Late nights at the Library. Football games at Memorial Stadium. Frisbee on the Quad. After four or more years on campus, many alumni have fond memories of their time at the University of Illinois. That’s why, when the members of the Management Committee at Much Shelist were discussing giving back to their alma mater, there was little debate at the Chicago-based law firm.
“We all value our experience at Illinois-especially as graduates of the College of Business,” said Don Hershman’79. “We want to help give others the same opportunity to prepare themselves for success in the challenging world of business.”
Much Shelist has traditionally maintained a strong community focus through volunteer efforts, charitable contributions, and pro bono legal work-a commitment to service that extends from the firm’s leadership to all of its attorneys and staff. During a Management Committee meeting in the summer of 2005, Hershman suggested that the University-and the College of Business, in particular-would be an ideal recipient of the firm’s support. The other members of the committee, all Illinois grads, agreed.
David Brown ’82 is the Chair of the Management Committee. “Community service is a big part of the culture at Much Shelist,” said Brown. “We are also a very business-oriented law firm, with many attorneys who are CPAs, business owners, and entrepreneurs themselves. That’s one reason a contribution to the U of I made so much sense.”
The other Illinois alumni on the Much Shelist Management Committee include Neal Goldstein ’84, Mitchell Roth ’89 JD ’92, and Steve Schwartz ’74. Several of these firm leaders graduated with honors or high honors, and Schwartz received the Bronze Tablet award. But the ties with the University don’t stop there. Of the firm’s approximately 90 attorneys, 29 received one or more degrees from Illinois, including 25 bachelor’s degrees and eight JDs.
Led by the Illinois alumni on the Management Committee, the firm has made an initial commitment of $25,000 over two years to fund the Much Shelist Scholarships, which will be awarded annually to two College of Business students.
This year’s recipients, John Lohr and Muffadal Saylawala, were selected from the Business Honors Program, a relatively new program that helps undergraduates develop skills to better prepare them both for the work world and for service to the community. “We were very impressed with the goals of the Business Honors Program,” said Schwartz, “and we are happy to be supporting the University’s efforts to elevate the College of Business to an even greater level of excellence.”
According to Roth, the firm’s contribution goes beyond money, because
Much Shelist will make a mentoring commitment to the scholarship recipients that may include undergraduate internships or opportunities for job shadowing.
“We plan to help the scholarship recipients begin the invaluable process of networking within the Illinois business community,” he explained. “Over the years, each of us has built a broad network of contacts, many of whom are people we met at the University. We see great value in helping create the same experience-and future opportunities-for current students.”
While each of the five alumni at Much Shelist went on to attend law school and establish a successful legal practice, they credit their business degrees from Illinois for laying the foundation that today allows them to lead a successful law firm and serve as business advisors to their clients.
“Thanks, in part, to our education at the U of I, we are five accomplished attorneys who use their business acumen in a law firm setting every day,” said Goldstein. “If we can give something back to afford a few students the same opportunities we had, we’re glad to do it.”