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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

The cost of being a good daughter

Family Health Emergency Causes Financial Chaos

Barbara Mallon, Mallon & Johnson

Last year, Adriana was a typical college student. She was living away from home in an off-campus apartment with three roommates. In December 2018, she found out that her mother’s health had deteriorated. Adriana made the difficult choice to leave college and return home to Chicago to take care of her mother and help with finances at home.

Adriana paid rent for her apartment in January 2019 but stopped in February. She tried her best to sublet the apartment but could not find anyone to take over the rest of her lease. In February 2019, she sought help from the CVLS Clinic at Old St. Mary’s (OSM) Church.

New Judge in 1806 - Guardianship of Minors

Honorable Stephanie Miller

CVLS welcomes the Honorable Stephanie Miller to the bench in 1806, the courtroom where all Cook County minor guardianship cases are heard. Judge Miller is a former 6th Subcircuit judge of the Cook County Judicial Circuit Court in Illinois. She attended Northwestern University and Loyola University School of Law. Her professional experience includes working as an Assistant Publican Guardian and Assistant State’s Attorney. In January 2017, she was appointed to the seat previously held by Robert Lopez Cepero. She has been affiliated with the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, Hispanic Lawyers’ Association of Illinois, Puerto Rican Bar Association, Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, Westbucktown Neighborhood Association, Maplewood and Lucy Flowers Park Advisory Council, and Friends of Goethe School. Judge Miller has already appointed CVLS in a number of new cases and we look forward to working with her.

Board News

Governing and Junior Boards Hold Elections

Left to right: Andy Miller, Elizabeth Riddle, Elaine Sit, Christine Skoczylas

Congratulations to Laverne Horton, BDO USA, Michelle Marek Figueiredo, Paul Hastings LLP, Julie Marion, Latham & Watkins, Patrick McKey, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Katherine Dennis Nye, Neal Gerber & Eisenberg LLP, and Matthew Schiltz. Each were reelected for another three-year term on CVLS’ Board of Directors. Thank you to retiring board members Edwin Del Hierro and Deborah Bone for their service.

Andy Miller, Locke Lord, Elizabeth Riddle, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Elaine Sit, Law Office of Elaine Sit, and Christine Skoczylas, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, were elected to serve their first terms on the board. Andy Miller previously served a three-year term on the Junior Board.

2019 leadership

2019 leadership

The Board of Directors held officer elections on May 22 with the following results:

Kimberly Halvorsen - President
Dan Winters - VP Finance
Michelle Marek Figueiredo - VP Development
Eddie Houlihan - VP Client Services
Bryan Webster - Secretary

Jordan Heinz - Executive Committee
Julie Marion - Executive Committee
Joe Seder - Executive Committee

Congratulations to everyone and thank you for all that you do.