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.

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.

Social Security Success

Ehsan Eftekhari, Eftekhari Law Offices

You know that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach? The visceral feeling you get when something has gone horribly wrong? That’s the feeling Mohammed got when he received a letter from the Social Security Administration (SSA) telling him that he owed them about $6,000.

Conflict in the courtroom

Kirkland attorney defends improperly sued veteran

Sarah Schultes, Kirkland & Ellis LLP

Roderick is an 84-year-old Korean War veteran who lives in Mississippi. His adult son was being sued in Illinois for $4,000,000 by a former employer with some shady business practices. Although the employer had filed the suit pro se, she was aided by an attorney with a suspended Michigan law license. The attorney had drafted the complaint and “served” Roderick by leaving it on his front porch in Mississippi. The attorney also sent him a series of emails and texts trying to settle the case “quickly” for $30,000.

CVLS Child Rep Ensures Safety of Child with Disability

Steven Marshall and Kathy Clemens, Marshall Law LLC

Nicholas is six years old. Born with a rare, genetic disease, he has significant developmental disabilities. Nicholas cannot speak or walk, and he can only eat through a feeding tube. Both of Nicholas’s parents cared equally for their son. That is, until they separated when he was four years old.

Domestic relations litigation made Nicholas’s young, stressful life even more problematic. His parents could not agree on a parenting plan, and their disagreements led to potential risks for Nicholas. To determine what would be in the child’s best interests, the Court appointed CVLS as Child Representative. CVLS assigned the case to trusted volunteer, Steven Marshall. Steven met with the parties and advocated for an evaluation of their parenting abilities.

No Termination with Representation

Volunteer fights for reasonable accommodation

Stephen Murphy, CVLS Volunteer

Some CVLS clients desperately rely on housing assistance to keep from being homeless. Diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, Quentin has been receiving treatment, care and support for his mental illness for over 15 years. He is also a participant in the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) Housing Choice Voucher Program, but he was recently at risk for termination for allegedly failing to pay rent. Despite Quentin telling the CHA about his diagnosis and habitability problems with his apartment, the CHA nevertheless found in favor of termination.

Quentin came to CVLS for assistance in filing his petition for judicial review. CVLS placed his case with Stephen Murphy, a first time CVLS volunteer who set to work trying to resolve the case as quickly as possible. After paging through hundreds of medical records, Stephen submitted a Reasonable Accommodation Request to CHA, detailing Quentin’s long-time disability. The request itself asked CHA to resolve any future issues with payment of rent or evictions by contacting Quentin’s mental health support team.

Sometimes you just need a helping hand

Irene Hickey Sullivan, CVLS PILI Fellow

Mr. Green was a participant in CHA’s housing choice voucher program until he was terminated in 2016 for missing a pair of appointments at CHA HQ. He also failed to request an informal hearing within a month and was terminated. He then failed to file a lawsuit within 6 months of being terminated and the SOL under the administrative review act had run.

Mr. Green is developmentally delayed and has spent the last two years trying to get back into the program by calling CHA. In the meantime he moved in with his mother who eventually helped him figure out he needed to sue CHA. The court referred him to CVLS through the Access to Justice Program.

Record-Setting CVLS Referral Saves Yet Another Home!

Eric Papier, McVey and Parsky

After his mother passed away, Hurlice inherited the family home. His siblings transferred their interest in the property to Hurlice, but unfortunately he fell behind on the mortgage. Although Hurlice was recognized as the sole owner of the property, the bank refused to review him for a modification and instead filed a foreclosure case against him. Fortunately, Hurlice’s case was assigned to Judge Loftus, who now holds a Foreclosure Division record for most Access to Justice (A2J) referrals to CVLS!

CVLS placed Hurlice’s case with volunteer attorney, Eric Papier of McVey and Parsky. Eric masterfully handled the assignment, and when probate issues flared up, Staff Attorney Matt Hulstein provided guidance. After months of review and follow-up, the lender finally approved Hurlice for a modification, and the foreclosure case was dismissed. Well done, Eric!