News Tag: Pro Se


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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November 8, 2018

Looking at the Court System through the Eyes of the People

To the say that the legal system looks daunting to someone who is not trained in the law and is often facing a serious legal issue when they arrive at the courthouse would be a vast understatement. And that is even more true at the Daley Center, perhaps the largest and busiest single courthouse in […]

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October 4, 2018

From Zero to Two Million and Counting

Back in 1999, when the initial conversations that led to what is now Illinois Legal Aid Online began, the idea that people would have access to and use the Internet to get legal information and resources—particularly low-income and disadvantaged people—was considered questionable at best. While it is hard to imagine now when virtually everyone has […]

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September 27, 2018

A Voice in the Court System for People without Lawyers

Pro se litigants may not have an advocate in the courtroom, but they have an advocate in the court system thanks to the efforts of the CBF and the Circuit Court of Cook County, who joined forces in 2009 to establish the Circuit Court Pro Se Advisory Committee.

The Committee works to improve coordination and effectiveness […]

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September 20, 2018

JusticeCorps Expands to the Criminal Court

Every year in Cook County, over one million criminal cases are filed. They range from low-level misdemeanors to serious felony charges, and everything in between. Most of these cases are heard at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse located at 2650 S. California in Chicago. Victims, family members, probationers, and the criminal defendants themselves churn […]

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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 13, 2018

Helping Ensure It’s Substance Over Form in the Courts

Forms go along with the court process like peanut butter goes with jelly. And when it comes to access to justice, well-designed court forms can be a welcoming and helpful resource for people without lawyers, or forms can be a huge barrier when they are complicated and full of legalese.

Prior to 2012, people in Illinois […]

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July 31, 2018

A Friendly Guide in the Courthouse Maze

Through the CBF’s work to make the courts more user-friendly and accessible for the growing number of people without lawyers, it became clear that court patrons often have a more immediate challenge than the legal issue that brought them there. People coming to court on their own often have a difficult time navigating a building […]

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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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