According to the report, “The Justice Gap,” low-income Americans receive no or inadequate legal help for 86% of their non-criminal legal problems.* These individuals include senior citizens, veterans, and those with disabilities. They may be experiencing housing problems or domestic violence, or they may be trying to obtain veterans’ benefits, disability benefits, or child support. Currently, there are not enough volunteer attorneys in Illinois to help them. 

This shortage of pro bono attorneys not only affects the number of low-income or disadvantaged people served, but also the disposition of justice. Studies consistently show that the outcome of contested matters often turns on whether a person has an attorney. 

The Pro Bono Network (PBN) has been working since 2011 to combat this shortage by expanding the pool of attorneys available to represent those who cannot afford legal services. PBN recruits, trains, places, and supports lawyers who want to be of service but have limitations on their availability or resources. These include attorneys who are on career breaks, have retired, or are solo practitioners. The attorneys can work from their home or at a number of locations throughout Cook and DuPage counties. Malpractice insurance is provided. 

PBN invites interested attorneys to learn more at an open house in Oak Park on Thursday, Sept. 5 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Oak Park Public Library.  

PBN will also be conducting trainings for specific projects in mid-September. For more information or questions, email sheila.pont@pro-bono-network.org.

*Source: Legal Services Corporation, “The Justice Gap,” June 2017, https://www.lsc.gov/media-center/publications/2017-justice-gap-report

Linda Rio

Executive director, Pro Bono Network 

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