Welcome to LCBH’s Blog. Our blog delivers original articles written by our staff, interns and volunteers. We strive to provide informative stories about the work we do on behalf of Chicago renters and the issues renters face.
Catie Cottle, Jim Medek and Christine Payne from Kirkland & Ellis LLP
LCBH recognizes these volunteers for dedicating their time and energy to LCBH over the past year. These individuals choose to come to LCBH to learn and make a difference in the lives of others.
Pat Quinn, Governor of Illinois
Pat Quinn was sworn in as the 41st Governor of Illinois on January 29, 2009, and won election to a full term in 2010. Since taking office, Governor Quinn has made job creation and economic growth his top priority. His $43 billion capital construction initiative – which will retain or create about 436,000 jobs over six years – includes the $12 billion “Move Illinois” project, one of the nation’s biggest infrastructure endeavors. Illinois has moved forward on social justice under Governor Quinn, who abolished the death penalty, improved nursing home conditions and legalized civil unions for all people. Governor Quinn has long been a true advocate for those in our state who need it most. With new legislation passed by Governor Quinn that will protect renters in foreclosure (SB56) and benefit those who truly need legal assistance and cannot afford it (SB3111 Access to Justice), LCBH is honored to have Governor Quinn join us this evening.
Cecelia Blue may not be our oldest volunteer, but she certainly ranks near the top for longtime commitment to LCBH and our clients - she first began volunteering at LCBH over a decade ago! Cecelia started out with the old Attorney of the Day program, stepping up in court to cover status hearings and settle cases. She left LCBH for a time while pursuing other opportunities, and then, late last year, she boomeranged back to LCBH after hearing about a training for new volunteers. What brought her back after all those years? She says, "I remembered what a positive experience it was. You see people floundering by themselves in court, struggling to represent themselves pro se, because they cannot afford a lawyer. I believe people should be able to get a high quality attorney even if they can't afford one."
For Cecelia, those aren't empty words; it's a way of life. She is serious about pro bono work and treats it like it’s her job, often spending more hours on her assorted pro bono projects than on her own business. In any given week you might find Cecelia at the Dwight Correctional Facility, where she helps incarcerated mothers petition to preserve their parental rights, or at the Daley Center, where she serves as a guardian ad litem (court appointed attorney) in family law cases. When she's not doing pro bono work, she finds time to squeeze in her own paying clients through her accounting and law practices.
Claudine is a single, working mom who is raising her young daughter and teenage son in the West Rogers Park apartment that she has called home since 2007. Claudine has always been a good tenant; she pays her rent on time and takes care of her home. Unfortunately, she is one of the thousands of tenants in Chicago who, each year, find themselves living at the mercy of dangerously irresponsible landlords.
Last fall, Claudine noticed a leak in her ceiling. In October, she wrote a letter to her landlord asking him to fix it. He failed to respond and the leak began to grow bigger. In November and again in December, she made two more written demands for repairs. The landlord continued to ignore her requests.
On January 10th, Claudine woke up in the night to a huge noise coming from inside her apartment. The ceiling had caved in over her son's bed and debris had fallen directly on top of him. The collapse broke her son's computer and damaged the bed. It also caused Claudine's son to suffer a concussion and, several months later, he was still experiencing post-concussive symptoms such as headaches. Even after the collapse, the landlord refused to address the conditions in the apartment. Not only would he not fix the leak, but he wouldn't even patch up the hole in the roof or remove the debris. The bedroom became unusable, forcing the family to double up in the other bedroom.
LCBH is partnering with the Association of Corporate Counsel and the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius to host a day of pro bono training in late May. In-house attorneys from several Chicago-area companies will attend the program and learn about the latest developments impacting the rights of tenants in foreclosure. After the training, attendees will be able to volunteer with the LCBH Tenants in Foreclosure Helpline, delivering one-on-one legal advice and counseling services for tenants whose buildings have gone into foreclosure.
LCBH offers trainings and presentations on a number of issues affecting renters including renters’ rights, foreclosure, and fair housing. Trainings are designed for specific audiences to provide pertinent information. Whether you are an attorney, housing advocate, social worker, community organizer, landlord, or renter, our trainings will provide you with valuable and useful information.
If you’re interested in scheduling a training or presentation, please contact us at (312) 347-7600 for more information.
Most people think of summer as a time for picnics, pools, and popsicles. For some of our dedicated volunteers, however, summertime meant pro bono time!
LCBH paired up with two different law firms over the summer to create pro bono opportunities for summer associate law students. Summer associates from Brinks Gilson & Lione and Jones Day worked with senior associates and partners within their firms to handle cases screened and supervised by an LCBH staff attorney. Each summer associate was able to work directly with clients to help resolve difficult housing situations through negotiation, motion writing, and their first court appearances.
We’d like to share one story that had a particularly wonderful outcome. A team of pro bono attorneys from Brinks Gilson & Lione represented June and her five children in an eviction court case. June and her family had lived in their apartment building, subsidized by the Chicago Housing Authority, for several years. The family had never had any serious problems with management, and June liked the apartment’s proximity to her children’s school. However, in the early summer everything changed when June received an eviction notice from her landlord. The notice accused June of (1) allowing a friend to stay overnight in the apartment for three days, (2) propping open the back door of the building, and (3) damaging the gate to the building.
When we ask attorneys why they don’t do pro bono, a few answers routinely pop up: I am not eligible, or I don’t have time to dedicate to long cases.
Fortunately, the Illinois Supreme Court recently implemented a number of new rules designed to make it easier than ever for attorneys to engage in pro bono work. Under the new rules, out-of-state licensed attorneys, in-house counsel, and inactive attorneys can provide pro bono services in Illinois. This will allow a new group of attorneys to provide pro bono services in Illinois without having to go through an extensive and costly registration process.
The biggest change, however, is the introduction of Limited Scope Representation (LSR). LSR allows legal aid agencies like LCBH to file a limited appearance in a case to perform a discrete task for a client. This can range from appearing at one court date to argue a motion for summary judgment to negotiating a settlement to stepping up on a trial date. Once the task is completed, regardless of the outcome, the attorney can withdraw orally and the court must agree. This allows the LSR attorney to provide a critical and immediate service and not worry about breaching professional responsibility duties.
At LCBH, we are experimenting with new ways to use LSR to serve more clients and provide more volunteer opportunities to our pro bono attorneys. Using LSR, we can handle small parts of complex cases and experiment with new legal strategies.