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’ 2018 Annual Report now available!

CVLS is pleased to announce that our 2018 annual report is now available online at In it you will see many examples of seemingly small pro bono cases having big impacts on people’s lives. Every day our volunteers do little things with great love, and in doing so chang this city for the better.

As we move into our 55th year, CVLS is more committed than ever to fulfilling our role of providing free civil legal aid to Chicago and building on all of our success. Our work would not be possible without the generous support of our donors and allies like you, so thank you for empowering us to make a difference!

Learn the ropes with cvls

Take advantage of our free CLE courses

Illinois requires their legal professionals take a certain amount of CLE each year. If you are lucky enough to have an employer that covers this expense, that’s great news! Not all legal professionals are so lucky, and the costs associated with fulfilling the required number of hours can get expensive.

Contest winner

We received many submissions for our Friendly Lawyer’s Conference contest. Thank you to everyone who submitted, and to our winner, John Festa.

“For the last 2 years I have been the co-chair of the Wills for heroes program through the Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers section. The program provides free estate planning for all first responders and their spouses or partners. We hold 8 to 9 clinics a year and most are about 5 hours long..."

sweet treats for sweet outcome

Polsinelli Attorney Resolves Case as GAL

Andrew Ryerson, Polsinelli

Erica is 19 years old. She suffers from cerebral palsy and other medical conditions that make her incapable of bearing her own weight. She is non-verbal, requires a wheelchair, and is incapable of making her own personal and financial decisions.

Evonne, Erica’s mother, filed for guardianship of Erica. The Probate Court appointed CVLS as Guardian ad Litem to investigate the facts of the case and provide a recommendation. CVLS assigned the case the pro bono volunteer, Andrew Ryerson of Polsinelli P.C.

No More Debt for This Vet

Rosa's Adoption Story

Justin Storer, Lakelaw

Overburdened by student loans, a defunct car note, and medical debt, Brittany was in desperate need of filing for bankruptcy. Brittany is a veteran of the United State Army, but her VA benefits are not enough to pay her debts, care for her six-year-old son, and hire a private bankruptcy attorney.

Brittany served her country, and it was time for CVLS to serve her. She was able to connect with us through the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN). We reviewed her case and placed it with volunteer attorney, Justin Storer of Lakelaw.

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.