With 50 years of experience providing high quality, free legal services to low-income Chicagoans, CVLS and its volunteers are often recognized for their outstanding work.

Given a Voice

Divorced Mother Retains Custody of Children

Mary Rocco, Attorney at Law

Sylvia came to CVLS at the worst possible time. Her pending divorce case had already been set for trial, and there were minors involved. Although such cases are notoriously difficult for CVLS to place with attorneys, Mary Rocco bravely volunteered to represent Sylvia. Mary realized that the parties had little to no assets, but they were contesting custody of their two children, ages 15 and 17.

The children had been living with Sylvia for the past seven years, but Sylvia’s husband insisted on being named the custodial parent. Sylvia valiantly tried to represent herself for two years. Over and over, she attempted to negotiate with her husband’s attorney, but the attorney rejected all of Sylvia’s settlement proposals.

New Clinic fights debt collection

CVLS has launched The Debt Collection and Credit Protection Clinic to serve clients with consumer collection and credit reporting issues. With expertise in consumer protection litigation, debt collection defense, abusive collection practices and financial fraud, these volunteers help clients struggling with credit card collections, medical debts, car and student loans. They also help clients fix erroneous or fraudulent information on their credit reports, which can affect clients’ job and housing prospects. The clinic, which meets monthly, offers various levels of assistance ranging from in-person advice to full-scope pro bono representation, depending on the client’s needs, and serves as an in-depth referral service, connecting clients facing unique and challenging consumer issues with attorneys that possess the right know-how and experience. Clinic leaders hope to expand their volunteer base and serve even more clients in 2019.

Life changing representation

Attorney Goes Above and Beyond for Client

Brittni Rivera, Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC

Pro bono attorneys do more than just represent clients. They change lives.

Ana was an undocumented immigrant. A native and citizen of Venezuela, she overstayed her visitor visa almost twenty years ago. Ana has since divorced an abusive husband, taken exclusive care of their three children with special needs, and fought to make ends meet.

CVLS Volunteer Hits the bench

Pro Bono Attorney Appointed as Circuit Judge!

James T. Derico, Jr., At-Large Cook County Circuit Judge

Experienced volunteer and two-time recipient of the CVLS Distinguished Service Award, James T. Derico, Jr., has been appointed as an At-Large Cook County Circuit Judge. According to the Supreme Court’s press release, he will fill the vacancy of the Honorable Matthew Coghlan, beginning January 28, 2019.

Mr. E's Story

Arbitration Veterans Defend Air Force Veteran

Claire Whitehead, Associate, Swanson Martin & Bell, LLP

A six-year veteran of the United States Air Force, Mr. E was sued for more than $27,000 after being involved in a four-way car accident. Although he works full time and receives veteran’s benefits, he is the sole support of two young children and could not afford to hire an attorney to defend him.

Got a minute?

Michael Bloxham, doctoral intern at the Forensic Center, is conducting research on how much legal professionals know about mental health issues. Please complete and share the survey below to assist Michael with his work:

Click here to take the survey.

Congratulations Ruth Ann!

Ruth Ann Schmitt

Former CVLS Executive Director, Ruth Ann Schmitt, was honored today at the Illinois Bar Foundation Fellows Breakfast!

Ruth received the Distinguished Service for Law & Society Award. Among other accomplishments, she was the first executive director of the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois (LTF).

Deal or No Deal

Volunteer secures safety deposit!

When needed, our volunteers can be masters of both litigation and negotiation.

Carlena recently moved out of her apartment, expecting the return of her $1,500 security deposit. On a fixed income of just over $700 per month, she was relying on the deposit to pay for some upcoming expenses. Despite calling, texting, and sending letters, Carlena could not get her landlord to cooperate.

CVLS interviewed Carlena and asked volunteer attorney, Mark Liston to take her case. Mark got to work immediately, contacting the landlord and requesting the return of Carlena’s security deposit. The landlord responded that Carlena had damaged the unit, and threatened to countersue for the costs of repair.

Big help without the big bill

Paul Dengel, Schiff Hardin

Good, affordable lawyers are hard to come by. At Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, we pride ourselves on connecting low-income clients to skilled attorneys at no cost to the client.

T.’s case started as a simple modification of child support. Unable to work full-time, she needed additional support from her child’s father. In 2014, the father’s child support obligation had been reduced to zero because of alleged critical health problems that prevented him from working.