Over the last 50 years, CVLS has built a strong relationship with Chicago’s court system and judges. Judges in Probate, Chancery and Domestic Relations appoint CVLS to represent parties in complex litigation and to serve as guardian ad litem for children or disabled adults.

These cases demand special training and close, one-on-one supervision from CVLS staff attorneys.

Domestic Relations Child Representative

CVLS is appointed by Domestic Relations and Parentage judges to serve as child’s representative when parents cannot afford attorneys. As a child rep, you investigate the issues and parties, negotiate with the parties, enlist and recommend outside services when appropriate and advocate for the child in and out of court. These children, the subject of difficult, often bitter disputes in court, need advocates and the Court needs an independent, objective, experienced attorney to help it navigate conflicting versions of the children’s best interests.

Guardian Ad Litem For Minors

CVLS accepts appointments from the Circuit Court of Cook County to serve as GAL for children in contested or problematic guardianship cases. As the child’s GAL, trained volunteer attorneys investigate the issues and parties, report to the court on the child’s best interests, and represent the child throughout the case. The attorney serves as the child’s independent pro bono legal counsel, advocating in and out of the court on behalf of the child’s best interests. Investigating all aspects of what often amounts to an unfavorable or even abusive environment, our volunteer GALs provide and objective recommendation to the court as to the safest, most supportive environment for the child.

Guardian Ad Litem For Disabled Adults

Appointed by Probate Court judge, GALs serve the best interests of adults who are alleged, but not yet proven, to be disabled or of persons already adjudicated.

A guardianship case handled by a pro bono GAL typically involves a developmentally disabled or mentally ill adult living with family or in a group home. It may also involve a physically and mentally disabled adult confined to a nursing home. These people have limited or no assets.

Volunteer GALs meet with the disabled adult wherever they reside, review medical reports, interview health care personnel, facilitate negotiations, provide a written report and recommendation to the court, and in some cases advocate that recommendation at a hearing.

Access to Justice

CVLS is appointed by judges to represent low-income individuals representing themselves in Cook County Chancery Court litigation, such as mortgage foreclosure defense litigation, including mortgage fraud and predatory lending; the appeal of administrative decisions; declaratory judgments and injunctions. Interesting and often complex, Chancery Court litigation offers volunteers excellent and meaningful litigation experience.

Foreclosure Mediation

While the number of foreclosure filings is down, homeowners in client communities, where the economic recovery lags, are still struggling.

The Circuit Court of Cook County Foreclosure Mediation Program was created in response to the foreclosure crisis. Judges appoint CVLS to represent homeowners who want to mediate their foreclosure cases. Volunteer attorneys are taught foreclosure and loan modification laws and regulation and trained to represent homeowners in mediation.

Community Legal Clinics

Community organizations and churches host CVLS legal clinics around the city. Volunteers meet with potential clients for a few hours after work or on a weekend every few months, and provide follow up services as necessary. Each clinic is staffed by a veteran volunteer, aided by CVLS’ full-time clinic coordinator.

Some of CVLS’ clinics are staffed exclusively by attorneys and paralegals from one law firm. Firms that “adopt” clinics decide the types of cases their attorneys will handle and set their own schedules. Their attorneys get excellent, wide-ranging experience and clients get expert legal assistance. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Panel Referral Program

If you’d rather do your pro bono exclusively from your office, don’t worry. CVLS staff will find the perfect case for you. All you have to do is tell us which case types you want and go online to “shop” for your own pro bono opportunity. These opportunities are listed by case type and level of complexity-simple, intermediate and expert. Pick a case and you’ll get complete information about it, including relevant documents, along with useful training materials.

Case Work Involves:

  • Adoption
  • Bankruptcy
  • Collection defense and consumer issues
  • Family law, including divorce, parentage, custody, visitation and child support
  • Eviction, (representing a tenant or low income landlord)
  • Probate, including disabled adult guardianship, advance directive and small estates
  • Tort defense