eNewsletter - May 2017


  
     LAF eNewsletter
May 2017     
EQUAL JUSTICE STARTS HERE.
In This Newsletter
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Meet Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP and the De Diego Legal Clinic
 
Keith Forrest, Litigation Paralegal Supervisor at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, and LAF Volunteer
 
It’s 4 PM, and the students at Jose De Diego Community Academy have gone home for the day. LAF staff and pro bono volunteers gather in a small cluster of rooms in the school’s basement, in what used to be the nurses office. On the third Wednesday of each month, this tight space serves as headquarters for the Katten De Diego Legal Clinic, a partnership between Katten Muchin Rosenman and LAF that provides free legal services to low-income residents of surrounding west Wicker Park (or east Humboldt Park, depending on whom you ask).
 
But tonight is particularly special, as the clinic will be closing its doors for the summer months and reopening in September. The hearty team of volunteers from Katten include two new faces, but most are the usual suspects—like Alyse Sagalchik, an associate at Katten and a winner of LAF’s 2017 volunteer of the year award. “It’s a unique opportunity to do what I see as a moral obligation as lawyers—to dedicate our time and resources to help people who otherwise wouldn’t have legal representation,” she says. “It’s doing good for other people, but I also feel good doing it.”
 
The thermostat reads 83° and with only eight chairs, the waiting room is full before the clinic officially opens at 4:30. Keith Forrest, Litigation Paralegal Supervisor at Katten and one of the volunteers who helped open the clinic in April 2013, assigns volunteers to each of the four small offices (formerly examination rooms) where they meet one-on-one with clients. “The volume of clients we’re seeing has gone up. But we’ve learned to be more efficient, and gotten better at knowing what questions to ask,” says Jonathan Baum, Katten’s Director of Pro Bono Services and long-time volunteer at the clinic. “It’s my home away from home—I love this place.”
 
In another small room just off the waiting room area, volunteers process intake forms and consult with each other on cases. “It’s neat to see attorneys from the private sector come out to do this kind of work—not because they have to, but because they want to,” says Dana Harbaugh, AmeriCorps VISTA Attorney at LAF who's in charge of coordinating LAF’s legal clinics. Jared Heck, a partner at Katten who specializes in healthcare litigation and a longtime member of LAF’s Young Professionals Board, is a prime example. “You can actually see and feel the difference that you’re making,” he says.
 
By 7 PM, the flurry of activity has slowed and the group prepares to close up shop for the season. The steadfast team of volunteers saw 16 clients that night. Katten will beworking on a number of their cases pro bono, even as the clinic is dark over the summer. With Katten’s pro bono volunteers and financial support, LAF will continue to provide the families of the Jose De Diego Academy and their neighbors with legal solutions to their civil problems.
 
Check out LAF on Social Media!
Follow us on Twitter at @ChicagoLAF, like our Facebook page, catch up with us on Instagram,
and read our blog at lafchicago.wordpress.com to keep up with all our work!
 
 
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Pledge your ongoing support to LAF and make your recurring gift today!
 

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A special message
from LAF
Executive Director
Diana C. White
 
President Trump’s 2018 proposed budget, published last week, again proposes to defund the Legal Services Corporation, the source of 45% of LAF's anual funding. While this would have a devastating impact on LAF, we’ve doubled down on proving how important LAF is by working harder than ever at making sure that people living in poverty have a fair shot at justice. And people seem to have noticed! Just this month, our own Dolores Cole and the Community Engagement Unit were surprised with a Program Champion award from the Rush Generations program, for their work educating older adults on their rights. Volunteer John Held received the Federal Bar Association and the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’ Excellence in Pro Bono and Public Interest Service Award. And I was honored by the Rotary Club of Chicago among their outstanding Women of the Year. 
 
On behalf of everyone at LAF, as well as our and clients and communities, thank you for your continued support. Your gifts of time and money are our most steadfast and reliable source of income and they ensure that LAF will remain strong even as political winds blow. 
 
Best,
 
Diana C. White
LAF Executive Director
 
 
Luncheon Tickets On Sale Now 
Join LAF to Honor Kelly McNamara Corley, Dennericka Brooks, and Diana White
 
 
In less than a month, you can join LAF for its annual Luncheon, on Friday, June 23rd, at the Palmer House Hilton! This year, we will present our Champion for Justice to Kelly McNamara Corley of Discover, for her company's dedication to justice for people living in poverty. We will present our Jerold S. Solovy Equal Justice Award to LAF Housing Supervisory Attorney Dennericka Brooks, whose exceptional work is a testament to our mission and to Jerry Solovy's legacy.  We will also congratulate Executive Director Diana White on her retirement.  And, of course, we will hear from a client who will tell you directly about the impact that LAF can have for people with nowhere else to turn.  
 
Tickets cost $150 each, and a table for ten costs $5,000, and are on sale now.  Get your tickets here!
 
 
A Story of Immigration
and Family Reunion 
Consumer Attorney Kari Beyer saves
home for Tran and her parents
 
Tran moved to the United States from Vietnam, and shortly after, her parents sold the family home, and sent the money they got for it to Tran to buy a home here. She bought a lovely co-op apartment, but at the closing, she was convinced to put another person’s name on the title along with her own, in case of emergencies. Recently, Tran’s parents also moved to join her here in the U.S. 
 
When a creditor of the other person on the title came seeking payment from their co-op unit, Tran came to LAF for help. LAF was wary to take her case, because of the difficulty of explaining why the other person’s name was also on the title. Senior Attorney Kari Beyer was undeterred, however. With pro bono help from Jenner & Block LLP, Kari proved to the creditor and the judges that our client was always intended to be the true owner, and that the paperwork showed this, even if the names were different. 
 
Because of Kari’s work, Tran and her parents are safe in their home for good. 
 
 
A Memorial Day Veterans Update 
And a Look at the Veterans Legal Help Desk
 
As we honor the men and women who have given their lives while serving in the armed forces, it’s important to think about how we can better serve the veterans in our community who served alongside them. 
 
According to the CHALENG for Veterans Progress Report, legal assistance is one of the greatest unmet needs among veterans. In fact, legal issues make up 5 of the 10 greatest unmet needs CHALENG identifies, including legal assistance for evictions and foreclosures, driver’s license suspensions, child support arrearages, and outstanding warrants and fines. Thanks to LAF’s Veterans Legal Clinic, held the third Thursday of each month at the Community Resource and Referral Center near Douglas Park, more Chicago veterans have access to the legal help they need.
 
Supervisory Attorney Kathyrn Socha, Veterans Legal Corps Fellow Ellen Rheaume, and Hilary Gordon, AmeriCorps VISTA tasked with coordinating the clinic, are on the frontlines each month, alongside two attorneys from LAF’s Veterans Task Force that serve the clinic on a rotating basis. With only a few cubicles at their disposal, space is limited. And since only about half of the clients they see make appointments ahead of time, work at the Veterans Clinic is a flurry of activity.
 
Each client meets with an attorney for one hour, enabling the attorney not only to provide brief services and referrals, but also to screen for extended representation. The clinic, along with LAF’s Veteran Hotline which lets veterans and their family members bypass LAF’s regular intake process and speak with an expert in veterans’ issues, are part of LAF’s greater outreach efforts to reduce homelessness and unemployment among veterans in our community.
 
Hilary shares the story of one former client — a veteran and public housing resident who came to the clinic seeking a building transfer. “He suffered from an untreated psychotic disorder and believed he was being watched in his apartment,” she explains. “We were able to work with his doctor to get a disability accommodation so he could move to a quieter building where he now feels safer.”
 
 
The Elephant in the Room 
A Human Trafficking Update to the 
Blog Series about Systemic Racism
 
The Atlantic recently published a poignant article that details how a family enslaved a Filipino woman, forcing her into domestic servitude, for decades. For many readers, this article exposed them to the insidious nature of human trafficking. Read the second installment in the Elephant in the Room series on our blog to see how LAF works to fight trafficking every day.  Read it now at lafchicago.wordpress.com.  
 
 
Check out LAF on Social Media!
 
Follow us on Twitter at @ChicagoLAF, like our Facebook page, catch up with us on Instagram, and read our blog at lafchicago.wordpress.com to keep up with all our work!
 
 
Sign up for Monthly Giving!
Pledge your ongoing support to LAF and
make your recurring gift today!
 
  
LAF
EQUAL JUSTICE STARTS HERE.

For more than 50 years, LAF has provided free legal services in non-criminal matters to the poorest and most vulnerable people in our community, ensuring they have the same access to legal services as those who can afford it.  By resolving critical legal problems that systemically trap people in poverty, such as domestic violence, consumer fraud, and unfair evictions, LAF has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals get their lives back on track and given them hope for a brighter future.  
We rely on the generosity of individuals and companies to provide the private support we need to fulfill our mission.  
 
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