News Tag: Court Help Desks


August 21, 2017

Navigating People Through the Maze of Bankruptcy

The Bankruptcy Court Self Help Assistance Desk, run by LAF, 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 LAF 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, LAF 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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March 22, 2016

Recent Cy Pres Award Will Help Advance Access to Justice

The CBF recently received a cy pres award of more than $43,000, the result of residual funds remaining in a class action settlement reached in Murray et al v. Bill Me Later, Inc.  In this case in the Northern District of Illinois, McGuire Law, P.C. represented the plaintiff class and Sidley Austin LLP represented the defendant.

“While […]

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November 19, 2015

A 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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January 20, 2015

A Year of Impact That You Made Possible

CBF Report January 2015

A Year of Impact That You Made Possible

Thanks to your generous support of the CBF, 2014 saw impressive progress in the fight to make the justice system more fair and accessible for everyone in our community. You can be proud of the impact you are making through your Foundation. Below are just a few highlights, and you can learn more about this important work and how you can get more involved by visiting chicagobarfoundation.org. Thank you again for coming together with your colleagues from throughout the legal community to make a difference.

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October 3, 2014

What Can We Help You With Today?

CBF Report September 2014

What Can We Help You With Today?

This is the phrase heard over and over in the concourse level of the Daley Center, as court patrons visit the new Circuit Court of Cook County Resource Center for People Without Lawyers. The Center is a major milestone in the longer-term effort to make the court system more user-friendly and accessible for people without lawyers, a key goal of both the CBF and the Circuit Court.

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September 18, 2014

New Referral Pad for People without Lawyers

In August 2014, the CBF printed an updated version of our Referral Pad for People without Lawyers at the Daley Center. Email Kelly Tautges at ktautges@chicagobar.org for copies. Updated versions for Markham and Rolling Meadows will be available soon.

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