Our Blog


October 3, 2018

group shot from 2006 pro bono weekThe Most Wonderful Time of the Year (for Pro Bono)

It seems like every day and week is some quirky celebration these days. The first full week of March is National Procrastination Week. National Waffle Week falls from September 2nd-8th this year. September 19th is the fan-favorite International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Here at the CBF, our favorite, for the 14th year running, is […]

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September 28, 2018

legislative group shotSay What You Mean, and Mean What You Say

There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same […]

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September 27, 2018

A Voice in the Court System for People without Lawyers

Pro se litigants may not have an advocate in the courtroom, but they have an advocate in the court system thanks to the efforts of the CBF and the Circuit Court of Cook County, who joined forces in 2009 to establish the Circuit Court Pro Se Advisory Committee.

The Committee works to improve coordination and effectiveness […]

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September 25, 2018

sun times fellowsCBF Sun-Times Fellowship Gives a Lifeline to 50 Legal Aid Attorneys

In the past 15 years, cy pres awards directed to the CBF have made a tremendous impact in our work to make the justice system more fair and efficient for all. One award gave the CBF the opportunity to launch the groundbreaking, 10-year CBF Sun-Times Public Interest Law Fellowship program, designed to help make it […]

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September 21, 2018

A Match Made in Justice: Cy Pres Awards and Legal Aid

In class action cases (and occasionally in other types of proceedings like bankruptcy and probate matters), it is fairly common that some of the funds ordered to be paid to the class cannot be distributed to all of the class members or go unclaimed. What to do then?

Over the years, cy pres or residual fund […]

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September 20, 2018

Legal Aid Yields a Strong Return on Investment

A well-funded legal aid system helps to ensure that our justice system is fair and efficient for all, regardless of income. Like us, you’re probably thinking that’s all the reason anyone would need. But then there’s the icing on the cake. Studies from more than 25 states, including Illinois, have repeatedly shown that it is […]

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September 20, 2018

leighton courthouseJusticeCorps Expands to the Criminal Court

Every year in Cook County, over one million criminal cases are filed. They range from low-level misdemeanors to serious felony charges, and everything in between. Most of these cases are heard at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse located at 2650 S. California in Chicago. Victims, family members, probationers, and the criminal defendants themselves churn […]

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September 20, 2018

What Do We Mean When We Say Access to Justice?

Access to justice or equal access to justice, as it often is stated* is the promised land we all are seeking. But what is it? And what is necessary to achieve it?

After I proposed a banned words list for access to justice earlier this year, several people commented that we should add another phrase to the list: access to justice! That was not meant as snark, but as genuine concern that the phrase has grown too amorphous and inconsistent to be meaningful. And that presents a big problem for all of us who care about these issues.

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September 18, 2018

Municipal Court Advice Desk Prepares and Empowers

Evictions. Contract disputes. Auto accidents. Debt collection. While some of these cases may seem small from the outside, they can be very high stakes for a low-income person going to court without an attorney to defend their housing, their financial security, or their business interests. These are the types of cases heard in the First […]

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September 14, 2018

mary meg and clientsLocal Challenges, State and National Solutions

Many of the access to justice issues we face in the Chicago area require action on the state or federal level to resolve. Working with many dedicated partners on the local, state and national levels, the CBF’s advocacy and community leadership extends well beyond the borders of Cook County, along with its impact.

A good example […]

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