Gary H. Palm is a graduate of Wittenberg University and the Law School. During his time as a student at the Law School, Palm volunteered on a pro bono basis in the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic and was instrumental in organizing the first trial practice course. Palm graduated in 1967 and was elected to the Order of the Coif.
He practiced law for three years at Schiff, Hardin and Waite, specializing in convertible subordinated debenture transactions. He also worked extensively with other attorneys at Schiff Hardin and several other law firms in pro bono activities on the near north area of Chicago and served on the Board of the Neighborhood Legal Assistance Center.
In 1970, Palm returned to the Law School to become Assistant Professor of Law and Director of the Law School’s Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. In 1972, the attorneys in the Clinic decided to specialize and include impact litigation and community-based advocacy for indigent persons with housing, employment discrimination, welfare, family, and consumer problems. The clinical teachers also transformed the Clinic from a legal services office into a clinical education program and offered one of the first trial practice programs taught through trying actual cases in courts under the Illinois student Practice Rule.
Through the years, Palm has practiced employment discrimination law for plaintiffs and engaged in welfare-to-work advocacy for clients seeking job training benefits and child support enforcement. At the Law School, he taught Trial Practice, Section 1983 Civil Rights Litigation and Public Interest Practice. Palm and his students won many important cases in the federal and state courts including Logan v. Zimmerman Brush Co., in which the United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, reversed the Illinois Supreme Court on due process grounds with four judges concurring on Equal Protection grounds.
In addition, in the late 1970’s, Palm was active in the Key Biscayne Group, a loose, informal organization of clinical teachers from across the country which worked to devise programmatic and curricular changes to better prepare students to practice law competently and learn how to do important pro bono legal work upon graduation. Palm also served for seven years as the first clinical teacher on the ABA Accreditation Committee and then six years on the Council of the ABA’s Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which together accredit all American law schools so that their graduates can sit for the Bar in the 50 states.