Our Blog


September 11, 2018

How a Gift to the CBF Becomes a Grant with Exponential Impact

Grants to support pro bono and legal aid organizations have been a central part of the CBF’s work since its inception. Last year, the CBF awarded over $2 million in grants, investing in the entire pro bono and legal aid system in our community.  A lot goes into determining how the CBF allocates these grant […]

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September 7, 2018

A Life Changer for Children and Their Caregivers

Tuesday was the first day of school for thousands of Chicago Public School students. Imagine that you are caring for your grandchild because the child’s parents are not able to do so. You try to enroll your grandchild in school but the school refuses until you provide proof of guardianship. What is that? Where and […]

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September 5, 2018

Investing in Justice: More Than a Catchy Tagline

Chicago is fortunate to have more than 30 impressive pro bono and legal aid organizations that collectively provide often critical legal services to more than 150,000 people in need in our community each year. The CBF has supported many of these organizations from the time of their inception, and virtually all of them for many […]

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August 31, 2018

Justice for Youth Campaign Called Attention to a Budding Crisis

Back in the early 1990’s, the juvenile court and juvenile welfare systems were fighting an increasingly losing battle to protect and care for thousands of abused, neglected or troubled children in Cook County and elsewhere in Illinois. The CBF saw this budding crisis as an opportunity and, in partnership with The Chicago Bar Association, launched […]

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August 30, 2018

Expanding Practices and Access through Limited Scope

Across the country, the civil justice system is undergoing a transformation. More and more litigants are appearing in court without lawyers, making up well over half of the civil litigants in Illinois and closer to 75% nationally. Self-representation is no longer limited to the poorest users of the court system; growing numbers of middle-class people […]

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August 28, 2018

If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, You Might Not Get There

That was one of the legendary Yogi Berra’s many great quotes, and it has particular resonance in the nonprofit arena. For organizations seeking to make a difference in the world, having a clear idea of who you are, what you are trying to accomplish, and how you will know if you are making progress is […]

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August 24, 2018

A Gift Becomes a Legacy

2018 CBF Moses Scholarship recipient Angela Kilgore

Throughout our 70-year history, the CBF has been fortunate to receive a number of planned gifts from generous members of the legal community. A good example was a gift Eleanor Moses made to the CBF in 1975 in memory of her husband and in honor of her […]

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August 22, 2018

A Roadmap to Resources in the Courts

Throughout the thirty floors and 120 court and hearing rooms of the Richard J. Daley Center, you can frequently hear court patrons asking the same question over and over again, Where do I go? The building is big, the largest courthouse in the state, and it can seem overwhelming with its multiple elevator banks and unclear signage.  While many helpful resources are located in the building, its sheer size and scale can make it challenging to keep track of who they are and what they do. Court patrons in a need of a specific service may not be able to find it easily, and Illinois JusticeCorps volunteers can’t cover the entire building.

The CBF saw an opportunity to improve the navigation process within the building by working with the Circuit Court of Cook County Pro Se Advisory Committee to develop a referral sheet for people without lawyers.

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August 20, 2018

A Central Place to Start the Often Daunting Court Journey

A little legal help can go a long way. That’s the idea behind the network of court-based help desks located throughout Chicago and Cook County that serve tens of thousands of people every year. Lawyers and other legal professionals can quickly triage a court patron’s situation and determine what level of help he or she might need. Depending on the desk and the situation, that help can range from brief advice to forms preparation to a referral for full pro bono representation.

In the spring of 2014, the CBF, in collaboration with the Circuit Court and several pro bono and legal aid organizations, reached a milestone in its long-term efforts to make the court system more user-friendly and accessible by opening the Resource Center for People without Lawyers.

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August 17, 2018

What’s in a Name?

Many know the CBF works with the courts, the legal community, and pro bono and legal aid organizations to ensure that the courts are user-friendly, accessible, and fair for the increasing number of people navigating the legal system without lawyers. What is less known, however, is that work sometimes takes us to Springfield to advocate for changes in the laws that have made the court system unduly complicated in the first place.

While many changes can be implemented at the court level, others are embedded in the fabric of our laws. Several years ago, the CBF recognized that there was a unique opportunity for us to include these kinds of simplification efforts in our annual advocacy plan. But where to start?

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