News Tag: Court Help Desks


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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September 18, 2018

Municipal Court Advice Desk Prepares and Empowers

Evictions. Contract disputes. Auto accidents. Debt collection. While some of these cases may seem small from the outside, they can be very high stakes for a low-income person going to court without an attorney to defend their housing, their financial security, or their business interests. These are the types of cases heard in the First […]

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September 7, 2018

A Life Changer for Children and Their Caregivers

Tuesday was the first day of school for thousands of Chicago Public School students. Imagine that you are caring for your grandchild because the child’s parents are not able to do so. You try to enroll your grandchild in school but the school refuses until you provide proof of guardianship. What is that? Where and […]

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July 16, 2018

Helping People Without Lawyers in the Courts

Each year, a growing number of people are forced to navigate the court system on their own, with the latest national statistics showing that in a shocking three out of four civil cases at least one party is unrepresented.

One of the CBF’s top priorities over the years has been helping to make the courts more user-friendly and accessible for these growing numbers of people without lawyers. An important part of these efforts has been the CBF’s work with a number of other partners to establish and support a network of advice desks in the state and federal courts.

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January 25, 2018

A Bittersweet End, A Solid Model for the Future

In the ongoing budget saga for the Cook County government, one of the unfortunate casualties has been the Circuit Court Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program, which officially ended in December when its funding was not renewed.

While there is no doubt the current budget challenges facing the County in the aftermath of its recent soda tax debacle are real, eliminating this successful program is a shortsighted move that will end up costing the County much more than it would to fund the program at its prior 2017 level. As we continue to evaluate whether there are other potential County funding options to restart the program, looking back on what made the program most effective over the past 7+ years offers a good model for developing effective court-based programs going forward.

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August 21, 2017

Navigating People Through the Maze of Bankruptcy

The Bankruptcy Court Self Help Assistance Desk, run by Legal Aid Chicago, does just what you would expect it to do helps clients file for bankruptcy as they seek relief from suffocating piles of debt. But as with bankruptcy itself, the full reality is much more complicated and the help much more far-reaching than that.

The Desk aids unrepresented filers at every point in the bankruptcy process, which can be daunting and complex. In Room 622 of the Dirksen Building, pro bono attorneys and lawyers from Legal Aid Chicago answer general questions about bankruptcy, help visitors decide if bankruptcy is their best option, and help prepare forms for people without lawyers in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The Desk eases the burden on the court by helping patrons evaluate their options before unnecessarily filing for bankruptcy. Each year, about 44,000 bankruptcy cases are filed in the Northern District of Illinois, the most in the country, so every bit of paperwork reduction helps the court run more efficiently. Launched in 2007 as a partnership with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Legal Aid Chicago and the CBF, the Desk is one of the many projects you make possible through the Investing in Justice Campaign.

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April 18, 2017

They can help you right next to the Starbucks€¦

I am writing this letter today to praise one of your employees€¦ begins a letter thanking CARPLS for excellent legal advice at the Municipal Court Advice Desk and highlighting the especially kind and supportive service received from an Illinois JusticeCorps member as part of the process. This court patron’s letter highlights the unique and important services being provided in The Circuit Court of Cook County Resource Center for People without Lawyers in the concourse level of the Daley Center, which indeed is right next to the Starbucks there.

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June 23, 2016

Which Way Is the Camera on Our Phone Facing?

A picture can paint a thousand words. And sometimes a good metaphor or analogy can have an even greater impact. I witnessed a great example of that a few weeks ago when Lisa Foster, the Director of the Department of Justice’s Office for Access to Justice, took out her smart phone and used it as a metaphor for the justice system as the frame for some really thought-provoking remarks.

Ms. Foster demonstrated how she could use the camera on her phone to point it one way and take a selfie, or turn it the other direction and take a picture of the people in front of her. In the justice system, she keenly noted, we take selfies. That is, we look at the system from the perspective of the lawyers, judges and court personnel who are inside of it, not from the perspective of the people who rely on the system for access to justice.

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May 19, 2016

25 Years a Lawyer

A few weeks ago the congratulations emails started to arrive in my inbox because this month marks my 25th anniversary as a lawyer. The emails weren’t coming from anyone I know, but from people trying to sell me mementos of the occasion.

While I have been very fortunate in my legal career and remain proud to be a lawyer today, I won’t be buying any of that stuff. As anniversaries often are though, it was a time to take stock of what has happened over the time since I took the plunge, and it specifically got me thinking about the trajectory of access to justice since those heady days when I got sworn in. So I thought I’d take a brief break from pontificating about the future of our cause to look back at where we’ve been and what we can learn from that going forward.

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May 18, 2016

Sharing Ideas, Strengthening Ties

A diverse group of more than 1,000 leaders and advocates from throughout the country and beyond came together in Chicago last week to exchange ideas, challenges and best practices for access to justice at the annual Equal Justice Conference. Co-sponsored by the American Bar Association and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, the conference was held in Chicago this year for the first time, giving an opportunity to showcase some of the great work happening here around these issues. The CBF helped to lead the local host committee co-chaired by John Levi and Lee Miller which presented local programming, hosted a gathering for conference attendees at Goose Island Brewery, and made it possible for more than 35 local legal aid advocates to attend without cost to their organizations.

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