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.

CVLS Intervention

Homeowners Helped through Hardest Hit Fund

Defending a foreclosure is especially difficult for the elderly and disabled. There are programs meant to help, but homeowners often can’t navigate the programs’ complexities. For example, the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) is a large grant overseen by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) to help homeowners who hit a rough patch catch up on their mortgages.

Although the HHF Program offered help to homeowners Patricia, Angelique, and Rheda, each faced physical and legal challenges that prevented them from accessing funds.

a pro bono happy ending

Rosa's Adoption Story

George Vasios, CVLS Volunteer

Adoption cases often involve happy endings to unhappy beginnings.

12-year-old Rosa doesn’t remember her biological parents. Shortly after she was born, her father abandoned her and her mother. Rosa’s mother then passed away when Rosa was just three years old. After her mother’s death, Rosa was raised by her cousin Gloria and Gloria’s partner, Edgar.

Last year, Gloria and Edgar wanted to make their relationship to Rosa permanent – by formally adopting her as their child. Through our Jane Addams Clinic, CVLS placed their case with attorney George Vasios.

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.

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.

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.

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).