Volunteer Recognition Award Winners

Monday, December 22, 2014

We'd like to say a huge thank you to ALL our volunteers - you make CVLS possible! 



Barbara Burns, Visitation Church Legal Clinic

A volunteer of over 20 years, Barbara Burns has taken on an extraordinary number of CVLS cases. A former kindergarten teacher, she is perfectly suited to taking on family law cases with the GAL for Minors Program. In addition to her work as a panel volunteer, Barbara has consistently helped staff the Visitation Church Legal Clinic near Englewood, a critical area of the city. 

Playing so many different roles as a CVLS volunteer, Barbara handles an enormous range of cases, from custody disputes and divorces with the panel and GAL for Minors programs to the various legal issues that arise at a clinic including wills and estates, real estate and housing matters. 


Lucero Cervantes, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP Legal Clinic

As the Executive Assistant to the Executive Director of Erie Neighborhood House, Lucero Cervantes assisted this year in coordinating CVLS’ Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP Legal Clinic, which Erie House hosts. Lucero is a major reason for the clinic’s recent successes. 

She facilitates an amazing number of cases throughout the year, primarily involving custody and visitation for Latino clients. Lucero’s work with the Drinker Biddle clinic, in strengthening low-income families in her community through providing access to critical services, exemplifies the ideals of both CVLS and Erie House.


Olivia Cheng, Chinese American Service League Chinatown Legal Clinic

Olivia Cheng, an attorney at the Law Offices of Peter Y. Qiu, has worked on a number of Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program cases in addition to volunteering consistently at CVLS’ Chinese American Service League Chinatown Legal Clinic on Saturdays. 

Olivia’s regular practice focuses on business and real estate transactions, immigration matters and familial cases including divorces. Her passion and deep respect for Chicago’s Chinese communities shine through in her efforts with CVLS; the clinic’s chair says of Olivia, “CASL feels very lucky to have her as a volunteer.”


Amber C. Coisman, Tressler LLP Legal Clinic

Amber Coisman has been an active volunteer with CVLS’ LaGrange Legal Clinic since clinic sponsor Tressler LLP initially became involved. As a partner at Tressler LLP focusing on insurance coverage counseling and litigation, Amber advises insurers on coverage issues. As a clinic volunteer, she takes on a wide variety of cases from Disability to Consumer Finance. 

Amber frequently takes on more shifts than required, and is always willing to take on additional dates as needed to ensure the clinic has full coverage. She is very supportive of the clinic’s growth, frequently encouraging new and different attorneys to get involved and volunteer their time. 


James T. Derico, Jr., Trinity United Church of Christ Legal Clinic

In his practice, Derico & Associates, longtime volunteer James Derico works to meet the needs of small and mid-size businesses. With CVLS and the Trinity United Church of Christ Legal Clinic, he has taken on upwards of 70 cases throughout the years – wow! 

Jim began volunteering with CVLS in 2006, taking on torts and landlord tenant cases; he has now handled an amazing variety of cases, advocating for clients facing foreclosure, bankruptcy, divorce, discrimination and more. 


Justin C. From, Sidley Austin Salvation Army Legal Clinic

In addition to sitting on CVLS’ Junior Board of Directors, Sidley Austin Associate Justin From stands out among the volunteers who staff Sidley’s Salvation Army Legal Clinic. Justin’s work ethic allow him to take on a wide variety of cases throughout any given clinic year. 

On a recent social security case for a quadriplegic client, Justin protected more than $140,000 in benefits; his client was so pleased she praised the “professionalism, empathy, incredible competency, and diligent efforts that Justin put forth on [her] behalf.” 


Sara J. Gurvitz, The Ark Legal Clinic

In her work with CVLS’ Ark Legal Clinic, Sara Gurvitz has committed over 100 hours of volunteer work in this past year alone. Drawing on her background in child custody and divorce, Sara handles chiefly family law cases, advocating for clients often for months on end. 

The Ark, a nonprofit built on stabilizing its clients’ situations and assisting them in achieving self-reliance, offers an array of social services to the disadvantaged Jewish population of Chicago. Sara’s dedication to providing access to legal services the Ark’s clients could not otherwise afford embodies the mission of both the Ark and CVLS.


Lam Nguyen Ho, Chinese American Service League Chinatown Legal Clinic

As the founder and Executive Director of the Community Activism Law Alliance, Lam Nguyen Ho is passionate about bringing legal services to Chicago’s disadvantaged populations and raising awareness of the legal issues facing these communities. Part of his work involves community activism through law clinics, including CVLS’ Chinese American Service League Chinatown Legal Clinic. 

In addition to volunteering consistently at the CASL clinic on Saturdays, Lam has taken on several panel cases for CVLS. The clinic’s chair describes him as “a great attorney,” adding that the CASL clinic is lucky to have him advocating on behalf of its clients. 


Ted R. Jadwin, Jewish United Fund Community Legal Services Clinic

Together with his wife, Ellen Morris, Ted regularly donates his time and legal expertise to CVLS’ Jewish United Fund Community Legal Services Clinic. Undeterred from committing to complicated cases, Ted often takes on clients with legal problems in the areas of eviction, foreclosure and real estate. 

His work at a real estate investment trust company uniquely qualifies him to handle these intricate cases, which would cost his clients hundreds of dollars they otherwise couldn’t pay. The JUF clinic and CVLS’ Foreclosure Mediation Program consistently benefit from Ted’s experience and generosity with his time.


Elaine M. Johnson, Visitation Church Legal Clinic

Elaine Johnson is a longtime supporter of CVLS, having volunteered her time and legal talent for more than 20 years. In that time, she has taken on an extraordinary number of cases and has proven a valuable asset to CVLS’ Visitation Church Legal Clinic. Elaine is a friendly face at both the clinic, located near Englewood, and at CVLS’ offices.

She takes on cases of many types, from divorce and custody to foreclosure and real estate, embodying one of the reasons CVLS’ volunteer-based model works – volunteers can take on cases outside their typical purview to expand their legal knowledge and help as many clients as possible. 


Marcy Margaret Kurowski-Labedz, Amicus Poloniae Legal Clinic

The outstanding contribution Marcy Margaret Kurowski-Labedz to CVLS’ Amicus Poloniae Legal Clinic doesn’t stop at her wide range of legal experience and talent. In a few years of volunteering for CVLS’ clinic catering directly to Chicago’s Polish community, she has taken on nearly 70 cases. Working on everything from immigration to insurance, the time and effort Marcy devotes to her clinic work is invaluable to the clients she serves there. 


Andrzej Maczek, Amicus Poloniae Legal Clinic

Andrzej Maczek began volunteering for CVLS’ Amicus Poloniae Legal Clinic earlier this year, but in the short time he’s worked with the clinic, he has made quite an impression. The clinic chair applauds his “outstanding” efforts in contributing his talent and his time to the clients he serves. 


Furqan Mohammed, Indo American Legal Clinic

The mission of the Indo American Center is to promote the well-being of South Asian immigrants through services that facilitate their adjustment, integration, and friendship with the wider society. Furqan Mohammed uses his legal expertise to further that mission, volunteering consistently with CVLS’ Indo American Legal Clinic. His specialty in employment matters has proven beneficial to the clinic’s clients, but Furqan doesn’t stop there – he often takes on cases outside his regular practice area, including real estate, Social Security and custody cases.

Furqan’s outstanding work and dedication to the clinic shines through in his commitment to bringing the experience he has gained as a litigation associate with Perkins Coie to the low-income clients who seek help they could not otherwise afford. 


Ellen J. Morris, Jewish United Fund Community Legal Services Clinic

Ellen Morris and her husband, Ted Jadwin, make up a husband and wife team who are rarely deterred from committing to complicated cases, usually in the areas of eviction, foreclosure and real estate. Ellen, who started the Law Offices of Ellen J. Morris more than 34 years ago, brings considerable talent and conviction to both her practice and her volunteer efforts with CVLS’ Jewish United Fund Community Legal Clinic. 

Specializing in part on residential real estate, Ellen’s significant history of housing, landlord tenant and Mortgage Foreclosure cases show her dedication to using her specific expertise in helping not only her practice’s clients, but also those low-income clients who could not otherwise afford legal help. 


Courtney J. Nogar, Locke Lord Legal Clinic

Courtney Nogar, a staff counsel for Locke Lord LLP, has absolutely gone above and beyond in volunteering for the firm’s CVLS clinic at St. Procopius Church – not only does she attend every clinic that she’s able to, but she uses her knowledge of Spanish and her background in family law to identify those who could take cases at the firm and then continues to check in and assist with those cases. She has been an invaluable asset to the clinic’s work this year.


Ann R. Peters, American Immigration Lawyers Association Legal Clinic

An active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, CVLS volunteer Ann Peters regularly offers her expertise in immigration law for the low-income clients who visit CVLS’ AILA Legal Clinic. Her ongoing commitment to the AILA Legal Clinic often results in a challenging case load of intensive immigration related issues. 

In her practice, Ann represents both detained and non-detained clients in the Chicago Immigration Court, as well as before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Asylum Office. CVLS and AILA are lucky to have such a devoted and experienced advocate for clients in this critically important area of law. 


Lynn S. Preshad, Indo American Legal Clinic

Mortgage foreclosure and immigration attorney Lynn Preshad spends her days as an associate at Fish Law Group, but on Saturdays she can be found at CVLS’ Indo American Legal Clinic, hosted by the Indo-American Center. Dedicated to helping people, Lynn provides counseling in addition to representing her clients in and out of the courtroom. 

The chair of the Indo American clinic praises Lynn’s “outstanding work with clients and a true dedication for the clinic.” 


Jennifer A. Weed, Jane Addams Legal Clinic

CVLS’ Jane Addams Legal Clinic handles a wide variety of cases and clients. Its chair, Jennifer Weed, employs a truly humbling sense of commitment to both the clinic volunteers and their clients. She is always going above and beyond to make new volunteers feel at home within the CVLS community. 

Currently the Director of Knowledge & Programming with the Strategic Account Management, Jennifer has been a clinic volunteer since 2010. Since then, she has steadily taken on cases, mostly in Family Law, advocating on behalf of minors and adults alike. 





Cecelia J. Blue, Guardian ad Litem for Minors Program 

It’s no secret that Cecelia Blue has a bit of a pro bono addiction. Not only has she taken eight minor GAL cases and four foreclosures through CVLS in the past two years, she is also a dedicated pro bono volunteer at the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, which recently recognized her for her outstanding service, and a certified volunteer mediator through the Center for Conflict Resolution. 

Cecelia says her heart is really in GAL work, and as a GAL for minors, Cecelia has traveled near and far to meet with students at their schools, visited families in their homes, personally tracked down parties who were unresponsive, and issued subpoenas for all types of important information. She truly loves the work and gives it her all. In her free time, she serves private clients through her legal and accounting practice and works as a certified mediator and arbitrator through the Cook County Courts. We don’t know how she does it all, but the world could use more people like her! Thank you, Cecelia! 


R. Cantrell Jones, Chancery Court Access to Justice Program

Cantrell Jones is a fairly recent volunteer, joining CVLS in the last couple of years.  When this Dentons Managing Associate started representing CVLS clients, he dove in head first.  He took his first case, an administrative review action against the Secretary of State with no knowledge of that area of law - and won.  He immediately jumped right into his second case against the Chicago Housing Authority.  He lost this one, but believed in his client and his case so much that he has appealed the case and is awaiting a decision.  

No matter the result, Cantrell’s clients can be sure they were represented persistently and vehemently by the very best.


Roenan Patt, Panel Referral Program

Roenan Patt has been volunteering with CVLS since January 2013.  From the very beginning, he has taken a steady stream of panel cases including contract disputes, tort defense, landlord tenant, corporation dissolution and collection.  Roenan is a true advocate for social justice and is committed to helping people.  Not only does he aggressively fight for his clients, he has also made himself available for other CVLS volunteer attorneys for legal support and advice.  We are very lucky to have Roenan as a CVLS volunteer!


Steven C. Perlis, Adult Guardian ad Litem Program

Between running his firm, The Elder Law Offices of Steven C. Perlis, and working with the Northwest Suburban Bar Association, CVLS volunteer Steven C. Perlis has found the time and effort to take on nearly 30 pro bono cases. Steve brings career-long passion and experience in the fields of Elder Law and Adult Guardianship to his work with CVLS, consistently advocating for vulnerable and often-overlooked adults with disabilities. His thorough approach and deep commitment to his clients, as well as his willingness to take on tough cases set Steve apart in the Adult GAL Program. 


Robert L. Perlstein, Adult Guardian ad Litem Program

A seasoned and experienced lawyer with a knack for making those around him feel comfortable, Robert Perlstein somewhat recently began volunteering with CVLS in 2012. He immediately started taking on Adult GAL cases, and he has now closed nearly 20. Despite his busy work schedule, he is currently handling multiple open cases between going on college visits with his son. In his Morton Grove practice, Bob works with a wide spectrum of clients, but his talent and generosity make the low-income adults he advocates for feel safe and secure. 


Rawn H. Reinhard, Guardian ad Litem for Minors Program

Rawn is a Partner at Neal Gerber and Eisenberg, where is focuses his practice on securities arbitration and class actions, as well as general commercial and corporate litigation. Rawn and his colleagues, Aidan Gilbert, and Carol Gilmore, have taken on 21 guardian ad litem for minors cases in the past three years alone. Wow! This is surely a new record. These lengthy cases involve highly emotional, difficult parties and more than their fair share of drama and headache. It is a time-consuming, thankless job. 

Despite that, Rawn and his team enthusiastically take on multiple cases at a time, proclaiming that they are up for anything and love a challenge. They truly go above and beyond the call of duty by traveling to see minors in other cities, learning every detail of each family’s history, and handling issues that arise long after cases have been taken off the court’s call. CVLS also thanks Rawn for his service as a new member of our Board of Directors. We can’t thank Rawn, Aidan, and Carol enough for their pro bono service and dedication to the GAL program.


Ashaki T. Sailor, Circuit Court of Cook County Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program

Ashaki Sailor has put her legal talents to work at CVLS for over two years now, as a volunteer representing homeowners in the Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program.  Her thoughtful and empathetic approach to each client, as well as her detailed and thorough case preparation, guarantee that her lucky clients get the best possible representation. Regardless of the client’s ability to ultimately obtain a modification of their mortgage, Ashaki continually asks the right questions and figures out the best possible solution available to each homeowner.