Our Blog


December 26, 2018

Community Leadership in Times of Crisis

Over the course of our 70-year history, one of the CBF’s hallmarks has become community leadership in times of crisis and emerging issues for access to justice. The great recession of 2008, and the swelling numbers of homeowners facing foreclosure in the associated housing crisis, was a particularly important example.

Growing numbers of foreclosures had already […]

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December 21, 2018

Improving the Pro Bono Experience in Federal Court

Federal court may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of pro se litigants, but every year, hundreds of people without lawyers file cases in the Northern District of Illinois. The vast majority of those cases are filed by prisoners seeking relief from allegedly substandard conditions or poor treatment in […]

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December 20, 2018

2019 Resolution—Time to Tackle our Affordability Problem for Everyday People

Lawyers often joke that they couldn’t afford themselves if they ran into a serious legal problem. While that is (usually) an exaggeration when a lawyer says it, it reflects a reality we all know to be true for most people in our community. It was not always like this, but somewhere along the way our profession managed to price the proverbial “regular guy” out of the market for most legal services.

As lawyers, we like to think of ourselves as problem solvers. This time the problem is us, and in 2019 we all need to make it a priority to solve it.

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December 20, 2018

Helping to Incubate Pro Bono and Legal Aid

As we celebrate the CBF’s 70th Anniversary, we have been looking back on many of the long-standing partnerships we have with pro bono and legal aid organizations in the Chicago area. Throughout our history, the CBF has played a critical role in many new organizations getting off the ground by providing inaugural grant funding, which […]

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December 18, 2018

The Battle Over Cy Pres Awards

In settling class actions, there is a recurring practical problem: what to do with undistributed settlement funds? That question has now reached the U.S. Supreme Court, and was the topic of a spirited panel discussion last month hosted by the CBA Class Action Committee and the CBF: The Future of Cy Pres After the Supreme Court: Perspectives from Academia, the Bar, and the Bench.

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December 14, 2018

CBF Staff Share a Common Passion for Justice

Over the course of 70 years, the CBF has gone through quite an evolution to become the organization it is today one focused on improving access to justice through grants, community leadership, and policy advocacy in the courts and legislative process. For nearly half of the CBF’s existence, there was no need for staff offices […]

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December 13, 2018

Educational Debt and Access to Justice: An Increasingly Toxic Brew

We occasionally get the question: why do you work on student debt reform isn’t the CBF’s advocacy focused on improving access to the justice system? In fact, mounting student loan debt in the United States is directly related to access to justice, and addressing it is a key strategy in leveling the playing field in […]

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December 11, 2018

Sharing the JEP’s (Not So) Secret Keys to Success

The goal of the CBF Justice Entrepreneurs Project has always been twofold. First and most obviously, we want to increase access to affordable legal services for low and middle-income people and businesses in the Chicago area through the direct efforts of the lawyers in the JEP network.

The second aim of the JEP has always been to […]

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December 7, 2018

The Price of Admission to the Courts: Tackling a Barrier to Access to Justice

The events in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 and their aftermath shined a national spotlight on an access to justice issue that too often was previously below the radar: the undue burden that court fees and fines can present for low-income and disadvantaged members of the community.

Illinois already was ahead of the game in recognizing these […]

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December 6, 2018

Leading By Example

Law firms and corporations play an integral role in the CBF and the larger cause of equal access to justice in many ways. Before 2008, however, our community lacked the means to recognize those firms and companies who embody best practices in their leadership and comprehensive support for the cause.

Then, as now, firms and companies […]

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