Our Blog


August 16, 2018

Pointing the Way to the Right Legal Help

We are fortunate in Chicago to have a robust and committed pro bono and legal aid community, with more than thirty organizations offering free or affordable legal help to people who would otherwise have nowhere to turn. While there is not nearly enough help to go around for everyone who needs it, people looking for help still struggle to figure out how and where to start their search. Upon seeing a list of the many excellent pro bono and legal aid organizations serving the Chicago area, people often describe it as alphabet soup and can find it overwhelming.

The CBF saw a need for a better way to connect people with the valuable free and low-cost legal resources in our community. Almost two decades ago, the CBF worked with the CBA Young Lawyers Section, CARPLS and other partners to create the original version of Where to Go for Legal Assistance in or Around Chicago.

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August 15, 2018

Our Profession’s Losing Battle Against the Market

By any definition, we have a failure in the market for legal services for everyday people today, and a growing one at that. We have more lawyers than ever before at the same time as record numbers of people who need or would benefit from legal help are not getting it. Yet when faced with proposed changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct to address this market failure, the default response of our profession is to fight to maintain a losing status quo perhaps making some technical changes but avoiding the larger issues.

Lipstick on a pig, as the saying goes, when what we really need is a new regulatory approach that does not force lawyers to compete in the market with one hand tied behind their backs.

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August 15, 2018

Shannon Glover Awarded 2018 Marovitz Scholarship

Shannon Glover, an incoming first-year law student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, was recently awarded the 2018 CBF Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Public Interest Law Scholarship. The 16th CBF Marovitz Scholar in the program’s history, Shannon joins an impressive group of future and practicing lawyers who are passionate about helping vulnerable people in our community get the legal help they need.

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August 14, 2018

Seeding Innovation in the Practice of Law

Flash back to 2010, a time few of us would look back on fondly. Our legal community was in the full throes of the recession, with the job market for newer lawyers in tatters and more people than ever in need of legal help yet unable to get it.

Never let a good crisis go to waste was a quote often heard from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel around the time, and the CBF did not. The CBF saw a prime opportunity to tackle this growing dysfunction in the legal market and began the work that ultimately led to the launch of the CBF Justice Entrepreneurs Project in early 2013.

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August 10, 2018

CBF Grants: A Legacy of Impact

In the 70 years since its founding, the CBF has given out nearly $50 million in grants to support pro bono, legal aid and related initiatives, and more than $42 million since 1999.

Over that time, the CBF has honed its grantmaking focus around access to justice and expanded its grantmaking partnerships with other foundations, the courts, and government entities. More than 5,200 individual donors, more than 200 law firms, corporations and other law-related organizations, and the CBF’s many dedicated partners have enabled the CBF to increase our annual grants more than tenfold over the past 20 years. Today, the CBF awards over $2 million in grants, investing in the entire pro bono and legal aid system in our community.

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August 8, 2018

The CBF Marovitz Scholarship: Helping Future Legal Aid Leaders

“Everybody can’t do big things, but we all can do little things that help others.”

That phrase was one of the trademarks of the late Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz, both in word and deed. Throughout his distinguished life and career, Judge Marovitz, or Judge Abe to the many who knew him, was a firm believer that financial need should not be a bar to dedicated young students who want to pursue careers in public service.

As we celebrate the CBF’s 70th Anniversary, we look back to a little thing Judge Marovitz did to help aspiring law students pursue their dreams of helping others–the CBF Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Public Interest Law School Scholarship. First awarded in 2004, the Marovitz Scholarship was made possible by a generous planned gift by Judge Marovitz.

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August 6, 2018

A Pro Bono Checklist for Success

A good pro bono program takes work to develop, maintain, and improve. It requires a lot of planning to ensure it meets the needs of the client population, fills a gap in existing resources, and incorporates feedback from all stakeholders. It should have clear criteria for screening cases and a plan for periodic review and adjustment to reflect changes in the community, the law, or the courts.

If that sounds like a lot to think about, that’s because it is. Fortunately, the CBF has created a tool to help organizations looking to establish new pro bono programs to think through these and the many other issues that are critical to designing and implementing a successful program.

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August 3, 2018

Young Professionals Dive in at the CBF

Young legal professionals today are busier than ever. Between balancing challenging work obligations and growing families, we’re grateful for the dedication of some of our best ambassadors:  the members of the CBF’s Young Professionals Board (YPB).

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August 2, 2018

CBA Legal Aid Committee: Sometimes You Want to Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Of the 100+ committees that the Chicago Bar Association provides, an attorney is sure to find a place to call home among like-minded professionals in their field. The legal aid community is no exception.

The CBF is proud to partner with and staff the CBA Legal Aid Committee, bringing together representatives from pro bono and legal aid organizations to address topics of common interest and to share information with one another. The Committee also works to further the understanding that each legal aid organization is part of a broader network in order to encourage collaboration and foster a sense of community.

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July 31, 2018

A Friendly Guide in the Courthouse Maze

Through the CBF’s work to make the courts more user-friendly and accessible for the growing number of people without lawyers, it became clear that court patrons often have a more immediate challenge than the legal issue that brought them there. People coming to court on their own often have a difficult time navigating a building […]

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