What Can We Help You With Today?

CBF Report September 2014

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What Can We Help You With Today?

By Kelly Tautges | CBF Director of Pro Bono & Court Advocacy

The Circuirt Court Resource Center gets ready to begin the day and soon will be packed with people.

The CARPLS intake coordinator for the Municipal Court Advice Desk gets ready for another busy day at the Circuit Court Resource Center.

This is the phrase heard over and over in the concourse level of the Daley Center, as court patrons visit the new Circuit Court of Cook County Resource Center for People Without Lawyers. The Center is a major milestone in the longer-term effort to make the court system more user-friendly and accessible for people without lawyers, a key goal of both the CBF and the Circuit Court.

Fully operational as of April 2014, the Center includes three major legal advice desks the Municipal Court Advice Desk, the Chancery Court Advice Desk, and the Domestic Relations Advice Desk. These three desks, which are managed and staffed by lawyers from CARPLS and the Chicago Legal Clinic (CLC), moved from several locations in the courthouse and collectively now help approximately 100 clients each day in the Center.

A Network of Resources
The new Center is just one part of a larger array of resources available to help people without lawyers in the Circuit Court. For more than a decade, the CBF has worked with the Circuit Court, CARPLS, CLC, several other pro bono and legal aid organizations, the CBA, and other stakeholders to develop and nurture a network of more than 10 legal advice desks to serve people without lawyers in the Daley Center and other court-based locations. The CBF provides key funding and other support for these desks because they provide critical help for people coming into the courts on their own.

An advice desk lawyer can triage the situation, give brief legal advice and assistance, and make a referral to pro bono and legal aid lawyers when necessary and available. These desks have been developed gradually over the years throughout the Daley Center and beyond, utilizing any space that could be found over time. Consolidating three of the largest desks in the new Center has created numerous efficiencies and allows people to receive help in more centralized, private space.

JusticeCorps Volunteers Get People Where They Need to Be
One of the many advantages for both clients and the advice desks in the Center is the presence of JusticeCorps, an innovative AmeriCorps program that the CBF first launched in 2009 and, for the past two years, has operated in partnership with the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice. JusticeCorps volunteers, who mainly are undergraduate students and recent graduates, act as docents and provide other procedural and navigational assistance to people without lawyers.

Every morning starting at 8:00 am, JusticeCorps volunteers are on-site at the Center, managing the flow of traffic, checking people into the Center, and helping people get to where they need to be in the Daley Center. In the Center’s first full month of operation alone, JusticeCorps members provided assistance to almost 2,000 people.

A Big First Step
The CBF’s vision of a truly user-friendly and accessible justice system has long included a central starting point in the Daley Center, where people without lawyers can receive help navigating a complex system, as well as brief legal advice, related assistance, and referrals to other services. Thanks to the leadership of Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans and our other partners, the Center is a big first step towards that goal.

[panel background=”#D8D8D8″ color=”#000000#D8D8D8″ border=”0px solid #cccccc” shadow=”4px 4px 2px #bbbbbb” radius=”4″]CBF Welcomes New President and Board Members


2014-2015 CBF Board President Jesse Ruiz of Drinker, Biddle & Reath

Jesse Ruiz, a Partner at Drinker, Biddle & Reath and a leader in Chicago’s legal community, took the helm as the 2014-2015 CBF Board President at the CBF’s July board meeting. A member of the board since 2009, Jesse becomes the 33rd President in the CBF’s history and takes over at an exciting time for the CBF. Last year saw some tremendous impact under outgoing President Bill Conlon’s leadership, and we look to expand on those accomplishments this year.

We welcome a distinguished group of new board members this year:

€¢ Cynthia Photos Abbott, Motorola Mobility LLC

€¢ Gregory M. Boyle, Jenner & Block LLP

€¢ Mary K. Curry, U.S. District Court

€¢ BrionW. Doherty, Stotis & Baird Chartered

€¢ Paula Hudson Holderman,Winston & Strawn LLP

€¢ Patricia Brown Holmes, Schiff Hardin LLP €¢ Thomas V. Linguanti, Baker & McKenzie LLP

€¢ Brooke E. Loucks, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

€¢ Gil M. Soffer, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP

€¢ John T. Theis, Law Office of John T. Theis

The July board meeting also celebrated the leadership, dedication, and impact of several longtime board members who completed their terms.We are extremely grateful for their contributions to the board and the CBF and look forward to working with them in other capacities in the CBF’s continuing efforts to ensure the justice system is fair and accessible to everyone in our community, regardless of their income or circumstances.

€¢ J. Timothy Eaton, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP

€¢ Austin L. Hirsch, Reed Smith LLP

€¢ Ray J. Koenig III, Clark Hill PLC

€¢ Nancy C. Loeb, Northwestern University School of Law

€¢ Ajay K. Mago, Jones Day

€¢ Natacha D. McClain, Attorney at Law

€¢ Samuel Mendenhall,Winston & Strawn LLP

€¢ Katherine Miletich, Vedder Price P.C.

€¢ Natalie Spears, Dentons US LLP

€¢ Terrence J. Truax, Jenner & Block LLP

You can see a full board list at chicagobarfoundation.org/about/board.[/panel]