A Roadmap to Resources in the Courts

Throughout the thirty floors and 120 court and hearing rooms of the Richard J. Daley Center, you can frequently hear court patrons asking the same question over and over again, Where do I go? The building is big, the largest courthouse in the state, and it can seem overwhelming with its multiple elevator banks and unclear signage.  While many helpful resources are located in the building, its sheer size and scale can make it challenging to keep track of who they are and what they do. Court patrons in a need of a specific service may not be able to find it easily, and Illinois JusticeCorps volunteers can’t cover the entire building.

The CBF saw an opportunity to improve the navigation process within the building by working with the Circuit Court of Cook County Pro Se Advisory Committee to develop a referral sheet for people without lawyers. It was a simple idea a piece of paper listing the various help desks, self-help resources, accessibility services, and other services available in the building that could have a real impact. The first draft of the referral pad was released in July 2011 to positive response. Rather than each individual office and agency in the building creating and maintaining their own list of referrals, the new referral pad could be shared throughout the building with all the justice system stakeholders.

Since then, the referral sheet has gone through many updates and revisions, and additional referral sheets have been developed for the Sixth Municipal District Courthouse in Markham and the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse. As resources have come and gone, the referral sheet has been updated to ensure all information is accurate. Most recently, the Pro Se Advisory Committee collaborated with Illinois JusticeCorps volunteers to user test and redesign the referral sheet to include more graphics and less text, a change designed to make it a more user-friendly tool. Court patrons can now find the new referral sheet at various points in the Daley Center including the Information Desk, the Law Library, the Circuit Clerk’s office, and the Resource Center for People without Lawyers, as well as online on the CBF website, allowing them to more easily navigate the building and get the help they need.