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September 14, 2017

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma—How to Help on the Legal Aid and Pro Bono Fronts

Post has been updated to include information on Hurricane Irma relief.

As we continue to tackle our local access to justice challenges, we are also greatly concerned about the devastation from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The human toll is creating huge challenges for everyone, and there are lots of ways to contribute through the Red Cross, Salvation Army and others to help meet some of those immediate needs.

As the recovery process begins, many thousands of people are going to need legal help for storm-related issues as well. That heightened need will be exacerbated in the Houston area because the main legal aid program there, Lone Star Legal Aid, had their office burn down due to storm-related causes.

The easiest and best thing you can do from here to help on the access to justice front is to make a contribution to support the pro bono and legal aid efforts in the impacted areas. The Texas Access to Justice Foundation and Florida Bar Foundation have each set up a special fund if you are interested in making a contribution to directly support legal aid for storm victims.

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September 13, 2017

New Limited Scope Representation Toolkit a Great Resource for Lawyers to Expand Their Practice and Improve Access to Justice

A new Limited Scope Representation Toolkit released by the CBF and others is a practical resource for Illinois lawyers seeking to expand or add limited scope representation as one of their service offerings. A number of recent reports have shown there is a huge untapped demand for limited scope representation, and expanding the availability of these services can go a long way towards improving access to justice in our community.

The CBF and our Justice Entrepreneurs Project (JEP) developed the toolkit in partnership with the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice, The Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, and The Chicago Bar Association. The resources in this toolkit—including rules, forms, checklists, and a sample engagement letter—are intended to assist attorneys in understanding the limited scope rules and using them in an ethical and effective manner to make their services more accessible and affordable for clients who might not otherwise be able to afford full representation.

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September 7, 2017

Support the DREAM Act

President Trump’s decision this week to end the DACA program leaves thousands of young people who have done nothing wrong in legal limbo. These “dreamers” are making huge contributions to our economy, our communities, and our country. The bipartisan DREAM Act fixes this crucial flaw in our nation’s broken immigration laws by creating a legal path for these young people to gain permanent legal status and continue contributing to their communities. Please contact Senator Durbin and thank him for his leadership in cosponsoring the DREAM Act, and encourage Senator Duckworth and your local Representative in Congress to support the Act (S.1615/H.R. 3440), which promotes our nation’s core values and the rule of law.

Take Action

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August 29, 2017

Mediate the CCR Way: The Essentials of the CCR Model

Have you ever wondered if mediation is for you but didn’t have the resources to commit to a standard 40-hour training program? Attend the Center for Conflict Resolution’s one day training on November 4th to learn the basics, how to become a CCR volunteer, and earn six CLE credits.

Register/Costs/Details

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August 24, 2017

Put Yourself in Your Own Shoes—Part 2 (Where I Answer My Own Questions)

In my June post, I suggested we should look at our profession and the market for legal services by putting ourselves in our own shoes when we look for other professional services. So what does that look like? I raised the questions in June. Now I’ll give my best shot at answering them.

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August 24, 2017

Forcible Entry and Detainer No More

Last week, Governor Rauner signed Public Act 100-0173 into law, simplifying the law governing evictions in Illinois by changing the confusing title and archaic language of the “Forcible Entry and Detainer Act.” The CBA and CBF partnered this year to spearhead this legislative initiative. By changing the name of the Act to the Eviction Act, and changing the similarly confusing name of the order used for evictions from “order of possession” to “eviction order,” the eviction process will now be more user-friendly and understandable for tenants and landlords alike.

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August 23, 2017

Chris Lee Awarded 2017 Marovitz Scholarship

Christen David Lee started each of his high school days on the bus from his home in Austin and North Lawndale to Lincoln Park High School. Outside the windows, he watched the blocks of vacant lots and dilapidated buildings of the city’s west side slowly change into an entirely different world, where mansions sat across the street from his school. Chris, recipient of the 2017 CBF Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Public Interest Law Scholarship, was struck by the incredible inequalities of Chicago.

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August 21, 2017

Navigating People Through the Maze of Bankruptcy

The Bankruptcy Court Self Help Assistance Desk, run by LAF, does just what you would expect it to do—helps clients file for bankruptcy as they seek relief from suffocating piles of debt. But as with bankruptcy itself, the full reality is much more complicated—and the help much more far-reaching—than that.

The Desk aids unrepresented filers at every point in the bankruptcy process, which can be daunting and complex. In Room 622 of the Dirksen Building, pro bono attorneys and lawyers from LAF answer general questions about bankruptcy, help visitors decide if bankruptcy is their best option, and help prepare forms for people without lawyers in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The Desk eases the burden on the court by helping patrons evaluate their options before unnecessarily filing for bankruptcy. Each year, about 44,000 bankruptcy cases are filed in the Northern District of Illinois, the most in the country, so every bit of paperwork reduction helps the court run more efficiently. Launched in 2007 as a partnership with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, LAF and the CBF, the Desk is one of the many projects you make possible through the Investing in Justice Campaign.

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August 3, 2017

Justice Entrepreneurs Project Accepting Applications

At the Justice Entrepreneurs Project, we prepare talented and entrepreneurial lawyers in the Chicago area to manage innovative, socially conscious, and successful law practices. We believe in the power of entrepreneurial lawyers to make a difference as solo practitioners in the quest to ensure access to justice for all.  Are you a recently admitted lawyer interested in obtaining the skills and resources necessary to build an innovative and successful law practice? Are you interested in making a positive impact on your community as a social entrepreneur? We offer access to mentorship, continuing legal education, a network of like-minded individuals, and subsidized resources to kick start a legal practice targeted at the underserved middle market of potential clients.

The JEP is seeking applications for its next class of participants who will begin the program November of 2017. Applications must be received by Friday, September 8, 2017 to be considered for the November 2017 JEP cohort.

Learn more/Apply

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July 26, 2017

Stand Up for Justice

As we got ready to honor eight truly outstanding lawyers at this year’s CBA and CBF’s Pro Bono and Public Service Awards Luncheon, I found some inspiration for my closing remarks while watching Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game, where they once again took a break in the middle of the game for Stand up to Cancer.

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