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April 24, 2017

An Evolving Partnership to Advance Civil Rights

“Kayla,” a mother of three holding Housing Choice Vouchers, sought to move her family into a safer neighborhood. Although she was initially welcomed by a landlord to visit the unit, once he discovered that she held federal housing vouchers, he was no longer interested. The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, one of the many […]

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April 24, 2017

Why Taking Action Matters

Ever wonder what happens when we ask you to take action and contact Congress? This New Yorker article gives a great overview of why taking action matters, what is most effective, and who is answering your call. Quick summary: personalized constituent-based communication is key!

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April 20, 2017

Help Plan Minor Guardianships

Looking for a way to help immigrant families? On Saturday, May 6th from 11-3pm at the Mexican Consulate you can get trained and immediately provide assistance that day for families looking to plan for minor guardianships in the event of deportation. Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) will provide the training, no prior experience is necessary, and Spanish-language interpreters can be provided if needed. Learn more or sign up.

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April 18, 2017

“They can help you right next to the Starbucks…”

“I am writing this letter today to praise one of your employees…” begins a letter thanking CARPLS for excellent legal advice at the Municipal Court Advice Desk and highlighting the especially kind and supportive service received from an Illinois JusticeCorps member as part of the process. This court patron’s letter highlights the unique and important services being provided in The Circuit Court of Cook County Resource Center for People without Lawyers in the concourse level of the Daley Center, which indeed is right next to the Starbucks there.

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April 4, 2017

Help an Outstanding Attorney Get Some Well-Deserved Recognition

The CBA and CBF are accepting nominations through May 8, 2017 for the Chicago legal community’s prestigious pro bono and public service awards. These awards celebrate exemplary members of the legal profession who have used their talents and resources to improve access to justice for the less fortunate in our community. The recipients will be honored at the CBA and CBF’s Pro Bono and Public Service Awards Luncheon on July 17.

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March 30, 2017

CBF Advocates in Springfield

The CBF traveled to Springfield the past two weeks to advocate for our two main state legislative priorities this year and to support the effort to restore state funding for the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation. We are happy to report that both legislative initiatives—a law simplifying the language governing evictions as well as a law to reform the system of court fees and fines—were voted out of their respective committees and are moving through the legislative process.

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March 23, 2017

The Right Way to Respond to the President’s Budget Proposal: Using Good Baseball Strategy

As you’ve surely heard by now, President Trump’s first budget blueprint released last week targets the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and 18 other agencies for elimination, and calls for significant cuts to a number of other federal agencies and programs that provide vital help for people in need. This is just the start of the budget process and represents both a challenge and a big opportunity for our legal community to respond. We are advocates by trade with a strong hand to play here. We need to call on those skills to remind our members of Congress of the critical role LSC, as the principal funder of civil legal aid at the national level, and other federal access to justice programs play in assuring fairness in the justice system and carrying out one of our nation’s most fundamental responsibilities.

In honor of it being less than two weeks from the Cubs opening game as defending World Series champs (and how cool is it to be able to say that!), I think it is fitting to use a baseball analogy to frame the issue and talk about key points to remember for our legal community’s response.

It’s only the top of the second inning, but the opposing pitcher has knocked our team off its game by calling unusual and often unpredictable pitches and challenging basic notions of sportsmanship. The good news: it is still very early in the game, we’ve got the meat of our batting order coming up, one of our best pitchers on the mound, and a deep and rested bench and bullpen to call upon. While that is all good, it’s going to take a strong game plan to turn those advantages into a win.

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March 23, 2017

Take Action: Advocate for LSC Funding

As the FY17 federal budget negotiations continue, we encourage you to reach out to your Senators and member of Congress to encourage them to oppose any efforts to reduce or eliminate funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), encouraging them to instead support a much-needed increase in this funding.

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March 23, 2017

JEP Shares Ideas, Lessons Learned at National Conference

Justice Entrepreneurs Project attorneys Magda Derisma, Sonny Thatch, Alyease Jones, and Cliff Helm joined JEP Director Trevor Clarke in Fort Worth, Texas, for the Fourth Annual Access to Justice through Legal Incubators and Nonprofit Law Firms conference. As in years past, the JEP played a prominent role at the three day conference, adding our voices to plenary sessions, concurrent sessions, and breakout groups. The JEP is the largest incubator in the country, responsible for the most incubator participants and alumni (objectively), and the most successful and innovative firms (subjective, yes, but we haven’t heard of any challengers). As such, the JEP has learned a lot, and has a lot to share, about meeting the needs of low and moderate income people through new models of legal service delivery.

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March 22, 2017

Improving Financial Stability One Tax Dispute at a Time

“Mark” was awarded a settlement from a wrongful death suit, but his legal problems did not end when he received the money. The IRS processed this money incorrectly, treating it as taxable income. At the point when Mark turned to the Center for Economic Progress (CEP) for assistance, he had an IRS balance exceeding $130,000 and a levy on his wages. A Taxpayer Advocate at CEP’s Tax Clinic was able to help him correct his account with the IRS. Because of CEP’s help, the IRS ended the wage levy, eliminated Mark’s balance, and refunded him over $16,000 for wrongfully levied proceeds.  Almost half of this money has gone to cover Mark’s student loan debt.

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