News Tag: Courts


May 23, 2019

The Affordability Action Plan

Over the course of the past several months, I’ve used this blog to discuss four big issues our legal profession needs to address to carry out my 2019 Resolution: to tackle our affordability problem for everyday people. The common denominator on these issues is that the solutions to making legal services more affordable and accessible to the middle class are almost entirely within our power as a profession and court system. 

To paraphrase a famous saying, we have met the enemy, and it is us. The following, interconnected action plan can help us defeat that enemy and strike a major blow for access to justice in the process.

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April 26, 2019

What Do Courts Have to Do with the Affordability of Legal Services?

Quite a lot, as a matter of fact. The fundamental mission of the courts is to deliver justice for all by protecting rights and liberties, upholding the rule of law, and serving as fair and neutral arbiters to resolve disputes. Promoting affordable legal representation is a central part of fulfilling that mission, yet some of the key steps to doing so are too often overlooked by courts today.

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April 24, 2019

Illinois JusticeCorps Seeking Fellowship Applications

Illinois JusticeCorps is looking for applicants for full-time fellowship positions for the upcoming program year, August 2019 through August 2020.

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 17, 2019

Steeped in History But Forward-Looking: Making the Courts Work for Everyone

Courts are, by design, backward-looking institutions. Lawyers and judges rely on case law from bygone decades. Clerks hand out paper forms sprinkled with ancient Latin phrases. The black robes, the gavels, and the rituals are steeped in history and tradition.

By choice, however, courts can also be forward-looking institutions. A foundational role in American society does […]

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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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December 21, 2018

Improving the Pro Bono Experience in Federal Court

Federal court may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of pro se litigants, but every year, hundreds of people without lawyers file cases in the Northern District of Illinois. The vast majority of those cases are filed by prisoners seeking relief from allegedly substandard conditions or poor treatment in […]

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December 18, 2018

The Battle Over Cy Pres Awards

In settling class actions, there is a recurring practical problem: what to do with undistributed settlement funds? That question has now reached the U.S. Supreme Court, and was the topic of a spirited panel discussion last month hosted by the CBA Class Action Committee and the CBF: The Future of Cy Pres After the Supreme Court: Perspectives from Academia, the Bar, and the Bench.

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December 7, 2018

The Price of Admission to the Courts: Tackling a Barrier to Access to Justice

The events in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 and their aftermath shined a national spotlight on an access to justice issue that too often was previously below the radar: the undue burden that court fees and fines can present for low-income and disadvantaged members of the community.

Illinois already was ahead of the game in recognizing these […]

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December 4, 2018

Guiding the Gatekeepers

Often, when a person goes to court without a lawyer, the first person they interact with will be a court clerk. Clerks often serve as the gatekeepers of the court, playing a pivotal role any time a litigant tries to file a document, request a court order, check in for a hearing, or pay a […]

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November 30, 2018

It was 6 ½ Years Ago Today…

Granted, that is not as catchy as the Beatles’ lyrics in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. But in access to justice circles, it was a pretty big deal.

It was June 13, 2012, to be exact, when the Illinois Supreme Court entered the order creating the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice, and […]

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