National Pro Bono Week -- Illinois attorneys celebrate and promote pro bono opportunities
By Michele Miller
Attorneys throughout Illinois will commemorate National Pro Bono week from Oct. 21-25, 2013 in a variety of ways -- from CLE opportunities to social events to a new online system for attorneys to find volunteer legal assignments.
- Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) will launch an online system designed to make it easy for attorneys to find and do volunteer work at Illinois legal aid organizations. ILAO will launch this new search and internship application system via IllinoisProBono.org on Oct. 21, 2013 to kick off National Pro Bono Week. IllinoisProBono.org is the brainchild of ILAO, an innovative non-profit organization whose mission is to improve access to justice through technology.
- Developed in collaboration with the Chicago Bar Foundation and the Public Interest Law Initiative, the new system on IllinoisProBono.org will be a truly one-stop-shop for legal professionals looking to ensure that the poor, disabled and senior residents of Illinois are able to obtain critical legal assistance. Attorneys, paralegals, legal support staff, and law students & graduates will be able to get alerts for volunteer opportunities based on interest, find opportunities through an improved search and listings, contact the organization with one click to express interest in an opportunity (or in some cases, apply online), and sign-up for trainings as well as be directed to written resources and training videos. On top of this, many of these trainings include free MCLE credit.
- Another opportunity for free MCLE credit will be offered by the ISBA Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. The committee will present a Family and Consumer Law Pro Bono Boot Camp in Rockford on Oct. 25. Attendees at the boot camp will qualify for 6.5 hours of MCLE credit and the program (including lunch) is free to any attorney who agrees to take a pro bono case within the next year. Topics include establishing or challenging parentage of a minor; establishing an initial child custody or visitation order; child support issues; debt collection; citation to discover assets; and ethical issues that can arise during the negotiation process.
- At the Danville Country Club, the next Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, the Honorable Rita B. Garman, will deliver remarks at the Second Annual Fifth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Week celebration on Oct. 21, 2013. In addition, the Fifth Circuit Pro Bono Committee and Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation will present Pro Bono Service Awards to honor attorneys in the circuit for outstanding Pro Bono services provided in the past year.
- Awards and CLE will be featured during National Pro Bono Week in the Sixth Circuit as well. On Oct. 24, 2013, Melissa A. Smart of the ARDC will present Ethical Issues in Pro Bono Representation at the Regent Ballroom in Savoy from noon to 1 p.m. Attendees will receive 1 hour of PMCLE credit. Immediately following the CLE presentation, pro bono service awards will be presented to outstanding pro bono attorneys in the Sixth Circuit.
- Two of Prairie State Legal Services' offices in central Illinois will offer CLE programs to commemorate Pro Bono Week. In Kankakee, a free CLE program covering tax issues in divorce, a primer on the Affordable Care Act, changes to the Illinois Collections process and Limited Scope Appearances will be held from 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. on October 24, 2013. Attendees will receive 2.5 hours of MCLE credit and 0.5 hours of PMCLE credit and are asked to accept a Pro Bono case from Prairie State. In Galesburg, the Knox County Bar Association will join Prairie State to offer a professionalism CLE from 12:00 to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 17, 2013 that will examine the ethics of negotiation and conflicts issues. Three hours of PMCLE credit and lunch will be provided. In northern Illinois, Prairie State's McHenry office will host a "coffee and snacks" event and an informational display board at the McHenry County courthouse during Pro Bono week.
- The Kane County Law Library and Self-Help Legal Center will host an open house on Oct. 22 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to thank attorneys who do pro bono work and to encourage other attorneys to volunteer their time and skills to support the delivery of legal services to indigent community members.
- On Oct. 21, 2013, the Peoria County Bar Association will recognize national Pro Bono week at a reception honoring Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride, whose term as Chief Justice concludes on Oc. 25, and during the PCBA Diversity Committee's 10th Annual Diversity Luncheon, held on Oct. 23, 2013 at the Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette.
- Legal Assistance Foundation (LAF) will celebrate Pro Bono Week 2013 with a free CLE session (1 hour of PMCLE credit) called "Two's Company, Three's a Crowd" about attorney-client privilege issues that can arise in pro bono work. The Oct. 29, 2013 CLE will be held at LAF's Loop office (120 S. LaSalle, Suite 900). The Lawyers' Committee for Betting Housing will hold eviction defense training (1 hour MCLE credit) on Oct. 30 at 1:00 at their office (33 N. LaSalle, Suite 900) covering the basics of landlord-tenant law and volunteer opportunities through LCBH.