Investing in Justice Campaign in Action


December 20, 2016

More than a Century of Delivering Justice for People in Need

Whenever there needed to be a legal voice at the table, the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services had a seat. With former U.S. presidents on the board, and handwritten letters from Presidents Nixon and Roosevelt outlining their appreciation for the work the organization does, LAS has a legacy that is unparalleled.

As the second oldest legal aid organization in the nation, LAS, one of the many outstanding organizations you are supporting through the Investing in Justice Campaign, has been a pioneer in defining what justice for all really means. Founded in 1886, the organization was one of the first in the country to provide legal services for the poor. Its mission is to protect and strengthen families by providing equal access to justice for the most vulnerable citizens, including low-income people, the elderly and victims of domestic violence.

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November 16, 2016

Worth a Second Chance

The police did not know how to support her. The 12-year-old had repeatedly abused her guardian and seemed to be in an endless cycle of getting arrested and then hospitalized. Time and time again, she faced the criminal justice system, only to be subsequently failed by it.

The staff at the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy, one of the many outstanding organizations you are supporting through the Investing in Justice Campaign, quickly realized that her core issues were not being addressed. They fought within the school system, advocating that she be residentially placed. They argued that she was unfit to stand trial and could not be held responsible given her complex mental health issues. The court lacked the services to help her with these issues, so The Moran Center attorneys and social workers ensured she would receive these services from her school.

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October 19, 2016

Strengthening Organizations that Lift Communities

Breaking Ground had been providing education, job readiness, and employment services to Chicago’s North Lawndale community for years before seeking help from The Law Project, a program under Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and one of the many outstanding organizations you are supporting through the Investing in Justice Campaign. Breaking Ground needed legal assistance with the purchase of a residential building to provide transitional housing for ex-offenders who successfully completed their job-readiness program, and The Law Project had the resources and expertise to help make that a reality. A partnership soon developed, and Breaking Ground continued to turn to the program for help with other legal matters, including a merger with another organization, partnership with general counsel, and tax issues.

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September 28, 2016

Removing Legal Obstacles to Artistic Dreams

Chicago is known for its thriving arts scene, which is a big draw for both locals and tourists alike and an increasingly potent economic force for the city. A number of talented individuals and organizations make up that thriving arts scene, and a lot goes into their success. Perhaps the most underrated component of success in the arts is the availability of good legal help, particularly when individuals and organizations are just getting started.

Lawyers for the Creative Arts is the only nonprofit in Chicago that offers legal assistance to financially eligible artists and small arts organizations, and is also one of the many outstanding organizations you are supporting through the Investing in Justice Campaign.

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August 17, 2016

Illinois’ Legal Aid Tech Hub Gets a New Platform

Back in 1999, when planning for the project that would become today’s Illinois Legal Aid Online first began, the state of technology was quite a bit different than today. Computers were just starting to become common on lawyers’ desks, and large numbers of people did not have access to computers in their homes. Smart phones, Facebook and Twitter weren’t on anyone’s radar yet and would not come on to the scene for several more years.

Even so, there were a few visionaries back then who believed that we could do a much better job of delivering legal information and resources to pro bono and legal aid lawyers and to the public by harnessing the power of the internet. After a lot of planning and often spirited discussions, that vision became a reality in 2001 when Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO), one of the many outstanding organizations you are supporting through the Investing in Justice Campaign, officially was formed. Along with Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois and IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, the CBF provided the necessary seed funding and was one of the founding partners of ILAO, which initially was called the Illinois Technology Center for Law and the Public Interest.

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July 20, 2016

Let’s Take It Outside: Resolving Conflict Outside of the Courtroom

It’s hard to come to a mutual agreement when you’re fighting about an emotionally charged topic. Especially if that topic is child custody with a former spouse.

Mike and Kelly created a parenting schedule when they first got divorced, but that plan began to erode over time, as did their communication. Kelly prohibited Mike from seeing their daughters on school nights because he didn’t make the girls do their homework when he was with them. Wanting to explore his options, Mike opened a case for mediation with the Center for Conflict Resolution.

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June 22, 2016

Restoring Justice for the Abused

The world was quick to turn against a Hollywood actress when she spoke out about allegations of domestic violence. Why? Because the alleged abuser is one of Hollywood’s most beloved actors.

The public was quick to point out, But she was recently pictured smiling! Loved ones rushed to his defense, including his ex-wife, In all the years I have known him, he has never been physically abusive with me.

The incident has given advocates a platform to address the biggest misconceptions surrounding domestic violence, including the fact that an abuser does not always have a history of abuse in past relationships.

One of the biggest misconceptions that Denice Markham Wolf, executive director at Life Span, wants to clear up is that domestic violence is not about hitting. Domestic violence, she explains, is about one person having total power and control over the victim, degrading them, and isolating them from family and friends.

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May 17, 2016

A Lawyer and a Priest’s Vision for Justice

After graduating from DePaul’s law school together in the early 1980’s, Ed Grossman and Bishop Thomas Paprocki (then a full-time parish priest) embarked on a mission to provide accessible and affordable legal services to the South Chicago community, which was suffering amidst the decline of the steel industry that had been the community’s economic anchor for decades.

The classmates adopted a sliding scale model for their organization so that they could provide services both for people who could afford to pay something and for those who couldn’t afford to pay anything.

At the time, Ed was a 24-year-old fresh-faced attorney and aspired to serve 300 people a year. Flash forward 35 years, and the organization, now known as the Chicago Legal Clinic (CLC), has some years served upwards of 40,000 people a year across dozens of Chicago communities.

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April 19, 2016

Reaching Beyond the Matter at Hand

Mary Ann Blakemore’s home was firebombed by her daughter’s boyfriend in a brutal attack that not only destroyed the elderly woman’s public housing apartment and nearly all her possessions, but left her hospitalized with third-degree burns. Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) officials so dragged their feet in securing her a new apartment, that Mary Ann had no home once she was finally released from the rehabilitation center many months later. Fortunately, Mary Ann sought help from a fierce advocate the dedicated attorneys in LAF’s Housing Unit.

In March, nearly a year later, the case settled with Blakemore receiving a new apartment and financial aid to help replace her belongings. Moreover, HACC agreed to retrain its employees on fair housing law, including protections for domestic violence victims and residents with disabilities.

The legal victory is one of several that have made headlines recently for effecting both significant individual impact and a lasting impact on housing law in Chicago.

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February 29, 2016

CARPLS Legal Aid’s Emergency Room

The phone rings. I answer to a woman frantically telling me that DCFS still hasn’t released her daughter to her care. Her daughter was taken from her pending an investigation of neglected supervision. I have to interrupt her in the midst of her plea to tell her that we do not provide direct legal services at the CBF.

The scenario plays out several times a day. Someone’s fighting an eviction, another is fighting for their child. One person is looking to turn their life around by expunging a record. They can’t afford a lawyer, but they’re clearly in need of legal help. I can’t personally help them, but I give them the legal version of 911. I refer them to CARPLS, Cook County’s free legal aid hotline and one of the many outstanding organizations you are supporting through the Investing in Justice Campaign.

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