Pro bono spotlight: Trevor Parkes


Trevor Parkes is an associate in Jones Day’s Minneapolis office and service to others is a key part of his professional life. It started at the University of Michigan Law School’s legal clinic, where he assisted indigent clients with unemployment insurance benefits claims and represented veterans in discharge petition upgrades.

Now Parkes participates in several of his firm’s pro bono initiatives, including the Border Project. Of his experience serving on two asylum case teams, Parkes says, “Representing asylum seekers who have faced shocking violence at home is a very humbling experience. It’s rewarding to be able to help them share their stories in immigration court.”

utside of Jones Day, Parkes works with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) on compassionate release cases for inmates with compelling reasons for early release. Some of Parkes’s most meaningful moments as a lawyer have come from these cases, including one in which his client, a first-time offender, was released two days before Thanksgiving after serving 17 years of a 32-year prison sentence. Parkes feels gratified when he thinks of his client having Thanksgiving dinner with his family for the first time in nearly two decades.

Parkes also assists with the Constitutional Policing and Civil Justice Reform Initiative, a Jones Day effort launched after the murder of George Floyd. That initiative aims to facilitate cultural and systemic changes in policing practices around the country. Parkes is part of a team assisting the City of Minneapolis with investigations of the Minneapolis Police Department. He helps with document review and production, attends interviews and community listening sessions, and joins negotiations. Parkes, who has spent many pro bono hours on this project, hopes the work will contribute to a nationally renowned public safety system in Minneapolis.

Parkes advises newer lawyers searching for opportunities to work on legal matters that more senior lawyers typically perform, such as developing strategy or drafting and arguing motions, to get involved in pro bono work. “When you are early in your legal career, it can be easy to feel like you don’t know enough yet to make a big difference, but you probably know far more than you realize. Your skills and time are valuable and could be life-changing for someone in need.”