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Your pro bono work is worth recognizing.

Smokeball’s prestigious Beacon Award recognizes legal professionals making significant impacts on their clients and communities.

Beacon Award winners will be announced on July 15, 2024!

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Happy Woman Celebrates Smokeball Beacon Award
Hand Grabs Smokeball Beacon Award

Beacon Award Prizes

  • One (1) Grand Prize Winner: a $2,500 check and a $2,500 donation to the civil legal service provider of their choosing
  • One (1) People’s Choice Winner: one year of personalized coffee from Mistobox and a personalized Yeti tumbler
  • Five (5) nominees: five random submissions will receive a prize pack filled with Smokeball merch and more!

All finalists and winners will receive an engraved Beacon Award statue and will be featured on Smokeball’s website and social media.

2023 Smokeball Beacon Award Prizes

Judging Criteria

We’re excited to hear why you’re a community hero. Our judges will review nominations with the following criteria in mind:

  • How does this person’s legal work significantly impact their clients and community?
  • How much time was devoted to the matter(s)?
  • How big is the impact?
Smokeball Beacon Award Judging Criteria

Finalists are in the running for the Grand Prize Award, as well as the People's Choice Award decided by the public. Support their work by voting!

Finalists are in the running for the Grand Prize Award, as well as the People's Choice Award decided by the public. Support their work by voting!

Last Year’s Grand Prize Winner

2023 Smokeball Beacon Winner Chlece Walker-Neal-Murray

Chlece Walker-Neal-Murray

Chicago Advocate Legal, NFP

Chlece is the Executive Director of Chicago Advocate Legal, NFP (CAL), where she collaborates with community organizations to provide low-cost and free legal services for family law matters in underserved communities. In 2017, she launched the Preventive Law Initiative (PLI) to address root issues that lead to court litigation. PLI promotes conflict resolution techniques and legal knowledge, aiming to minimize negative interactions within Cook County's family court system. The initiative has already assisted over 300 individuals through workshops and educational sessions, with a focus on underserved communities and youth. Chlece also volunteers as an attorney with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services and supervises legal internships for high school, college, and graduate students, inspiring others to join PLI workshops and pro bono efforts.

"Being awarded the inaugural Smokeball Beacon Award for pro bono work is a humbling honor. I'm filled with gratitude towards Smokeball for their support over the past eight years."

Chlece Walker-Neal-Murray

Get Involved

Inspired by Smokeball’s community heroes? If you’re looking to give back to your community, here are some ways legal professionals can help bring justice and support to those who need it most.

Find a pro bono program

Connect with your local Bar, a legal aid society, or a legal clinic to offer your time and expertise. Pro Bono Net, American Bar Association, and National Legal Aid & Defender Association all have great resources for those seeking pro bono opportunities. Volunteering does not have to be time-intensive; many bars offer phone clinics where attorneys donate just an hour of their time to field basic questions about their area of law.

Partner with Educational Institutions

Collaborate with law schools to support pro bono initiatives and legal clinics run by students and professors. Or educate high school students about their legal rights and responsibilities through outreach programs like ACS’s Constitution in the Classroom.

Offer your mentorship and training

Provide guidance and one-on-one training to less established lawyers who are looking to make a difference through their legal work.

Advocate for Policy Change

Use your legal expertise to advocate for changes in laws and policies that will benefit marginalized communities.

Judging Panel

Jessica Bednarz

Jessica
Bednarz

(she/her)

Director of Legal Services & the Profession, Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System

Chlece Walker-Neal-Murray

Chlece Walker-
Neal-Murray

(she/her)

Executive Director/Supervising Attorney, Chicago Advocate Legal

Ruchie Chadha

Ruchie
Chadha

(she/her)

President,
Smokeball US

Javier Rodriguez-Martin

Javier
Rodriguez-Martin

(he/him)

Director of Client Training,
Smokeball US

Beacon Award FAQs

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Why the Beacon Award?

Community is what drives us at Smokeball. Many of our clients advocate for those in their community who face inequality, discrimination, poverty, or who are otherwise struggling –often without expecting recognition for their pro bono work. But we believe acts of kindness are worth recognizing. This community hero award acknowledges exceptional pro bono work by Smokeball clients. While only a few will win awards, each inspires us and guides others to this vital work.

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What are the contest rules?

  • Nominator accepts these Official Rules, as listed below, by submitting a Nomination.
  • No purchase is necessary to win this Contest. Nominee must be a current Smokeball user to be eligible. The odds of winning a Prize in this Contest shall depend upon the number of Nominations received.
  • Eligible Nominees must both be eighteen (18) years of age or older and legally reside in the United States.
  • By entering the Contest, Nominator warrants and represents to have received the Nominee’s permission and consent to nominate them and use them in their Nomination submission.
  • Nominator shall provide Smokeball with Nominee’s contact information and photo if requested by Smokeball, or Nominee may be ineligible win and/or claim any Prizes from Contest. Such contact information is to help ensure Nominee is eligible to win and/or claim Prize if selected as a Winner. Smokeball has the absolute and irrevocable right to notify the Nominee of the name of the Nominator who nominated them and may do so at any time.
  • By submitting a Nomination to Smokeball, each Nominator authorizes Smokeball to post such Submission (all or in part), their name, their law firm/organization’s name, and Nominee’s name, and/or law firm/organization.
  • Submission of Nomination, and/or acceptance of a prize in this Contest constitutes the Nominator’s, and/or, Winner's permission for Smokeball and/or their respective designee(s) to use Nominator’s, and/or, Winner's name, photograph, image (still or video), likeness, voice, audio, biographical information, statements, testimonial, submission (and/or any edited portion thereof), address (city and state), prize information, Nomination, and any remarks about the Prize or being nominated in this Contest, in whole or in part marketing, advertising, and/or publicity purposes worldwide and in all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, without further compensation or authorization (except where prohibited by law) and every Nominator, and each Winner agrees to release Smokeball respective designees from all claims arising out of the use contained herein.
  • One or more qualified judges selected by Smokeball will review all eligible Nominations received during the Contest Period and select a group of finalists to be announced before the Grand Prize Winner. These finalists will be eligible for the People’s Choice voting period wherein the winner will be decided by public vote. Anyone is eligible to vote and need not be a Smokeball user. Voters can vote once through the Smokeball website during the People’s Choice Voting period (June 24 – July 5, 2024) for one People’s Choice winner.
  • Additionally, the Smokeball Beacon judging panel will select one Grand Prize Winner, based on the following judging criteria: How the nominee’s legal work has significantly impact their clients and community; how much time was devoted to the matters; and how big of an impact was made through the legal work.
  • All nomination types will be judged equally. The decision of the Judge(s) is final and binding. Smokeball employees, former and current, are ineligible to win Contest. The selection and review process may occur on a rolling basis as Nominees are received. Smokeball reserves the right to extend the Contest Entry Period if the Contest does not receive a sufficient number of eligible and qualified Nominations, as determined by Smokeball in their sole discretion. Winners may be required as a condition of continued eligibility to sign a Publicity Release within one day of such notification of winning. Noncompliance within this time period may result in disqualification. If the potential Prize Winner cannot be reached or if is found ineligible, if it cannot or does not comply with the foregoing requirements and these Official Rules, if its prize or prize notification is returned as undeliverable, or if it does not satisfactorily execute all necessary document, potential Winners will be disqualified.
  • By entering this Contest, Nominators agree to indemnify and hold harmless Smokeball and its employees from and against any claim by any persons relating to the content of the Nomination submitted by the Nominator.
  • Prizes: (1) $2,500 check; (1) $2,500 donation to the civil legal service provider of the Grand Prize Winner’s choosing; (1) 1 year of personalized coffee from Mistobox and a Yeti tumbler; (5) Smokeball prize packs. Additionally, every finalist and winner will receive a custom Beacon Award statue and representation on Smokeball’s website.
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What are the key competition dates?

Nominations due: June 3, 2024 at midnight CT
Finalists announced for People’s Choice Voting: June 24, 2024
Winners announced: July 15, 2024
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Can I nominate someone outside of the United States?

The Beacon award is reserved for Smokeball’s community of clients working in the United States. While we wish we could recognize every firm making a difference in its community, we thank every legal professional who's changing lives and inspiring others to do the same.