News Tag: Courts


May 16, 2018

Illinois JusticeCorps Seeking Fellowship Applications

Illinois JusticeCorps is looking for applicants for full-time fellowship positions for the upcoming program year, August 2018 through August 2019.

Illinois JusticeCorps is an innovative AmeriCorps program through which college students and recent graduates provide procedural and other neutral assistance in the courts. Illinois JusticeCorps recruits, trains and provides the necessary support for these guides to make courts across Illinois more welcoming and less intimidating for people without lawyers.

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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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November 27, 2017

People Remember How You Made Them Feel, Part 2 – The Courts

In my September post, I used a famous Maya Angelou quote as food for thought on how lawyers can better serve their clients: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” That quote could be a downright call to action in the context of the courts and how people without lawyers experience the current system.

To put it mildly, we can do a lot better. And this is no academic exercise—it’s critical to the future of access to justice.

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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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February 21, 2017

Court Fees and Fines Reform Legislation

The CBF is part of a coalition of advocates working with legislators to reform Illinois’ byzantine system of court fees and fines in order to address barriers to access to justice associated with the fees and other court costs in civil, criminal, and traffic proceedings. One of the CBF’s legislative priorities this year is HB […]

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December 20, 2016

A New Year’s Resolution for the Legal Profession: Stop Calling People Non-lawyers!

Every once in a while I will read an article or hear a speech that causes me to recognize I’ve been acting like a fool in one way or another. And I am certain I have many more opportunities ahead of me for that kind of recognition. A great example of this phenomenon occurred for me not long ago when I heard Jordan Furlong, a very perceptive analyst of the legal market and the future of our profession, note that we are the only profession who describes everyone who is not one of us as a “non.”

He’s right. You don’t hear doctors calling everyone else in the medical field “non-doctors,” or CPAs calling their colleagues “non-CPAs.” In fact, it sounds absurd to even imagine them or any other professionals doing that. Yet that’s exactly what we do as lawyers, and I have certainly been guilty of my share of it over the years.

While I have no idea how we got started using the non-lawyer expression, and I don’t think it is something lawyers do with any ill will, it is pretty offensive when you think about it. And it betrays a shortsighted and artificially limiting mindset that has a number of negative consequences for access to justice, the future of our profession, and our public image as lawyers.

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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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June 20, 2016

Fees, Fines, & Other Barriers to Access to Justice

The Statutory Court Fee Task Force, created as part of the Access to Justice Act, has issued its findings, including legislative recommendations for addressing barriers to access to justice and additional issues associated with fees and other court costs in civil, criminal, and traffic proceedings. The report found, for example, that court fines and fees are constantly increasing and outpacing inflation.

Check out their recommendations and let us know what you think (ainzano@chicagobar.org or 312-554-4952), as they are likely to be among the CBF’s top legislative priorities for the coming year.

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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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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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