Our Blog

November 19, 2015

your campaign in action iconA Network of Help for Considerable South Suburban Need

Ford Heights, located in southern Cook County, was once pegged as America’s poorest suburb. Three of its neighboring towns now claim the highest suburban poverty rates in Illinois: Harvey, Robbins, and Chicago Heights, all of which fall within the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court’s Sixth Municipal District in Markham.

Markham is a busy courthouse with a large unmet need, and its compact space enhances that challenge. In fact, it is also the only district in Cook County that has additional court call locations in 12 village halls and police departments. For people without a lawyer to guide them through the process, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle.

Your support of the CBF Investing in Justice Campaign has helped build a network of court-based services in Markham that provide legal assistance to thousands in need for evictions, collections, and other matters.

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November 18, 2015

Take Action: Voice Your Support for Increased LSC Funding

With a recent agreement on the overall federal budget now signed into law, Congress will be finalizing details of next year’s budget over the next several weeks, including funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). Please thank President Obama, Senators Durbin and Kirk, and your member of Congress for their support of LSC funding and […]

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November 17, 2015

ADAPT Pro Bono Project

LAF’s newest pro bono project, ADAPT (Advance Directives and Property Transfers) for Seniors, connects low-income seniors to lawyers who will help them establish powers of attorney, living wills, and transfer on death instruments. If you are interested in receiving more information and participating in the first trainings to be scheduled, please contact Rachel Riemenschneider or visit the LAF website to submit a volunteer application.

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November 12, 2015

JEP Welcomes New Class

The Justice Entrepreneurs Project (JEP) began its sixth class of participants this week, bringing the program’s network to more than 50 lawyers who are currently participating in or have completed the program and remain part of the JEP network. The new participants, chosen through a competitive selection process, are:

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November 11, 2015

Examining Prosecutorial Discretion in Deportation

Prosecutorial discretion has long been part of our legal system, including in the immigration context. A case from the 1970s involving John Lennon marked the first time that the administration’s prosecutorial discretion policy became public knowledge, despite its use going back to past administrations. Today, the concept of prosecutorial discretion is more widely known in […]

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November 10, 2015

family at fall benefitThanks for Making this Year’s Fall Benefit a Big Success!

Thank you to everyone who made the 19th Annual Fall Benefit at The Field Museum a big success! Over 2,000 people from Chicago’s legal community came together on Saturday, November 7 to support and celebrate the CBF’s mission (alongside Sue!). The casual, family-friendly event featured tasty comfort food, unique kids’ activities, a sprawling silent auction, live music, open bar, complimentary parking, and access to the museum’s many popular exhibits, including the newest permanent exhibit, Cyrus Tang Hall of China, and special exhibit Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice AgePhotos from the event show smiles all around.

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November 6, 2015

Pro Bono Week 2015: Rise Above Your Narrow Confines

The Chicago Bar Association and the CBF co-sponsored the 11th Annual Pro Bono Week from October 26 to 30, 2015, with the theme Rise Above Your Narrow Confines. Olga Pribyl, vice president of the Special Education Clinic and Pro Bono at Equip for Equality, and Z. Scott, partner at Kaye Scholer LLP, co-chaired the Week.

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October 30, 2015

Pro Bono Myths and Realities: Final Thoughts

Part 7 of a 7-part series

Congratulations! We have reached the end of this weeklong Myths and Realities series on pro bono, and you deserve a gold star for hanging in for the whole series.

Over the course of Pro Bono Week, I’ve discussed pro bono from the vantage point of five key pro bono stakeholder groups: lawyers, firms and law departments; legal aid organizations; government; the courts; and bar associations, foundations, access to justice commissions and other systemic players. To protect the guilty, I have not always called out the myths surrounding each stakeholder, focusing instead on the realities and positive steps that each group can and should take to advance this cause. With a little imagination though, you probably can see where I believe the myths are in there by looking at the opposite of what I had to say, and what did not make my list at all.

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October 30, 2015

Pro Bono Myths and Realities: Bar Associations, Foundations, Access to Justice Commissions, and Other Systemic Players

Part 6 of a 7-part series

As we reach the end of this year’s Pro Bono Week, it is time to look in the mirror at ourselves and our colleagues in the bar/funder/access to justice commission world as the last key pro bono stakeholder to discuss this week. While each of the other key players discussed earlier in this week’s series lawyers, firms and law departments; legal aid organizations; government; and the courts have distinct roles to play in the pro bono landscape, none of them operate in a vacuum. Bar associations, funders, commissions and other systemic players are well-positioned make all of the other key stakeholders more efficient and effective when we do our jobs well.

In carrying out our systemic responsibilities, there are several key things those of us with this vantage point can do to make pro bono the best it can be.

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October 29, 2015

Pro Bono Myths and Realities: The Role of the Courts

Part 5 of a 7-part series

Court-based pro bono programs that address the needs of unpresented litigants can be an effective part of the larger strategy to ensure that the justice system is fair, accessible and efficient for all. There are a variety of successful court-based program models, including help desks that provide brief advice and services; lawyer for the day or other limited service appointments such as representation in mediation or settlement hearings; and panels of lawyers who provide extended representation to litigants in particular types of civil and criminal cases.

While pro bono volunteers can and do provide important assistance in ensuring access to the courts, they are not a substitute for robust and properly funded legal aid and public service entities or for a user-friendly and accessible court system. When designed and implemented well, however, these programs can provide an important supplement to these efforts in a way that is a win-win for all stakeholders.

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