The ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference, the principal gathering for the many partners working on access to justice issues around the country, was held earlier this month in Minneapolis, and CBF programs were prominently on display.
This session focused on the millions of people around the country who are above the income eligibility line for legal aid yet still struggle to find affordable legal help when they need it. For almost a decade now, the CBF has played a lead role in helping these legal consumers connect with affordable and accessible legal services through the Justice Entrepreneurs Project (JEP). Through the JEP, the CBF has learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work for the middle market and what types of business models can sustainably serve it. Through this workshop we were able to share those learnings and highlight some other promising models around the country for serving this market. The CBF will be playing a lead role in the coming year to develop a national network for organizations working on these issues, and the conference workshop was a great springboard for that work.
Managing the unique pandemic-related challenges and opportunities for people facing eviction and the courts is a pressing issue throughout the country. The Cook County Legal Aid for Housing and Debt (CCLAHD) program that the CBF played a lead role in developing and implementing in the Chicago area was one of the programs highlighted as a model for others tackling these issues. Through a network of community partners, CCLAHD provides free legal assistance, access to rental assistance, mediation, and case management for residents and landlords dealing with eviction issues. The program also helps individuals with consumer debt issues, and homeowners facing foreclosure and tax deed issues. More information on the program is available here.
Over the past year, the CBF has been working in partnership with representatives from Thompson Reuters, Ballad Spahr, and the Law Firm Anti-Racism Alliance to establish a sortable, searchable national cultural responsiveness learning hub. The goal of the hub is to help legal aid lawyers, pro bono volunteers, and other advocates provide culturally responsive representation and advocacy to clients from low-income, underserved, immigrant, and diverse communities. The CBF and our other partners presented a demo version of the hub at the conference and received helpful feedback on ways to develop and improve the resource as we continue to build it out going forward.