Our Blog


May 25, 2017

Another Self-Inflicted Barrier to Access to Justice: The Rules Governing Lawyer Marketing and Advertising

Many thousands of Illinoisans who need or would benefit from legal assistance and can afford to pay something aren’t getting it. They often don’t recognize their problem as a legal one, and when they do, they too often don’t know where to go for quality legal help or whether it would be a cost-effective solution for them. At the same time, we have more lawyers than ever before, most of whom have capacity and interest in helping more paying clients. In economics, this is called a market failure, and our profession is compounding this failure by unnecessarily restraining market forces from fixing the problem.

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May 24, 2017

First Defense Legal Aid Helps Close a Key Gap in Access to Justice on the Criminal Side of the System

When someone gets arrested, the first 48 hours can be a critical time. During this period, police officers have access to any number of resources that detainees may not, including access to the State’s Attorney for legal counsel. Low-income detainees, on the other hand, rarely have legal representation at this point and often don’t understand all of their rights in what can be a very intimidating situation for them.

In Illinois, people who are arrested and need legal counsel but cannot afford it have to wait until a hearing from a judge to have a public defender appointed for them. The problem, however, is that this appointment can take 48-72 hours to take place and happens usually after the arrestee has been formally charged. When looking at the numbers, this lack of legal help for detainees is striking. In 2016, only 1% of almost 87,000 people arrested and in the custody of the Chicago Police Department had access to an attorney.

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May 23, 2017

Thank you Kelly!

This month marked a bittersweet occasion at the CBF as Kelly Tautges, our Director of Pro Bono and Court Advocacy since 2008, followed her heart back to her home state of Minnesota and took on a new role there as Pro Bono Counsel and Director of Pro Bono and Community Service for the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels LLP.

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May 22, 2017

Second Chance Expungement Summit

Interested in helping someone get a fresh start? The Cook County Second Chance Expungement Summit will be held on Saturday, June 10. Volunteer attorneys are needed to review the criminal records of attendees, determine whether they qualify for adult expungement or sealing, and assist with the filing of court forms. A required training session for volunteer attorneys will be held on May 31, from 3pm-6pm at 69 W. Washington.

Training is provided by Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic and the Cook County Public Defender’s Office. Attorneys may earn up to 2.5 General MCLE credits.

The Second Chance Expungement Summit will be held on Saturday, June 10 at Unity Junior High School, 2115 S. 54th Avenue in Cicero. Learn more/Register

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May 19, 2017

CBF Joins Colleagues from Throughout the Country to Advocate for Access to Justice

The CBF once again co-anchored the Illinois team at the annual ABA Day in Washington last month. Working with our colleagues at the CBA, ISBA and ABA and a number of dedicated volunteers, our Illinois team once again met with the entire Illinois Congressional delegation.

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May 18, 2017

Take Action: Support LSC Funding

As the FY18 federal budget process begins, we encourage you to reach out to your Senators and member of Congress and thank them for their continued support for the Legal Services Corporation, encouraging them to oppose any attempts to reduce or eliminate funding for LSC and instead support a much-needed increase in this funding.

Take Action

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May 17, 2017

JEP Welcomes New Cohort of Participants

On May 8, the Justice Entrepreneurs Project welcomed a new cohort of participants into the incubator program. They are the ninth class of lawyers to join the JEP network, which now includes over 50 solo and small law firms with lawyers who are currently participating in or have completed the JEP program. We are excited to help these seven attorneys build innovative, affordable, and accessible law practices that meet the needs of low and moderate income people in and around Chicago. The participant attorneys, for their part, are eager to begin their pro bono residencies at CBF-supported legal aid organizations.

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May 16, 2017

Free Employment Law Help for Nonprofits

The Law Project of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, DLA Piper, and Corporate Pro Bono are offering a free employment law clinic for nonprofit organizations on Thursday, July 13, 9:45 am to 12:30 pm.

Nonprofits will meet with a team of attorneys who will draft or revise the organization’s vacation and leave policies based on recent Cook County law changes, and will also draft a template separation agreement, providing electronic documents for your organization at the end of the clinic. Nonprofits with 501c3 status that operate in Cook County (including Chicago), and that have employees, are encouraged to complete the intake form. Please email espanglerraz@thelawproject.org with any questions about the clinic.

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May 2, 2017

4th Annual Passport to Chicago a Success

On Friday, April 28, more than 200 guests came together for the 4th Annual Passport to Chicago in support of the CBF. At Kendall College, guests enjoyed dishes representing different Chicago neighborhoods, conceived and prepared by members of the Kendall College Competition Club. The creations were paired with a selection of local beers and regional wines, with special tastings provided by Chicago’s Midwest Wine Selections.

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April 25, 2017

Why Do We Maintain an Artificial Barrier to Innovation and Access to Justice?

As I read the news a couple of weeks ago that the Ford Foundation became the latest institution to commit to impact investing (i.e., investing for social impact as well as financial return), it got me thinking about the many exciting possibilities those types of investments could create for access to justice. And then I quickly remembered that this is largely off limits, because our profession clings to outmoded and artificially limiting rules that prevent lawyers from sharing ownership or profits with outside investors. We have enough challenges in our quest to bridge the gulf in access to legal assistance without having to do it with one hand tied behind our collective back, and it is well past time to remove this barrier.

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