Our Issues

The CBF, in partnership with the CBA, centers its current legislative and policy advocacy efforts on the following key issues:

Court Funding
Federal Courts

Full funding of the judiciary is a fundamental prerequisite of a functioning democracy and a critical component of access to justice. The CBF advocates for legislation that provides the judiciary with enough money to carry out its essential functions under the Constitution.

BOBservation: Justice as a Discretionary Expense—Where Did We Lose Our Way and How Can We Find Our Way Back?

Local Courts

At the local level, the CBF focuses on Cook County, which is the primary funder of the circuit courts. In particular, the CBF focuses on funding and other initiatives involving access to the courts, such as legal advice desks. These initiatives make the courts more user friendly and accessible to all, particularly those coming to court without lawyers.

Funding for Legal Services
Legal Services Corporation (LSC)

LSC  is the entity through which federal funding for legal aid flows. In Illinois, three legal aid organizations receive LSC funds: Legal Aid Chicago, Prairie State Legal Services, and Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation. Unfortunately, LSC funding is near an all-time low at a time when a record number of vulnerable and disadvantaged Americans are in need of free legal services. The CBF advocates for legislation that increases LSC funding.

Read the fact sheet on this important issue.

Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF)

The IEJF was created by the Illinois Equal Justice Act and is a statewide foundation that distributes funds for legal information centers, regional legal services hotlines, alternate dispute resolution centers, self help desks and legal aid providers. IEJF funding is a core responsibility of the State and is needed to sustain important legal aid services in Illinois. However, IEJF funding is near an all-time low at the same time that a record number of vulnerable and disadvantaged Illinoisans are in need of legal services. The CBF advocates for legislation that increases IEJF funding.

Read the fact sheet on this important issue.

Court Reform and Simplification
Court Fees and Fines Reform Legislation

The CBF is part of a coalition of advocates working with legislators on a multi-year effort to reform Illinois’ byzantine system of court fees and fines in order to address barriers to access to justice associated with the fees and other court costs in civil, criminal, and traffic proceedings. You can read more about some of the key tenets of the legislation in the CBF’s fact sheet and in the recommendations of the Statutory Court Fee Task Force report released in 2016 with broad bipartisan support from all levels of government.

Retiring “Ad Damnum” and Other Unnecessary Latin & Legalese

The CBF is continuing efforts to simplify archaic and confusing statutory language with a technical amendment to replace “prayer for relief,” “ad damnum,” and other unnecessary Latin & legalese in the Code of Civil Procedure with plain language alternatives.

Read the fact sheet on this important issue.

Illinois Plain Language Task Force

The CBF spearheaded legislation that restarted, and is now working to reinvigorate, the Illinois Plain Language Task Force, intended to provide guidance to assist all three branches of Illinois government in their commitment to plain language reform efforts.

Read the fact sheet on this important issue.

Immigration Reform

Our broken immigration system creates a number of unique access to justice issues. The CBF advocates for legislation that takes a comprehensive approach to fixing our nation’s broken immigration system and restoring the rule of law, including through passage of a clean DREAM Act.

Read the fact sheet on this important issue and a recent CBA Record article laying out the case for comprehensive reform.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Student Debt Reform

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF), created by Congress in 2007, provides critical support for our nation’s public sector by offering partial relief from often crushing educational debt for public service employees who make long-term commitments to working in the sector. Under PSLF, those who make ten years of payments on their student loans while employed full-time in public service jobs are eligible to have their remaining balance forgiven.

There are active proposals to either eliminate or limit PSLF going forward. This important program should be preserved for the longer-term, and should only be limited if other educational debt reforms are put in place.

Read the fact sheet on this important issue, as well as the comments submitted by the CBF to the Senate HELP committee as they consider student debt reform and the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.