Our Blog


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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January 23, 2018

Justice Entrepreneurs Project Accepting Applications

The Justice Entrepreneurs Project is seeking entrepreneurial and public interest-minded recent law graduates for its next class of lawyers who will begin the program in May 2018.

The JEP prepares 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. And after welcoming ten cohorts into the JEP Network, we know it’s possible to do well while doing good. We’re excited to help the next generation of attorneys build businesses by meeting the needs of an untapped market for legal services.

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January 11, 2018

Legal Aid Committee—Selected Highlights 2017

In 2017, perhaps more than ever before, we saw the impact that the pro bono and legal aid community can have when everyone bands together to effect change. We saw lawyers come together all over the country, and in Chicago we can be particularly proud as is evidenced by the CBA Legal Aid Committee’s Selected Highlights from 2017.

The Committee’s—which the CBF staffs—compilation highlights some of the very best of how pro bono and legal aid can have a positive impact on every level, from helping individual clients to sweeping class actions, from legislation and far-reaching policy changes to entirely new programs, like the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network, that help people most in need. These highlights include everything from how advocates helped to end the Illinois budget crisis to collaborations addressing the needs and fears of our immigrant neighbors and their families.

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