Expanding Eviction Brief Advice Desk to address representation inequities

Carl Sessions

We are pleased to share that Carl Sessions, a recent graduate of ITT Chicago-Kent School of Law, has returned to LCBH as an Equal Justice Works (EJW) Fellow, sponsored by the Rossotti Family Foundation.

During two student volunteer stints with LCBH, Carl saw firsthand the inequities of representations in eviction court.

A key finding from LCBH’s Chicago Evictions data portal has revealed that 79% of landlords appeared with legal counsel though only 11% of tenants were represented.

More importantly, Carl witnessed improved outcomes for tenants that LCBH was able to assist.

"The truth comes out when you have advocates with equal skills on both sides of a case," Carl shares.

Based on these observations as well as the desire to combine his legal interests with community organizing and mobilization, Carl developed a fellowship project that serves two functions:

  • Expand the Eviction Brief Advice Desk (EBAD) through pro bono partnerships, increasing the number of tenants who are assisted.
  • Through EBAD, identify individuals who have withheld rent because of poor housing conditions and work to standardize evidence collection to facilitate affirmative litigation.

Carl will be seeking additional pro bono volunteers - lawyers, law students and paralegal students - to extend the number of days that EBAD operates at Chicago’s eviction court. He plans to offer training at Chicago firms whose staff would be interested in participating in EBAD. He’ll also cultivate a pool of resources – including creating model jury instructions and identifying certified real estate appraisers – to assist in bringing disrepair claims. Contact Carl at csessions@lcbh.org to learn more, offer advice, or to schedule training.

We look forward to providing updates as Carl’s project develops.

LCBH is grateful to partner again with Equal Justice Works, an organization that believes that a community of lawyers committed to public service can fulfill our nation’s promise of equal justice for all. Since 1986, they have been facilitating opportunities for law students and lawyers to engage in public service and bring lasting change to under-served communities across our country.