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.

Lawyer of the Year

Volunteer Honored by Catholic Lawyers

Royal Berg

Longtime CVLS volunteer and friend, Royal Berg , was honored recently by The Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago with the 2019 Lawyer of the Year award at their annual Red Mass reception.

Roy has practiced immigration law in Chicago as a solo practitioner since 1984. During which time he has served as Co-Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Chicago Bar Association, and the Litigation Committee of the Chicago Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). He is also a founding Board Member of Immigrants’ List, a pro-immigrant, pro-immigration political action committee formed in 2006.

Volunteer Attorneys Needed

CVLS needs volunteers to help people staying in homeless shelters understand and navigate their legal problems. Our rotating clinic, co-sponsored by Housing Forward, is held in Oak Park, Forest Park and Berwyn churches, one evening a month between May 1 and October 31. This is a great opportunity for all of you River Forest, Oak Park and other near western suburban attorneys, to help the people you see every day who are struggling. CVLS will help you help them by providing training and legal support. Interested or have questions? Email Kathy Koester at


Former PILI Intern Prevents Homelessness

Daniel Parrish, Brinks Gilson & Lione

Rochelle used to live in a two-flat with her parents. Her mother and father lived on the top floor, and Rochelle and her children rented the bottom floor with the help of a housing voucher from the Chicago Housing Authority. For the most part, all was well.

Then, in one sudden turn of events, Rochelle lost everything.

Lousy Lender

Client Keeps Home After Unnecessary Explanation

Damon Ritenhouse, EV Has, LLC

Two years ago, Mariam’s husband suffered a massive heart attack and died in their home. The loss of his income caused a default on the mortgage, and Mariam faced the terrifying prospect of losing the home to foreclosure.

Mariam and her husband owned the property as joint tenants, so she became the sole owner the moment he passed away. Miriam had enough income to qualify for a modification of her loan, but her lender kept insisting she probate his estate in order to be approved. As any first-year law student can tell you, probating an estate is unnecessary if the property is held in joint tenancy!

Cooler Minds Prevail

CVLS Volunteer Amicably Settles Child Rep Case!

Colleen M. Hurley, Attorney at Law, Lavelle Law, Ltd.

It’s rare for a contested family law case to have a truly happy ending. Often when CVLS is appointed to represent a child, the goal is to minimize harm as much as possible.

J. is a sweet, eight-year-old girl who was stuck between parents who would not stop fighting with each other about parenting time. When volunteer Colleen Hurley first accepted the Court’s appointment as Child Representative, it looked like the parties would never find any common ground.

More than an Attorney

Volunteer Acts as Advocate, Emotional Support, and Teacher

Vicki Karl, Executive Director, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago

Clients come to CVLS with a variety of issues – not all of them legal. We listen and try to understand their needs, referring clients to other resources as necessary. After all, lawyers can’t do everything. That is, unless you’re represented by a volunteer attorney like Vicki Karl.

Vicki first met Ms. B. at Hel.LAS, our Hellenic Legal Assistance Services Clinic. 54-year-old Ms. B. came to the clinic wanting to apply for U.S. citizenship. She arrived in the United States at 10 years old and had lived as a permanent legal resident since then.

Ms. B. was married twice, is legally blind, and suffers from scoliosis, a brain tumor, and a dislocated back and hips. Her own medical issues and lack of formal education seriously hindered Ms. B.’s self-confidence. Vicki set time aside to really get to know Ms. B.

E-File Update

Cook County Sheriff Changes Request Service of Process

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office recently launched an e-file service for individuals needing to serve civil court documents. The e-filing portal allows parties to electronically request and upload documents such as summons and subpoenas, in addition to paying corresponding service fees, without having to make a trip to the courthouse, according to the sheriff’s website. E-filing is an option available to all who wish to utilize the Cook County’s Sheriff’s Office to serve process in Cook County.

E-Filing is NOT mandatory, and individuals may continue to file their requests in person at any Cook County Sheriff’s Office Civil Process location or by mailing their papers to the Daley Center location, along with payment.

History happens at CVLS

Governor Signs Consumer Fairness Act

Illinois Governor, J.B. Pritzker, stopped by CVLS to sign the Consumer Protection Act, HB88

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the new Consumer Fairness Act at CVLS on July 29, providing relief to the residents of Illinois from predatory interest rates on their debt. Thanks to the bill, post-judgment interest rates will drop from 9 percent to 5 percent, and the collection window will shrink from 26 years to 17 years.

Expecting the Unexpected

Adoption Finalized with Help from Sidley Volunteer!

Stephanie Stern, Sidley Austin LLP

Adoption is a tricky process. It’s paperwork-intensive, and there are often bumps in the road – something volunteer attorney Stephanie Stern soon found out!

Monica and Michael sought to jointly adopt three-year-old Gregory. Although not biologically related to them, Gregory had been in their care since he was just four months old. He was essentially handed to the couple by his biological mother, a woman they knew from the neighborhood.

Moving Papers Mishap

Housing Subsidy Restored by CVLS Volunteer

Terry (left) and volunteer Eric Vernsten (right)

Terry depends on his housing subsidy to afford rent in Cook County. In 2015, Terry’s landlord lost the apartment to foreclosure, forcing Terry to find a new place. To transfer the subsidy, Terry had to get “moving papers” from the housing authority and submit them to prospective landlords.