Every other Thursday, a half dozen Berger Schatz attorneys close their laptops early and head to a cool office space punctuated by whiteboards and high-tech robotics. There they wait for the arrival of their “Littles” from Muchin College Prep, a charter high school in the Loop.
The firm is part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago site-based mentoring program, pairing children facing adversity with professionals to build relationships and help prepare the kids for success, both personally and professionally. Since October 2018, the Berger Schatz attorneys and students have met regularly for group activities, homework help and the opportunity to share interests and challenges. Sessions take place at Accenture, also located at 161 N. Clark in Chicago.
The partnership was spearheaded by Berger Schatz’s Brian Blitz, who was searching for a way to make an impact in the communities where he and his colleagues live and work.
“While I knew that the Big Brothers Big Sisters program would be a great thing for our firm to do, I was blown away by the relationship I have developed with my Little and how incredibly meaningful this has been for me,” says Mr. Blitz. “The opportunity to be involved in someone’s life in a positive way has affected me and my colleagues on a far deeper level than we could have imagined.”
During each session, a Big Brothers Big Sisters staff person facilitates structured activities around topics like achieving academic success or positive social interactions, such as learning how to disagree respectfully. Littles and Bigs also have free time to hang out and get to know each other, building the foundation for a relationship that extends outside of the bi-weekly sessions.
“I talk and text regularly with my Little about her college plans and scholarship applications but also about new music and her two dogs,” says Berger Schatz Big Sister Saman Pakshir. “As divorce lawyers, we do a lot of work on behalf of children, but at a distance where they are detached from us, which is important so we can remain objective in advising our clients. The Big Brothers Big Sisters partnership has been wonderful because it has allowed us to have a real direct and visible impact on children’s lives, which is the reason a lot of us specialized in family law at the onset of our careers.”
In addition to Mr. Blitz and Ms. Pakshir, Berger Schatz attorneys Sharon Mobley, Katelyn Blanchard and Zora Ristanovic are also involved in the program.
The current Big Brothers Big Sisters mentorship runs through the end of the school year, but the relationships developed through the program typically extend well beyond.
“I plan to stay in touch with my Little through next year and beyond,” Ms. Pakshir said. “My Little has so much energy, and after being in the office all day it’s really refreshing to be with her.”