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Delivery of Legal Services Spotlight on pro bono

Spotlight on Pro Bono: Statewide Online Access to Free Legal Services

Posted on June 18, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

By Beverly A. Allen

In 2012, Legal Service Corporation awarded a Technology Initiative Grant to Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, now Land of Lincoln Legal Aid, and its project partners, Prairie State Legal Services, Legal Assistance Foundation, Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO), and PSTI to develop a statewide online access system, which would serve as a virtual entryway to the Illinois legal services delivery system. Land of Lincoln Legal Aid serves 65 counties in central and southern Illinois. Prairie State Legal Services serves 36 counties throughout northern and central Illinois. Legal Assistance Foundation serves all of Cook County. ILAO developed a statewide legal services website that serves advocates and self-represented litigants in the state of Illinois by providing access to legal information. The award-winning website functions as a search engine for people to find information and assistance related to their legal problems. PSTI is a company that developed the cloud-based case management software program, Legal Server, that is utilized by the three legal service project partners to manage their cases.

Spotlight on Pro Bono: The Public Interest Law Initiative’s Statewide Pro Bono Programs

Posted on May 14, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

Spotlight on Pro Bono: The Public Interest Law Initiative’s Statewide Pro Bono Programs

The Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) is a nonprofit organization based in Chicago, with offices in Peoria and Champaign. PILI’s mission is to engage, inspire, and empower those advancing equal access to justice. PILI envisions making equal access to justice a reality through a legal community with a deeply rooted culture of service, where pro bono and public interest law engagement is optimized to best serve people, families, and communities in need. 

Spotlight on Pro Bono: Pro Bono Programs in Alternative Dispute Resolution in Illinois

Posted on March 20, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

By Sandra Crawford

Did you know…

1. McHenry County Bar Association (MCBA) in 2001 started training and supplying volunteers to mediate pro se cases in the small claims court. Since it was established “our program has been successful beyond our wildest dreams, has eliminated untold small claims trial hours, has provided training and experience to a number of aspiring mediators, and most importantly, has sent more than a thousand small claims litigants home feeling satisfied that they had been fairly treated by the court system,” says the program’s founding member and full-time mediator, H. Case Ellis of Crystal Lake.

Spotlight on Pro Bono: First Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Family Mediation Program

Posted on February 19, 2019 by Rhys Saunders

By Missy Greathouse

Dispute Resolution Institute, Inc. (DRI) has provided pro bono family mediation services to the first judicial circuit for the last nine years and is the only pro bono mediation organization available to the courts and families in southern Illinois.

Spotlight on Pro Bono: The 17th Judicial Circuit Court’s Domestic Violence Pro Bono Order of Protection Project

Posted on November 26, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

By Wendy Hinton Vaughn

November is the time of year when we take time to reflect and give thanks for all the things for which we are grateful.  I am grateful for the innovative programs of the 17th Judicial Circuit’s Domestic Violence Coordinated Courts (DVCC) and wish to shine a light on the great work done by the Domestic Violence Pro Bono Order of Protection Project.

The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women has recognized the 17th Judicial Circuit’s DVCC as one of 13 national mentor courts.  The DVCC has developed a number of projects and practices designed to enhance informed judicial decision-making, hold perpetrators of violence accountable, and increase safety for survivors of abuse.  

Spotlight on Pro Bono: Celebrate Pro Bono Week October 21-27

Posted on October 3, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

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

Spotlight on Pro Bono: Turn ‘Bored’ into ‘Board’

Posted on September 4, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

If summer’s end has you feeling a little restless, consider expanding your personal and professional lives by joining a nonprofit board of directors. Illinois has over 35,000 registered charities, covering any cause you can think of – from providing job training for people with autism to promoting African dance as an agent for positive change. If you have a closely held belief or a passion for a particular purpose or mission, there is undoubtedly an Illinois nonprofit for you to support. Support comes in a multitude of ways, from financial contributions to volunteering to raising awareness. 

Spotlight on Pro Bono: Pro Bono Assistance for Illinois Veterans, Active Duty Military

Posted on July 30, 2018 by Rhys Saunders

The Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN) provides civil legal services across Illinois to veterans, active duty military, spouses, and dependents. In Illinois, there are approximately 750,000 veterans, 20,000 active service members, and 13,000 members of the Illinois National Guard. There are over 20,000 dependents of service members who were deployed between Sept. 11, 2001, and May 31, 2015. The top civil legal needs of this population include housing, family, and consumer law issues, as well as assistance with VA benefits and appeals, and discharge upgrades.

Spotlight on Pro Bono: Another Alternative For Free Legal Services In Southern Illinois

Posted on April 11, 2018 by Sara Anderson

By Beverly A. Allen 

The Neighborhood Law Office, is just that — a law office that serves the legal needs of its neighbors. The Neighborhood Law Office (NLO) provides free legal services to low income residents in St. Clair County and its surrounding counties. Implemented in 1996, Kathleen O’Keefe, a former staff attorney at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc., was its first director. NLO falls under the auspices of Catholic Urban Programs (CUP). CUP was founded in 1973 as a department of the Catholic Diocese of Belleville and has provided charity services throughout Southern Illinois for over 40 years. The mission of CUP and NLO is to advance the dignity of the human person through compassionate responses to human needs, advocacy for justice, and to empower individuals and families to reach their full potential by ensuring access to justice for their clients. 

Pilot Pro Bono Conflicts Panel Launches in the 10th Circuit

Posted on March 8, 2018 by Sara Anderson

By Marisa Wiesman 

There are, literally, millions of people who qualify for free civil legal aid in Illinois. But once you venture outside of Cook County, there are only a handful of organizations dedicated to providing free civil legal aid to people who cannot afford an attorney. In all but a few counties, there is just one organization that provides these services. When that organization is unable to help someone due to a conflict of interest, that low-income person usually has nowhere else to turn for legal help. These conflicts are not limited to family law matters. Conflicts arise across the range of issues legal aid organizations handle, including housing, consumer, and public benefits matters.

The 10th Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee and its members have partnered to pilot an innovative pro bono project to address this justice gap in Marshall, Peoria, Stark, and Tazewell counties. When Prairie State Legal Services (the civil legal aid organization that serves the 10th Judicial Circuit) is unable to assist an applicant due to a conflict of interest, Prairie State can now refer that applicant to the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI). PILI will assess the applicant’s eligibility and conduct an intake, and try to place the case with a local pro bono attorney for assistance. While some parts of the state have attempted small-scale, informal pro bono conflicts panels in the past, this project is unique in that it provides formal eligibility screening, intake, and referral processes, as well as malpractice coverage for volunteers.