2020 – Martin Cozzola
Martin can trace the origins of his strong commitment to public service back to his childhood. The son of a psychologist and a long-time legal aid attorney, Martin’s parents instilled in him the belief that we are all responsible to improve society. His career in public service is a natural extension of this belief. A graduate of the University of Michigan, Martin committed much of his college years to volunteerism. After college, he served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for Habitat for Humanity in rural New Jersey. This experience had a profound impact on him as he witnessed both what it is was like to live in poverty and the impact a safe and stable home can have on those living in poverty. It was these experiences that influenced his decision to attend Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law.
While at Maurer, Martin sought out every available public interest opportunity, and he received two public service awards upon graduation. However, it was his summer internship at Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) that cemented his passion for helping Chicago’s most vulnerable populations. Martin’s passion and commitment did not go unnoticed, CVLS hired him as a staff attorney in 2015 to assist people facing foreclosure, including complicated cases in Probate Court that involved deceased homeowners.
In 2017, Martin was named project leader for CVLS’ new Veterans Pro Bono Program, part of the statewide Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN). In this role, Martin works with an intake team to conduct interviews with veterans from all over Chicago and the world. Thus far, Martin has handled over 280 referrals from the IL-AFLAN hotline. Many of his veteran clients are elderly, disabled and suffer from trauma. Together with an army of CVLS volunteer attorneys, Martin ensures that these veterans get the legal representation they deserve. With his passion, integrity and skill, Martin is the epitome of the kind of attorney Kimball and Karen had in mind when they created this fellowship.