Featured Events 2011
Illinois Legal Aid Online launched its Pro Bono Mobile App on October 25 as part of its participation in the National Celebration of Pro Bono Week. Illinois, a national leader in applying technology to the delivery of free legal services, is the first state to launch a free mobile application for pro bono attorney. The Illinois Pro Bono Mobile App, released for Apple iOs and Android devices, delivers training and practice support materials to legal professionals with smart phones and tablets who volunteer with legal services providers. The app leverages some of IllinoisProBono.org 's resources to make them more accessible and easier to use on mobile devices.
"Legal professionals have a distinct responsibility to use their specialized skills for the betterment of our communities. I am thrilled to be involved in this year's Pro Bono Week, and I am especially pleased with the notion of "Kindness to Strangers," this week's theme in Chicago, which resonated to me in this era," said Carrie Di Santo, Vice President and Global Chief Compliance Officer of Aon Corporation in Chicago and Co-Chair of Chicago's Seventh Annual Pro Bono Week. "The Illinois Pro Bono Mobile App makes it easy for those of us in the corporate sector and at law firms who want to give back to those in most need of our services."
"Continuing advances in technology have made it possible for pro bono and legal aid organizations to serve many more clients as well as to more effectively support pro bono attorneys," said Bob Glaves, Executive Director of The Chicago Bar Foundation. "With mobile technology now becoming the norm for most lawyers, there are even greater possibilities."
The Illinois Pro Bono Mobile App gives attorneys, law students, and paralegals instantaneous access to a statewide database of volunteer opportunities, a calendar of MCLE trainings and community events, and comprehensive legal reference guides. The app's legal resources include in-depth guides on discrete areas of civil law, including advanced directives, mortgage foreclosure, divorce and custody, and more. Earlier this month Illinois Legal Aid Online released the Illinois Legal Aid Mobile App for lower-income residents with legal problems. The app provides zip code-based referrals to local legal services programs, including county-based legal self-help centers, and free, plain language legal information for the most common legal problems.
The Illinois Legal Aid Mobile App can be downloaded here and the Illinois Pro Bono Mobile App can be downloaded here.
Illinois Legal Aid Online is a nationally-recognized, groundbreaking statewide technology center for legal services. Since 2001, ILAO has put the law within reach for lower-income Illinois residents by developing technology and information to increase access to justice.
The newly- formed West Cook Pro Bono Network is joining the National Celebration of Pro Bono by celebrating its first 100 hours of pro bono work with a coffee hour for participants, interested individuals, and friends of the Network. The Network was created to make pro bono opportunities more accessible to primary caregivers by structuring projects to work with their other obligations. Network members join a community of colleagues who are able to arrange projects that accommodate the schedules and demands of caregivers. It has also attracted solo practitioners who find the model workable for their needs. Projects are team or pair-based and are chosen with sensitivity to geographic location and school-pickup times: backup is always available. The model also has attracted the interest and cooperation of area nonprofit organizations who have found it efficient to work with the organization and tailor projects to members' unique flexibility and constraints.
This distinctive, collaborative pro bono service delivery model unleashes the often-ignored and under-utilized talent of stay-at-home caregivers, primarily women, whose skills and potential contributions would otherwise remain untapped. Small in scale but large in impact, this easily-replicable model has the potential to provide many hours of high-quality service to low income individuals who would otherwise be unrepresented.
The Network currently has four projects:
1. Senior Center Initiative: Through the Center for Disability & Elder Law, the Network helps seniors prepare durable Powers of Attorney for Health Care and Property as a means of avoiding potential abuse and financial exploitation, as well as the possible requirement of a guardianship proceeding, should they later become incapacitated.
2. Lawyers in the Classroom: Through the Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago, attorneys teach Chicago students various principles of the Constitution and our judicial system.
3. Immigration: VAWA and U Visa Representation: The Network has just launched this pilot program through the Legal Assistance Foundation.
4. Pilot Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Project: Through Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, the Network has trained 12 member and expects to begin providing desperately-needed attorneys to represent foreclosure clients in early 2012.
The time seems ripe for the proliferation of this model of pro bono service delivery. West Cook Pro Bono Network was inspired by a similar group, Chicago Pro Bono Attorney Moms. In addition to the Oak Park chapter of West Cook Pro Bono Network, a North Side chapter is in the formation stage. For more information visit West Cook Pro Bono Network.
As part of the National Celebration of Pro Bono this year, the Florida Pro Bono Coordinators Association (FPBCA) has organized a statewide effort to connect lawyers to Floridians with unmet legal needs. Over thirty free "ask-a-lawyer clinics" will be staffed by volunteer lawyers across Florida. The program, called One-on-One Florida, has recruited attorney volunteers to staff the clinics where they will analyze and evaluate individual's legal problems, give counsel and advice, and move them towards the resolution of their issues.
The clinics are the result of collaboration between bar associations, legal services organizations, and law schools, and are an outgrowth of Florida's One Promise campaign which was launched in October 2009. The Florida Supreme Court's Standing Committee on Pro Bono, led by Judge William Van Nortwick, launched the One Campaign to underscore the centrality of the oath taken at the beginning of each legal career to "never reject the cause of the defenseless or oppressed or delay anyone's cause for lucre or malice." One is intended to give attorneys the opportunity to renew that promise regularly, and to encourage every attorney in the state of Florida to assist One pro bono client. This single contribution could drastically reduce the enormous backlog of cases and significantly improve access to justice for Florida residents. The campaign motto expresses this hope: "It doesn't take a lot of time to change the world it just takes&ONE."
Pro bono program volunteers throughout Louisiana are sponsoring a variety of free legal clinics across the state on Thursday, October 27th. Eight clinics will be held in major cities throughout the state and will cover a variety of topics ranging from pro se divorce, civil issues for people who are homeless, general advice and Ask-A Lawyer clinics.
The Statewide Day of Service is a direct response to the current economic situation which has created an even greater need for service; this project is intended to provide an additional opportunity for those in need to access the advice of an attorney. The statewide effort is the result of collaboration among Louisiana's pro bono programs. Together, program staff decided that a coordinated, unified effort was the most effective way to provide additional services while emphasizing the importance of pro bono and the need for volunteers throughout the state.