.  The ACLU and Lambda Legal sued on behalf of inmates incarcerated for nonviolent offenses.  Our clients had been on hormone therapy for years.

Medical experts agree that blocking access to hormone treatment after someone has been on the treatment is especially dangerous and could cause life-threatening damage. The ACLU and Lambda Legal prevailed in the Seventh Circuit where the Wisconsin law was declared unconstitutional.

In the Seventh Circuit, Jenner & Block authored a critical amicus brief, filed on behalf of several medical groups, including the American Medical Association.  The amicus brief made a clear and persuasive argument that the Wisconsin law was out of step with the prevailing medical and mental health research standards of care in the field.  This medical and mental health care research even was mentioned by the appellate panel at oral argument.

The ISBA Award specifically recognizes Jenner & Block partners David M. Kroeger and Barry Levenstam, along with associates D. Matthew Feldhaus and Kyle A. Palazzolo, a one-time ACLU of Illinois intern.

We congratulate Jenner & Block on this important award.