2013 – Erica Spangler Raz
Erica Spangler Raz has dedicated her entire legal career to public interest work. For the first five years of her career, she successfully balanced two part-time jobs, both at legal aid organizations. At CARPLS, Erica provided legal consultations and brief legal services through CARPLS’ legal aid hotline as well as at the Collection Advice Desk and Municipal Court Advice Desk in the Daley Center. At the same time, she provided a vast array of transactional services to community-based organizations through her work at The Law Project.
In 2012, The Law Project was able to offer Erica a full-time position as a staff attorney and coordinator of The Law Project’s signature Nonprofit Legal Assessment Program. Erica’s work primarily involves providing services to Chicago-based community organizations, neighborhood development projects, and social service agencies to help them build internal capacity in regulatory compliance, fiscal oversight, and personnel and corporate governance. A significant component of her job also entails training and advising the hundreds of volunteer attorneys that provide assistance to nonprofits through The Law Project. Most recently, Erica developed and oversees the Emerging Nonprofit Certificate Training Program, which provides essential information to individuals interested in starting nonprofits. Not only does Erica’s work directly benefit the nonprofits she assists, but it also has a far-reaching impact on the communities these nonprofits serve, which benefit from the creation of jobs, millions of dollars in economic activity, more affordable housing, increased social and community services, and immeasurable goodwill.
Erica’s staunch commitment to public service began when she was a law student at DePaul University College of Law. She started volunteering for CARPLS’ legal aid hotline advising tenants facing eviction and later worked as a senior law student in DePaul’s Community Development Clinic, where she counseled and provided services to clients on matters such as nonprofit entity formation, fiduciary duties, and annual filing responsibilities. Following her graduation in 2006, Erica was hired by CARPLS as a staff attorney. She then joined The Law Project in 2007. Prior to law school and while attending DePaul’s part-time program, Erica worked as a marketing coordinator for a financial software group.
As a result of her extraordinary efforts and accomplishments advocating for low-income individuals and families, Erica was awarded a CBF Sun-Times Public Interest Law Fellowship in 2013, a financial award that will help meet her law school loan obligations. “It’s a true honor to be awarded the Sun-Times Fellowship and I’m so grateful. Had I not received this fellowship, I would make my final loan payment after my infant son graduated from college. Now half will be paid in five years. Thank you for this fellowship, which I hope to continue to deserve.”