CBF Legal Aid Academy Continues to Provide Top-Notch Training for Dedicated Advocates

Chicago is fortunate to have scores of outstanding lawyers working in legal aid and providing top-notch representation to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. However, these lawyers often face challenges in accessing the training and professional development necessary for them to grow and thrive in their careers, and that is where the CBF Legal Aid Academy comes in.

The Legal Aid Academy is an innovative pro bono program to improve training and professional development opportunities for legal aid attorneys and staff. While legal aid organizations generally provide outstanding training to their lawyers in their fields of substantive expertise, they often struggle to find the time and resources to train their attorneys on the other skills required to succeed in these careers. The Legal Aid Academy draws on the resources and expertise of law firm professional development professionals, consultants, and others in Chicago’s legal community to train legal aid attorneys through customized programming on a range of topics such as trial skills, supervision and management, and other skills necessary to build a successful and fulfilling career.

The Legal Aid Academy has provided access to thousands of hours of free CLE programming through CBF partnerships with CLE providers including the Practicing Law Institute (PLI), Pincus Professional Education, and a number of others. In addition, a special CBA/CBF partnership allows hundreds of legal aid lawyers at CBF-funded legal aid organizations to have complimentary access to the full array of Chicago Bar Association CLE programs as well as access to regular programs through the CBA Legal Aid Committee.

This fall, the Legal Aid Academy coordinated two in-person customized training sessions for legal aid attorneys in partnership with law firms and other organizations.

In collaboration with Baker McKenzie and David Cruickshank from Edge International, the Legal Aid Academy presented “Design & Deliver Great Training” in early October. This is the fifth time the Academy has offered this intensive, “train the trainers” program. During this two-day session, attendees learned how to deliver trainings more effectively to their target audiences that they will use to collectively train hundreds of others, amplifying the volume and effectiveness of training for the entire legal aid community.

For the past eight years, Kirkland & Ellis LLP and the Legal Aid Academy have offered a customized Trial and Deposition Skills Training program that most recently was offered to a new group of advocates at the firm in mid-October. In this three-day session, participants had the opportunity to sharpen their skills with mock depositions and witness examinations while receiving immediate feedback from experienced litigators at the firm.

Through the Legal Aid Academy, the CBF will continue to provide these necessary connections and trainings to help meet the higher-level professional development needs of Chicago’s legal aid community.