Our Blog


April 6, 2018

5th Annual Passport to Chicago a Success

On Wednesday, April 4, nearly 200 guests came together for the 5th Annual Passport to Chicago event in support of the Chicago Bar Foundation. Set at Kendall College with a picturesque view of the city’s skyline, guests enjoyed dishes representing different Chicago neighborhoods, conceived and prepared by members of the Kendall College Competition Club.

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March 29, 2018

A Fool for a Client?

“A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Most of us have heard that old adage, and while we’ve thankfully come a long way from those days when the assumption was the lawyer would be a “him,” we’ve also reached a point where advances in technology and the growing gap in access to free and affordable legal services require us to revisit the underlying premise.

When do we really need a lawyer to get a just result? Or put another way, when are we fools to try to go it alone (assuming we even have a choice)? Not to be overdramatic, but there is not a more critical question today for access to justice and the future of our profession.

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March 27, 2018

Educational Debt, Public Service Loan Forgiveness on the Agenda for Congress this Spring

As the costs of higher education and the resulting explosion of debt to finance it increasingly weigh on newer lawyers pursuing legal aid, public service and other socially conscious careers in law, it has created whole new challenges for access to justice. The federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and several income-based repayment (IBR) programs for federally backed student loans have made these legal careers viable for thousands of dedicated lawyers who otherwise would have to take a different path due to the financial challenges.

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March 14, 2018

Mental Health Pro Bono Program

Each year, nearly one in five Americans will experience a mental health concern and countless more will watch a loved one struggle with mental illness. In Cook County alone, 200,000 residents will experience a severe mental health episode each year. When mental illness strikes, friends and family often struggle to understand the available medical, legal, and supportive services; how they intersect; and how they can be accessed on behalf of a loved one.

The Mental Health Pro Bono Pilot Program will provide much-needed assistance to families struggling to get legal help for their loves ones during and after a severe mental health episode. As a pro bono volunteer, you will work directly with families, offering them vitally important information about their legal options ranging from guardianship to involuntary inpatient commitment.

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February 23, 2018

Top Ten Reasons the Billable Hour Needs to Go

The billable hour continues to be a significant and self-inflicted barrier to access to justice. Whatever its merits may be in the corporate market, for low and moderate-income individuals and small businesses the billable hour makes legal services less affordable and accessible because it lacks transparency and certainty and misaligns incentives for efficiency, innovation, and value.

Albert Einstein said “If I had one hour to save the world, I would spend the first 55 minutes defining the problem and 5 minutes finding the solution.” Here are my top 10 reasons the billable hour is a problem for access to justice.

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February 17, 2018

CBF Receives ABA Louis Brown Award for Legal Access

The CBF was honored to receive this year’s Louis Brown Award for Legal Access from the American Bar Association at the ABA’s Midyear Meeting earlier this month.

The Brown Award is an annual award presented by the ABA to programs and projects “that advance access to legal services for those of moderate incomes in ways that are exemplary and replicable.”

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February 15, 2018

JEPY Award Voting Underway, Legal Service Delivery Innovation Award Hotly Contested

The Second Annual JEPY Awards Ballot is live through Sunday, February 26. Votes are being cast for six categories ahead of the February 26th Awards Ceremony.

Voting has begun for the JEPY Awards, the CBF Justice Entrepreneurs Project’s annual event recognizing achievement in bringing affordable legal services to the masses and celebrating innovative and community focused practices.

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February 14, 2018

Breaking Poverty Barriers To Equal Justice

Join the CBA’s Legal Aid Committee on Tuesday, March 6th at 3pm for a multimedia, interactive video and panel CLE presentation designed to help legal professionals better understand the life circumstances and day-to-day challenges of their clients who are experiencing poverty. Expert panelists will provide practical strategies to help legal professionals communicate more effectively with their clients and improve client services and case outcomes. Attendees will receive 2.75 PR-CLE credits.

Register/Learn More

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January 25, 2018

A Bittersweet End, A Solid Model for the Future

In the ongoing budget saga for the Cook County government, one of the unfortunate casualties has been the Circuit Court Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program, which officially ended in December when its funding was not renewed.

While there is no doubt the current budget challenges facing the County in the aftermath of its recent “soda tax” debacle are real, eliminating this successful program is a shortsighted move that will end up costing the County much more than it would to fund the program at its prior 2017 level. As we continue to evaluate whether there are other potential County funding options to restart the program, looking back on what made the program most effective over the past 7+ years offers a good model for developing effective court-based programs going forward.

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January 24, 2018

Rebecca Eisner to Chair 2018 Investing in Justice Campaign

Rebecca Eisner, Partner-in-Charge of Mayer Brown’s Chicago office, will lead the CBF’s 12th Annual Investing in Justice Campaign. The Campaign is the CBF’s annual initiative that rallies Chicago’s entire legal community around our common cause of ensuring that everyone has access to necessary legal help, not just people who can afford it. This year’s Campaign will kick off on March 5th and run throughout the month. Thousands of individual lawyers and legal professionals at more than 150 Chicago-area law firms, corporate legal departments, companies, and other-law related organizations again will be part of the Campaign.

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