CVLS is an organization of over 2,300 volunteer attorneys who donate free legal services to thousands of low-income Chicagoans. Our services are free, accessible and real.
With 24 legal clinics across the Chicago area, hosted evenings and weekends at community organizations and churches, where you can talk with an attorney about your legal problem, CVLS works to ensure that everyone has access to justice, not just those who can afford it.
Arnie and his wife asked his brother to co-sign a mortgage so they could buy a house. Unfortunately, they couldn’t manage the payments and the home went into foreclosure. Arnie desperately wanted to leave the property and protect what was left of his brother’s credit but the bank wouldn’t talk to him. Then his attorney, Sal Lopez, got involved. Within a matter of weeks Sal negotiated a deed in lieu of foreclosure. For Arnie, it was as if the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders.
Monique was a responsible driver—she had insurance. Unfortunately, her insurance company wasn’t as responsible. When she was in an accident, they filed suit against her to cancel the contract, claiming she’d lied on her application by failing to identify her boyfriend’s vehicle. Monique lived with and cared for her boyfriend’s mother. While her boyfriend’s car was stored at the house, it had not been operable for some time nor did her boyfriend live there. Luckily, Monique had a good attorney to fight the insurance company -- Elaina Emerick Andrade. Elaina conducted discovery. After her client’s deposition, the insurance dropped their case and agreed to fulfill their obligations to Monique.
In 2003, CVLS represented Synola when she adopted her three grandchildren. She came back for help last year after their biological father died. The children saw their dad from time to time and he’d helped financially. After he died, Synola applied for his pension benefits on behalf of the children. The board denied the application, saying that he was not their legal father because of the adoption. Eleni Katsoulis challenged the decision and argued it before the pension board. She won. The children get pension benefits until their 18th birthdays, including two retroactive years.
Larry was living with his grandparents
because of his mom’s drug problems. Mom
fought her habit with treatment, therapy and a
Despite a few missteps along the way, she got clean and petitioned to regain custody of her son. The Court appointed CVLS as GAL.
After volunteers Rawn Reinhard and Aidan Gilbert verified that mom was well into recovery, employed, and with a supportive husband, they crafted a therapist-approved schedule to increase visitation and transition Larry to his mother’s custody over the course of a year. Now Larry lives with his mother, stepfather and new baby brother while enjoying frequent visits with his grandparents.
CVLS was appointed GAL after Alcelia
petitioned for guardianship of her 86-year
old grandmother Ruth. Karen Callahan
visited Ruth at Alcelia’s home and saw her
happy, comfortable and safe. Although Karen
recommended guardianship, Alcelia had a
criminal history and the court had to determine
Alcelia’s fitness to serve as guardian.
Alcelia testified about life with her abusive, alcoholic mother. At age 12, Alcelia was on the streets, working as a prostitute, in and out of prison. Clean and sober since 2007, Alcelia said that Ruth had cared for Alcelia’s children during that time and should not spend her last years in a nursing home.
Alcelia was proud and happy when the court appointed her guardian. She will make sure that Ruth’s final years are good.
A victim of domestic violence, Lithuanian native Jurgita had been living in the U.S. on a u-visa.
After three years, she wanted to become a permanent resident. CVLS volunteer Renae Yoo, made it happen, proving that her client qualified for a green card. Jurgita cried when she discovered she was able to stay in America for good. It meant she could finally visit her family in Lithuania assured that she would be welcome back into her new country.
Together, Charles and his sister took out a home improvement loan to repair the family home.
The sister paid the loan until she moved out of state. Charles, elderly and on a fixed income, could not afford the payments by himself. His attorney, Erik Diggs, negotiated an affordable payment plan and makes sure that Charles makes his payment, on time, every month.
Hui was driving a loaner car because his had been damaged while parked.
When his loaner car was stolen from a secure parking garage, the rental company demanded $26,000. CVLS volunteer Roenan Patt reviewed Illinois law and the car rental agreement. Then he sent the plaintiff a letter explaining that both the law and the contract limited his client’s liability to $2,000. Hui never hear from the plaintiff again.
Nine year old Nicole had always lived with her grandmother, Mariela, in an apartment with her aunt and uncle right next door.
Last Christmas, Mariela’s adoption of Nicole was final. Now Nicole has Mariela’s last name. For Mariela and Nicole, their attorney Sandy Morris gave them the best Christmas present ever.