News Tag: Pro Se


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 Legal Aid Chicago, 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 Legal Aid Chicago 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, Legal Aid Chicago and the CBF, the Desk is one of the many projects you make possible through the Investing in Justice Campaign.

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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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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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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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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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August 1, 2014

The Municipal Court Advice Desk

One of the most impactful programs donors to the Investing in Justice Campaign are making possible is the Municipal Court Advice Desk in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The Municipal Desk operates on an annual budget of approximately $300,000, half of which comes from Investing in Justice Campaign donors and the other half of which is matched by Cook County through a contract with the CBF that was just renewed by the County Board for three more years.

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March 4, 2014

Recent Cy Pres Awards Support Continued Innovation in Access to Courts

Cy pres awards have made possible a number of successful court-based projects and other innovative initiatives over the past several years by providing the seed funding and enabling the CBF to provide ongoing support for these efforts. As one notable example, these awards have made it possible for the CBF to launch and help provide the ongoing funding for a growing network of advice desks in the state and federal courts.

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