The award celebrates the initiative and exceptional contributions of young lawyers to the profession, the organized bar, and the community. An attorney 36 years or younger who is a member of the Chicago Bar Association is selected based on his or her contributions to furthering the ideals of the legal profession. As recognized by the Foundation, Yingling’s drive and dedication to improving access to justice embody the spirit of what it means to be a lawyer and make him a fitting recipient of the 2022 award.
In addition to a busy practice, Yingling has dedicated an average of more than 750 hours each year to pro bono cases that advance justice, equity, and the rule of law. He has obtained landmark wins for LGBTQ+ rights, including court recognition of same-sex common-law marriages dating back decades and rulings invalidating laws that prevented transgender individuals from changing their names. Additionally, through his pro bono work, Yingling has protected voting rights and fought against gerrymandered political maps. Most recently, as part of a Reed Smith collaboration with the Brennan Center for Justice, he represented individuals and organizations before the Ohio Supreme Court in a successful challenge to the state’s gerrymandered redistricting plan.
In Chicago, Yingling has represented pro bono clients who were adjudicated not guilty by reason of insanity and required to spend years in state hospitals even after they regained their mental health and stability. In recent years, he obtained release orders for two of these clients, both of whom are now thriving in their lives outside of a state hospital.