Spotlight on Pro Bono: Celebrate Pro Bono Week October 20-26
By Michael G. Bergmann
Coordinated by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, Pro Bono Week is intended to inspire even greater pro bono participation by lawyers throughout the nation. This initiative provides an opportunity for legal organizations across the country to collaboratively commemorate the vitally important contributions of America’s lawyers and to recruit and train the many additional volunteers required to meet the growing demand. The Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service undertook this initiative to provide a format for showcasing the incredible difference that pro bono lawyers make to our nation, to our system of justice, to our communities and, most of all, to the clients they serve. For more information, visit www.celebrateprobono.org.
The ISBA has commemorated this national celebration each year by encouraging its members to perform pro bono and by recognizing those who meet the call. More information and resources from the ISBA on Pro Bono Week and pro bono in general can be found at www.isba.org/probono. Additionally, several years ago, the ISBA launched its Pro Bono Partner initiative, through which members commit to: (1) seek out the local pro bono legal services being supplied to individuals or charitable, religious or civic organizations in their community; (2) attend or support a recognition ceremony for those who participate in pro bono services in their community; (3) consider attending a training provided to lawyers who provide pro bono services; and (4) commit to joining the efforts to increase access to the legal system. You can learn more about this initiative at www.isba.org/probono/partner.
There are a lot of great programs and events happening across Illinois during this year’s celebration of Pro Bono Week. Many of these events, a good number of which are complimentary, are being organized by the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) through its Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees in partnership with Land of Lincoln Legal Aid, Prairie State Legal Services, Inc., other local organizations and local bar associations.
Saturday, October 19
- Sangamon County Expungement Summit
10 a.m., Memorial Center for Learning and Innovation, 228 West Miller Street in Springfield
The Sangamon County Summit is an opportunity for individuals to receive free legal consultations on their options for criminal records relief. Volunteers will prepare petitions to expunge and/or seal records for eligible participants to file in the appropriate circuit court.
Monday, October 21
- Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Inaugural DuPage County Spirit of Pro Bono Breakfast
8:30 a.m., Attorney Resource Center, DuPage Judicial Center, 505 North County Farm Road in Wheaton
The Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will showcase available pro bono opportunities and present the inaugural Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Service Award.
- Tenth Judicial Circuit Celebrate Pro Bono Reception
5:30 p.m., Caterpillar Visitors Center, 110 SW Washington Street in Peoria
The Tenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will recognize the efforts of Pro Bono Pledge Signatories and Pro Bono Service Award Recipients to expand and enhance access to justice in the Tenth Judicial Circuit. Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride will be the special guest speaker at this event.
Tuesday, October 22
- Eleventh Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Reception
5:30 p.m., Bell Tower Room at Epiphany Farms Restaurant, 220 East Front Street in Bloomington
The Eleventh Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will host a reception to recognize the efforts of local pro bono volunteers. Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman will be the special guest speaker at this event.
Wednesday, October 23
- Fifth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Celebration Dinner
5:30 p.m., Mattoon Golf & Country Club 6700 N Country Club Road in Mattoon
The Fifth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will recognize the efforts of Pro Bono Pledge Signatories and Pro Bono Service Award Recipients to expand and enhance access to justice in the Fifth Judicial Circuit. Illinois Appellate Court Justice Lisa Holder White will be the special guest speaker at this event.
Thursday, October 24
- Sixth Judicial Circuit CLE Program & Awards Presentation
11:30 a.m., Regent Ballroom, 1406 Regency Drive West in Savoy
The Sixth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee is holding a CLE entitled, “Assisting Elderly Clients & Their Families,” as well as presenting its Community Legal Services Award at this program.
- Third Judicial Circuit Celebrate Pro Bono Luncheon
11:45 a.m., Leclaire Room at Lewis and Clark Community College, 600 Troy Road in Edwardsville
The Third Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will recognize the efforts of Pro Bono Pledge Signatories and Pro Bono Service Award Recipients to expand and enhance access to justice in the Third Judicial Circuit. Leslie Corbett, Executive Director of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation and Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier will be the special guest speakers at this event.
- PILI Illinois Free Legal Answers Clinic
4 p.m., CVLS, 33 North Dearborn Street in Chicago
PILI Alumni and Young Professionals Board Members will gather together to learn how to use Illinois Free Legal Answers and answer 1-2 questions for those in need through this discrete pro bono opportunity.
Saturday, October 26
- Eleventh Judicial Circuit Legal Advice Fair
8:45 a.m., Mid Central Community Action, 1301 West Washington Street in Bloomington
The Eleventh Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee is once again co-sponsoring a Legal Advice Fair in Bloomington, where volunteer attorneys were available to give one-time legal advice concerning family issues, housing disputes, debt concerns and more.
- Explore the Possibilities: Public Interest Law Opportunities for Law Students
10 a.m., Chicago-Kent College of Law, 565 West Adams in Chicago
Looking to secure a legal aid, public interest law or government position during or after law school? This complimentary program is for law students who are interested in learning more about opportunities as volunteers, interns, externs, fellows or staff in the public interest law sector.
Thursday, October 31
- Sixth Judicial Circuit CLE
Noon, Macon County Courthouse, 253 East Wood Street in Decatur
The Sixth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee is co-hosting this CLE program with the Decatur Bar Association to prepare attorneys to volunteer at PILI’s Self-Represented Litigant Help Desk in the Macon County Courthouse.
Tuesday, November 12
- Celebrate Pro Bono Reception – Southern Illinois
5:30 p.m., Southern Illinois University School of Law, 1150 Douglas Drive in Carbondale
Join Dispute Resolution Institute, Land of Lincoln Legal Aid, PILI and SIU Law and for a reception to celebrate the outstanding pro bono work being performed by the Southern Illinois legal community and to learn about how you can do your part to help low-income individuals and families in need with their legal problems. Law students, legal professionals, members of the judiciary and lawyers are all invited to attend this complimentary reception.
Tuesday, November 19
Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Reception
5:30 p.m., Deere & Company World Headquarters, One John Deere Place in Moline
The Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will commemorate Pro Bono Week and recognize the efforts of pro bono volunteers to expand and enhance access to justice in the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit. Deere & Company General Counsel Mary Jones will be our special guest speaker.
Friday, November 22
- Twentieth Judicial Circuit Celebrate Pro Bono Luncheon
Noon, Doubletree, 1000 Eastport Plaza Drive in Collinsville
The Twentieth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will commemorate Pro Bono Week in conjunction with Land of Lincoln’s annual family law seminar. Attendees of the seminar as well as anyone who is interested in celebrating the outstanding pro bono work happening in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit are invited to attend. Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier will be the special guest speaker at this event.
Visit www.pili.org/pro-bono-week to learn more about any of these events or PILI’s Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees. Information about the Illinois Pro Bono Pledge, which has been launched in five of these Judicial Circuits and has over 120 signatories statewide, can be found at www.ILProBonoPledge.org. You may also contact PILI Managing Attorney Elizabeth Boe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-832-5125.
The ISBA Delivery of Legal Services Committee is also planning a daylong CLE program in Chicago on March 19, 2020 entitled “Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Clients.” More information about this program is available at www.isba.org/cle/upcoming.
Want to do a little pro bono to celebrate Pro Bono Week? The Illinois Bar Foundation has been a seminal supporter of Illinois Free Legal Answers. Administered in Illinois by PILI, Free Legal Answers is a secure website where lower income Illinois residents can ask a lawyer for help with a legal issue. Qualified users post questions about civil legal problems then volunteer lawyers log onto the site—pro bono anytime and anywhere you can access the website—and select questions to answer. It’s a virtual walk-in legal clinic and a great bite sized pro bono opportunity. Log on to il.freelegalanswers.org today, sign up and get started.