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Delivery of Legal Services Spotlight on pro bono

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.

Spotlight on Pro Bono: Why Pro Bono? Why Not!

Posted on February 9, 2018 by Sara Anderson

By Sandy L. Morris

Tired of answering “zero” hours of voluntary pro bono service on your annual attorney registration form? It’s time to think about why and how you can help the increasing numbers of self-represented litigants.  

If you were to ask the 31,972 Illinois attorneys who self-reported pro bono service in 2016 (the most recent year for which this information is available) why they logged those hours, you would probably get 31,972 different answers. The reasons for pro bono are as varied as they are personal. But attorneys who perform pro bono services often cite one or more of the following benefits:

Spotlight on Pro Bono: Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network Launches Statewide

Posted on December 5, 2017 by Sara Anderson

By Susan L. Zielke

November marked the official launch of a statewide hotline and network of civil legal services providers for veterans, service members, national guard, reservists, and their spouses and dependents. The hotline, 855-IL-AFLAN (855-452-3526), provides legal information and advice, brief services including the preparation and review of legal documents, and referrals to network partners. The hotline is staffed by attorneys who handle issues of discharge upgrades, benefits appeals, and civil legal problems like housing, consumer, and family.

The statewide network is using uniform eligibility guidelines of 80 percent of the Chicago Area Median Income; for a household of one, that figure is $44,250. Besides the hotline, the network includes CARPLS, Center for Disability & Elder Law, Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS), The John Marshall Law School, LAF, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance, Loyola Law School, Prairie State Legal Services, and SIU Law School. This network provides coverage for qualified individuals throughout the state.

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 deployed between 09/11/01 and 05/31/15 alone. The top civil legal needs include housing, family, and consumer issues, and specialized issues with VA benefits, appeals, and discharge upgrades.

Spotlight on Pro Bono: Use of Circle Process to Expand Access to Justice

Posted on April 11, 2017 by Sara Anderson

By Sandra Crawford, JD, Mediator, Collaborative Process Professional, Trained Circle Keeper

No matter where on this planet our ancestors hailed from, it is safe to say that at some point in history all of them sat around a fire either for heat, nourishment, storytelling, entertainment, community, support, and most likely to do some problem solving. From these ancient beginnings has grown what is now generally known as the Circle Process — a problem resolving or peacemaking model that can be used in a variety of settings for a variety of purposes. “The philosophy of Circle acknowledges that we are all in need of help and that helping others helps us at the same time." The Little Book of Circle Processes by Kay Pranis, page 6. (Hereinafter "the Little Book").

There are various types of circles. All share key elements and draw on indigenous tribal traditions mixed with contemporary concepts of democracy, inclusiveness, and multi-cultural integration. The shared key elements of all circles are: Ceremony, Guidelines, Talking Piece, Keeping/Facilitation, and Consensus/Decision Making. Briefly, the different types are:

Spotlight on pro bono: Limited scope representation - practical and ethical considerations

Posted on February 1, 2017 by Douglas Knapp

By John E. Brennock

It is an unfortunate fact that some people are unable to obtain legal representation because of limited financial resources or the inability to qualify for or obtain pro bono representation. Those people likely would benefit from at least some attorney involvement in their matter, but often are forced to proceed pro se, and without legal knowledge and training, struggling to successfully handle their legal problem.

Likewise, attorneys naturally want to engage clients who can pay for all of the services connected with a given legal matter. But when faced with a prospective client of limited financial means, attorneys either are forced to reduce their fees, risk nonpayment from a financially challenged client, or simply turn down the representation.

Limited scope representation1, when done correctly, may provide a workable solution to these problems. And for attorneys who want to offer pro bono representation but cannot commit to full representation because of financial or time constraints, limited scope representation can be utilized to provide at least some pro bono service for indigent prospective clients an attorney might otherwise turn away.

Spotlight on pro bono: Visit an elder during the holidays

Posted on December 13, 2016 by Morgan Yingst

By Susan L. DeCostanza | Director, Guardian ad litem for Adults Program

You may not have realized that you can visit an elder in your community and log pro bono hours at the same time, but you can. And the need for both is great! In Cook County, when a petition for guardianship of an adult is filed, the court will appoint a Guardian ad litem to complete an investigation in all cases in which the Respondent will not appear in court. The Guardian ad litem visits the Respondent at his or her residence, interviews the Respondent and ultimately reports back to the court regarding the results of the GAL investigation.

Spotlight on pro bono: Legal Answers

Posted on November 1, 2016 by Morgan Yingst

By Teri Ross, Program Director / Attorney, Illinois Legal Aid Online

Every year, tens of thousands of people in Illinois are forced to resolve their legal issues unassisted. On the one hand, they are unable to afford private legal counsel; on the other hand, they are unable to get help from the overburdened, underfunded legal aid system.

Pro bono is an important solution to this problem. October was national pro bono month, focused on recognizing the impactful contributions of pro bono attorneys and engaging more attorneys to help. Although there are more than 90,000 attorneys registered in Illinois, studies show that 60% or more of lower-income Illinoisans are forced to resolve their legal problems alone. Why the gap? Pro bono opportunities are limited by when, where, what and how they operate:

Celebrate Pro Bono - October 24-28

Posted on October 11, 2016 by Morgan Yingst

Celebrate Pro Bono Week October 24-28 with various programs and events across the state.

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.

Attend the Delivery of Legal Services Committee’s free CLE on October 13

Posted on September 13, 2016 by Morgan Yingst

By Marisa Wiesman, Director of Volunteer Services, Prairie State Legal Services

Are you looking for something to do on October 13? I thought so. The ISBA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services is pleased to invite you to its annual CLE in honor of Celebrate Pro Bono Week. This year’s CLE, Limited Scope Representation: When Less is More, will be held on October 13, 2016 from 12:50 pm - 4:45 pm. Participants may attend in person at the ISBA regional office in Chicago or via live webinar from the comfort of your desk. Registration is free to attorneys who agree to accept one pro bono matter in the next year.

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