Our Blog


May 18, 2018

CBF Featured in Social Innovations Journal

The CBF is proud to be featured in the Social Innovations Journal’s most recent edition, Chicago’s Social Innovations, Social Enterprises, and Public Private Partnerships. We are humbled to be included among the many other innovative projects and programs, which together demonstrate how Chicago is a leading force in the international social impact and social policy movement.

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May 9, 2018

New JEP Attorneys Begin Program, Pro Bono Residencies

The CBF’s Justice Entrepreneurs Project is excited to welcome the eleventh cohort of innovative and entrepreneurial attorneys into its growing network. Over the next eighteen months, these eight outstanding attorneys will build law practices focused on meeting the needs of the underserved middle market for legal services—a client base that generally earns too much income […]

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April 25, 2018

A Banned Words List for Access to Justice

Over the past couple of weeks, I have heard a heavier than usual dose of words and phrases that are common in the access to justice world but really need to go. As a result, this month I am taking a break from pontificating about the future to advocate for the start of a banned words list for our legal profession. Think of it like spring cleaning now that we are finally seeing spring around here.

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April 24, 2018

CBF Goes to Washington: Legal Aid Funding, Student Debt and Immigration

Leaders from the CBF again traveled to Washington D.C. earlier this month along with representatives from the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) and American Bar Association as part of the ABA’s annual ABA Day in Washington. Each year, Congress considers legislation and budget issues that impact access to justice, the court system, and the legal profession. That’s why it is vital that leaders in our legal community in Chicago, and elsewhere in Illinois, engage with our members of Congress on important issues impacting access to justice for Illinois residents.

This year we focused our efforts on three important access to justice issues: funding for the Legal Services Corporation, maintaining the Public Service Loan Forgiveness and income-based forgiveness programs as part of broader student debt reforms, and continuation of two proven programs recently suspended by the Department of Justice: legal orientation programs (LOP) for immigrants in detention and help desks in the immigration court in Chicago and elsewhere in the country.

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April 20, 2018

The Clock Has Run Out

The Time’s Up campaign, founded at the start of this year, has already become a massive force for change. Advanced by women in the entertainment industry, the movement is dedicated to fighting sexual harassment and gender inequality for women everywhere. Over 300 well-known women who work in film, television and theater and beyond have signed an open letter and shared the issue with their fans and followers.

Away from the glitz and glamour of the red carpet, one prominent lawyer we know well here in Chicago was a crucial leader in the effort and helped organize the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund: Tina Tchen.

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April 6, 2018

5th Annual Passport to Chicago a Success

On Wednesday, April 4, nearly 200 guests came together for the 5th Annual Passport to Chicago event in support of the Chicago Bar Foundation. Set at Kendall College with a picturesque view of the city’s skyline, guests enjoyed dishes representing different Chicago neighborhoods, conceived and prepared by members of the Kendall College Competition Club.

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March 29, 2018

A Fool for a Client?

“A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Most of us have heard that old adage, and while we’ve thankfully come a long way from those days when the assumption was the lawyer would be a “him,” we’ve also reached a point where advances in technology and the growing gap in access to free and affordable legal services require us to revisit the underlying premise.

When do we really need a lawyer to get a just result? Or put another way, when are we fools to try to go it alone (assuming we even have a choice)? Not to be overdramatic, but there is not a more critical question today for access to justice and the future of our profession.

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March 27, 2018

Educational Debt, Public Service Loan Forgiveness on the Agenda for Congress this Spring

As the costs of higher education and the resulting explosion of debt to finance it increasingly weigh on newer lawyers pursuing legal aid, public service and other socially conscious careers in law, it has created whole new challenges for access to justice. The federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and several income-based repayment (IBR) programs for federally backed student loans have made these legal careers viable for thousands of dedicated lawyers who otherwise would have to take a different path due to the financial challenges.

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March 14, 2018

Mental Health Pro Bono Program

Each year, nearly one in five Americans will experience a mental health concern and countless more will watch a loved one struggle with mental illness. In Cook County alone, 200,000 residents will experience a severe mental health episode each year. When mental illness strikes, friends and family often struggle to understand the available medical, legal, and supportive services; how they intersect; and how they can be accessed on behalf of a loved one.

The Mental Health Pro Bono Pilot Program will provide much-needed assistance to families struggling to get legal help for their loves ones during and after a severe mental health episode. As a pro bono volunteer, you will work directly with families, offering them vitally important information about their legal options ranging from guardianship to involuntary inpatient commitment.

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February 23, 2018

Top Ten Reasons the Billable Hour Needs to Go

The billable hour continues to be a significant and self-inflicted barrier to access to justice. Whatever its merits may be in the corporate market, for low and moderate-income individuals and small businesses the billable hour makes legal services less affordable and accessible because it lacks transparency and certainty and misaligns incentives for efficiency, innovation, and value.

Albert Einstein said “If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend the first 55 minutes defining the problem and 5 minutes finding the solution.” Here are my top 10 reasons the billable hour is a problem for access to justice.

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