Our Blog


February 27, 2017

YLS Miami Nights 80’s Fun while Supporting the CBF

On February 24, the CBA Young Lawyers Section hosted Miami Nights, an event to benefit the CBF. Nearly 150 people from the legal community came together at the University Club for an 80’s-themed night of casino games, a poker tournament, fun, mingling, and charity. We’re extremely grateful to the YLS, and special thanks to YLS Public Service Manager Alex Memmen, the event committee, the volunteers, and YLS Director Jennifer Byrne. The YLS plays an important role in making the CBF’s work possible.

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February 27, 2017

Promoting Justice and Due Process for Immigrants for Over 30 Years

Growing up in El Salvador, sisters Maria and Ana lived in constant fear. A gang had forcibly recruited the older sister by threatening to harm the younger sister. On top of that, both siblings suffered significant child abuse from a family member. The sisters fled the country and sought safety in the U.S. Once in the Chicago area, they were connected with the National Immigrant Justice Center, one of the many outstanding organizations you support through the Investing in Justice Campaign. NIJC’s staff spent extensive time earning the children’s trust and learning their story. With NIJC’s legal assistance, Maria and Ana were granted asylum and can now begin their recovery in the United States.

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February 24, 2017

Immigration Pro Bono Opportunities

Interested in learning more about the ever-changing landscape of immigration-related pro bono opportunities? Check out Illinois Legal Aid Online’s roundup of volunteer opportunities assisting Chicago’s immigrant and refugee populations. You can also get trained on deportation defense on Thursday, March 16, 1:00-5:30 at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

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February 23, 2017

Dina Merrell Elected to GCIR Board of Directors

Dina Merrell, Associate Director for the CBF, was recently elected to the Board of Directors for Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR), a national organization of foundations and grantmaking programs from throughout the country. Other new members joining the GCIR Board with Dina include Evan Bacalao from the Open Society Foundations, Shawn Morehead from the New York Community Trust, and Luna Yasui of the Ford Foundation. Congratulations, Dina!

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February 22, 2017

Eviction Court Name Change Legislation

The CBA and CBF are working with Representative Elgie Sims to spearhead legislation in Springfield (HB 3359) that simplifies the law governing evictions in Illinois by changing the confusing and archaic title of the Forcible Entry and Detainer Act and making other corresponding changes in the Act. By changing the name of the Act to […]

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February 21, 2017

Court Fees and Fines Reform Legislation

The CBF is part of a coalition of advocates working with legislators to reform Illinois’ byzantine system of court fees and fines in order to address barriers to access to justice associated with the fees and other court costs in civil, criminal, and traffic proceedings. One of the CBF’s legislative priorities this year is HB […]

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February 17, 2017

Newly Released: Grant Guidelines for Veteran and Military Family Hotline & Services

The centerpiece of the Access to Justice Act one of the CBF’s major legislative priorities the past three years is funding for a new legal hotline and network of services for Veterans and military families in Illinois. With the funding made possible by the Act now available for the new program, the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation has released their grant guidelines for organizations that want to apply to be part of the program. Grants are anticipated to be announced in the early summer.

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February 8, 2017

Have Opinions about Pro Bono?

The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice wants to hear from you on the pro bono survey they recently sent to all Illinois lawyers. The CBF is cosponsoring the survey with the Commission, the Illinois Bar Foundation, and the Public Interest Law Initiative. This survey is part of a national effort led by […]

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January 27, 2017

Hands off Chicago’s legal aid funding

In an op-ed for Crain’s Chicago Business, CBF President Chuck Smith and Executive Director Bob Glaves respond to recent talk of eliminating federal funding for the Legal Services Corporation.

“Wherever we stand politically, we all should take this opportunity to restore confidence that everyone will get a fair shake in the justice system. Ensuring that there is proper funding for LSC is a critical part of our collective charge. This is not a partisan issue: It is a part of who we are as a country.”

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January 24, 2017

Our Language Problem

If You See Something, Do Something!

As lawyers trained to worship at the altar of precedent, there are all kinds of bad habits we can pick up without even thinking about them. There of course are many legal principles we continue to follow today because they are critical underpinnings of our society that rightly have stood the test of time the rule of law and the fundamentals of our Constitution, for example. There unfortunately also is a lot of legal terminology and procedure that we continue to use today for a very different reason: because it is just the way we always have done it. And breaking out of that default pattern is one of the easiest steps we all can take right now to improve access to justice.

I got a great lesson on this early in my legal career.

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