News Tag: Legal Aid Organizations


May 13, 2016

Family Law Pro Bono with Incarcerated Mothers

Are you interested in helping families maintain stability and positive parent-child connections during a time of crisis? Want to learn more about family law?

Join the CLAIM (Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers) Program of Cabrini Green Legal Aid for their upcoming training on Saturday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at CGLA (740 N. Milwaukee Ave.). This training will focus on how to access Cook County Jail, short term guardianship, court ordered guardianship, divorce, custody, visitation, and general DCFS issues.

After the training, volunteer shifts can be completed any day of the week, 365 days a year, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. and do not require advance scheduling.

Register for the training through ILAO or email Alexis Mansfield with any questions.

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April 19, 2016

Reaching Beyond the Matter at Hand

Mary Ann Blakemore’s home was firebombed by her daughter’s boyfriend in a brutal attack that not only destroyed the elderly woman’s public housing apartment and nearly all her possessions, but left her hospitalized with third-degree burns. Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC) officials so dragged their feet in securing her a new apartment, that Mary Ann had no home once she was finally released from the rehabilitation center many months later. Fortunately, Mary Ann sought help from a fierce advocate the dedicated attorneys in LAF’s Housing Unit.

In March, nearly a year later, the case settled with Blakemore receiving a new apartment and financial aid to help replace her belongings. Moreover, HACC agreed to retrain its employees on fair housing law, including protections for domestic violence victims and residents with disabilities.

The legal victory is one of several that have made headlines recently for effecting both significant individual impact and a lasting impact on housing law in Chicago.

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February 29, 2016

CARPLS Legal Aid’s Emergency Room

The phone rings. I answer to a woman frantically telling me that DCFS still hasn’t released her daughter to her care. Her daughter was taken from her pending an investigation of neglected supervision. I have to interrupt her in the midst of her plea to tell her that we do not provide direct legal services at the CBF.

The scenario plays out several times a day. Someone’s fighting an eviction, another is fighting for their child. One person is looking to turn their life around by expunging a record. They can’t afford a lawyer, but they’re clearly in need of legal help. I can’t personally help them, but I give them the legal version of 911. I refer them to CARPLS, Cook County’s free legal aid hotline and one of the many outstanding organizations you are supporting through the Investing in Justice Campaign.

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January 26, 2016

CAASE Flips the Script on Sexual Exploitation

As a teenager, Joel ran away from a small, rural town in Michigan and eventually made his way to Chicago. At 21, he was addicted to crack cocaine and heroin. Fifty-seven arrests and six prostitution-related convictions later, Joel found himself off the streets and in prison.

It was difficult to see Joel as a victim at this point, but there was another side to his story. And legal aid would play a critical role in writing a new chapter.

Joel’s mom was murdered when he was three. He was sent to live with his mom’s family in Michigan, where he faced regular physical and sexual abuse. Growing up gay in an unwelcoming community only brought further abuse. He ran away from home as a teenager, ending up in Chicago in search of acceptance. Instead, he was introduced to crack cocaine and heroin by a pimp as a means to lead him into sex trafficking, and he suffered even more unimaginable abuse.

Somehow, during his time in prison, Joel found the strength and resilience to turn his life around against all the odds life had stacked against him. He got a GED degree, went to college, and worked his way up to a doctoral degree. But then, when he applied to get his professional license to take the next steps in his amazing revival, he ran into a legal brick wall due to his past contacts with the criminal justice system.

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December 16, 2015

I need legal aid, too

I need legal aid, too.

But not in the traditional sense. I am fortunate enough to have a home, a job, and good health. I need legal aid so that the community I live in functions better.

Shortly after I started at the CBF, I was tasked with penning the Campaign in Action blog series. The idea was simple: profile a legal aid organization supported through the CBF’s Investing in Justice Campaign, and give an overview of their legal aid services.

My background, I should note, is not in law, but journalism. I had never paid much attention to the legal system before, let alone legal aid.

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October 28, 2015

Pro Bono Myths and Realities: Legal Aid Organizations

Part 3 of a 7-part series

As noted in my prior post in this week’s special Pro Bono Week series, legal aid organizations play a critical partnership role in pro bono by providing the necessary infrastructure to support pro bono work for lawyers, firms and companies. There are a multitude of benefits for the legal aid organization and its clients when the organization has a top down commitment to pro bono and makes the proper investments in pro bono.

When a legal aid organization runs a good pro bono program, the direct services that volunteers provide are just one part of the benefit. That impact can multiply in many other ways and the potential benefits are almost limitless. But when a pro bono program is mediocre or worse, the opposite can occur. It not only might sour the attorneys and their firms on the organization, it could dampen their view of pro bono and legal aid in general.

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October 21, 2015

Unconventional Donations Find Many Grateful Homes

When we think of ways law firms can support our pro bono and legal aid community, we think of the big two financial support and pro bono attorney hours. But as Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom recently showed, support can take many forms, like in-kind contributions of equipment, supplies or services.

Several weeks ago, Skadden reached out to the CBF. After purchasing new equipment, the firm was getting rid of 40 high-speed, used but still perfectly-functioning printers. An email went to CBF grantee organizations and JEP participants. The response was swift and enthusiastic 13 pro bono and legal aid organizations and 6 JEP participants (and the CBF) each were thrilled to receive one or a few new printers.

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October 20, 2015

Bringing Justice to a Flawed System

We all have an obligation to treat other human beings as we want to be treated. Because someone made a mistake does not mean we should abandon them.

In a few wise words, Brian Nelson of Uptown People’s Law Center (UPLC) paraphrases the mission of the organization’s Pro Bono Prisoners Civil Rights Project, one of the many outstanding programs you are supporting through the Investing in Justice Campaign.

Hundreds of letters from inmates at surrounding prisons come across Brian’s desk every week many of them coming from partner law firms and organizations that receive these letters and forward them to UPLC. Every letter gets read, and every inmate gets a response. Many letters contain descriptions of human rights violations, such as overlooking inmate violence or letting injuries go untreated.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy for inmates to report abuse.

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September 17, 2015

Fighting for Renters’ Rights

Chicago has seen its highest percentage of renters in decades. Now the majority of Chicago residents, renters are often the victims of housing injustices, especially low-income renters.  While homeowners facing foreclosure have policies and laws in place to help ease their losses, there has been a gap for renters living in foreclosed buildings. They are […]

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July 23, 2015

Serving Seniors Where They Live

More than 40 million people in the U.S. are over the age of 65 today, and that number is expected to double by 2030. Many of these seniors are living on fixed incomes and struggle with legal issues related to caregiving, finances, their homes, and end-of-life planning. As they age, the accessibility of legal services can become as large a barrier to receiving help as affordability.

The Center for Disability and Elder Law (CDEL), one of the organizations you are supporting through the Investing in Justice Campaign, focuses on serving low-income elderly and disabled people in the Chicago area and has promising initiatives in place to better serve this population.

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