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Illinois Bar Foundation to administer expansion of Illinois JusticeCorps

The Illinois Bar Foundation (IBF), the charitable arm of the Illinois State Bar Association, will administer the statewide expansion of Illinois JusticeCorps to recruit, train and supervise college, university and law students to serve as guides in courthouses.

Launched as a pilot project in Chicago in 2009, the program was expanded in 2012 with AmeriCorps funding from the Serve Illinois Commission, and additional funding and significant in-kind support from The Chicago Bar Foundation (CBF) and the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice. The program currently provides assistance at the Daley Center in Chicago and courthouses in Markham and Bloomington. The IBF will administer the expansion into seven additional courthouses around the state including those in Rockford, Waukegan, Kankakee, Champaign, Galesburg, Macomb and Edwardsville. The CBF will continue to partner with the IBF for the Cook County portion of the program.

“Volunteers are trained to provide navigational assistance to unrepresented litigants in overburdened courts, often helping them find existing legal self-help centers so they are able to obtain the help they need,” said David M. Anderson, IBF executive director. “Their work does not replace the work of courts, attorneys, clerks or help-desk staff but complements it by helping self-represented litigants find available resources quickly so people can be served more promptly.”

Volunteers make a 300-hour commitment and come from local schools and universities including DePaul University, Loyola University, Governors State University, Roosevelt University, Illinois State University, Illinois Wesleyan University, The John Marshall Law School and the University of Illinois at Champaign.

The program also has 10 full-time AmeriCorps members on staff who receive a modest living allowance during a one-year, 1,700-hour commitment. In return, the volunteers and staff members receive a financial education award when they complete the program.

“Many JusticeCorps volunteers come from diverse backgrounds and have strong connections to their communities, and they often can communicate with people in their own languages, which can be a huge help to the courts” Anderson stated.

From September 2013 to March 2014, JusticeCorps members provided assistance more than 11,000 times to visitors at three Illinois courts. The number does not include volunteer assistance at the newly-opened Circuit Court of Cook County Self-Help Resource Center. Further information about the program is available at www.illinoisbarfoundation.org.

Posted on Oct 06, 2014 by Chris Bonjean | Comments (0)
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