For 50 years, LAF attorneys and staff have worked tirelessly to provide free civil legal services for people living poverty. These problems include, but are not limited to domestic violence, veteran’s benefits, subsidized housing eviction defense, consumer fraud, and employment discrimination.
At LAF, it has always been our commitment to provide the highest quality of service and deliver equal justice to the residents of Cook County who are most in need. However, with the harsh reality of government budget cuts, our services have never been needed more.
Alongside our staff, LAF also works with all types of volunteers, both attorneys and other professionals, to achieve this goal. With the help of our volunteers, LAF runs a variety of pro bono projects; legal clinics, help desks, and panels. All of these offer a unique opportunity to engage with a diverse population, and helps us reach clients that might otherwise go unserved. We also host a number of in-house volunteers on a weekly basis that assist our staff with substantive legal help as well as administrative and clerical tasks. We also utilize volunteers from a variety of professions to assist in matters we are not experts in.
We are currently seeking volunteers for the following Pro Bono Projects. Please check back regularly, as our pro bono opportunities often change. If you would like to share your time and talents or are interested in receiving more information about any of our projects, please submit a volunteer application.
If you have volunteered with an LAF project, you can report your Pro Bono Hours here.
ADAPT Pro Bono Project
Volunteer with ADAPT—Advance Directives and Property Transfers for seniors. Pro bono attorneys help seniors prepare for the future by assisting with Advance Directives-- Powers of Attorney for Health Care and Property and Living Wills. Volunteers meet with clients, gather information, and prepare paperwork to complete the advance directive or property transfer documents.
• Time Commitment: Volunteers serve for 3 hour shifts, and are asked to commit to a minimum of 3 shifts per month.
• Qualifications: No prior experience required. Must be an attorney in good standing in Illinois.
• Training & Benefits: eLearning training which can be done from your home or office. Manuals, online resources, and other materials provided along with support from LAF attorneys.
Education Law Pro Bono Project
The Education Law Pro Bono Project is a clinic that mobilizes volunteer attorneys to interview and advise parents and students with special education and school discipline needs. Volunteers then draft and review documents, addressing any immediate needs. There is an opportunity to provide extended representation when cases require it, and if the volunteer is able and available.
• Time Commitment: 2.5-5 hours per month with opportunities for extended representation.
• Qualifications: No prior experience required. Must be an attorney in good standing in Illinois.
• Training & Benefits: 3 hour Intro to Education Law training. Manuals, online resources, and other materials provided along with support from LAF attorneys.
Orders of Protection Litigation Project
This project provides direct representation to victims of domestic violence who are seeking to obtain an Order of Protection at the west suburban Maybrook Courthouse.
• Time Commitment: 3-9 weeks with 1-2 court appearances
• Qualifications: No prior litigation or domestic violence experience is required.
• Training & Benefits: Online training. LAF provides ongoing support to volunteers
Bankruptcy Help Desk at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse
Volunteers and staff help clients prepare forms, draft motions and answer questions about bankruptcy in general, or the client’s case in particular.
• Time commitment: 3-4 hour shift with a minimum of 6 shifts per year. Qualifications: Must have at least 1 year of experience practicing bankruptcy law and maintain a license to practice law.
• Training & Benefits: Must complete a 90-minute online Training & Benefits that can be done at the volunteer’s home or office.
Legal Clinic SNAP Pro Bono Attorney
LAF runs a legal clinic in the Woodlawn neighborhood, on the Southside of Chicago, once a month. We offer SNAP (food stamps) calculations for clients while they wait. We advise clients who are eligible for additional SNAP benefits about how to get an increase and explain how to apply if clients are not getting SNAP but appear to be eligible. This volunteer will be trained to run calculations and to provide advice, depending on the client’s circumstances.
• Time Commitment: 3.5 hours per month at the clinic, plus approximately 4 hours per month of follow up work. The follow up can be done at LAF’s office in the loop, or from the volunteer’s home or office.
• Qualifications: License to practice law in Illinois
• Training & Benefits: LAF will provide training, and LAF attorneys will be present at each clinic for ongoing support.
Pro Bono Counsel Corps
Volunteers are assigned to one of LAF’s five practice groups (Consumer, Children and Family, Housing, Immigrant and Workers’ Rights, and Public Benefits) according to interest, experience, and need. Volunteers function as part-time staff attorneys, take on a comfortable caseload, and participate in agency trainings and meetings.
• Time Commitment: 1 full day a week for at least 1 year; 2 years is preferred.
• Qualifications: Senior level attorney is preferred; newer attorneys may volunteer, as long as they are able to fulfill the time commitment. Volunteers must have an Illinois law license.
• Training & Benefits: Extensive training on the substantive law of the practice group and ongoing mentorship with an experienced attorney in the field will be provided.
Pro Bono Panel
Volunteers receive a monthly email containing cases where LAF seeks collaboration with or help from a volunteer attorney. Cases include both transactional and litigation matters.
• Time Commitment: Varies based on the case.
• Qualifications: The panel includes cases appropriate for both experienced and inexperienced attorneys. Volunteers must have an Illinois law license.
• Training & Benefits: No formal training is provided but LAF will provide mentorship and ongoing support as needed.
SNAP Pro Bono Project
Volunteer attorneys and paralegals provide telephone advocacy on behalf of food stamp recipients who are having problems receiving their benefits.
• Time commitment: Varies by case. Most cases can be resolved with phone calls and emails. For cases that cannot be resolved, volunteers may provide continued representation through the hearing. LAF staff are also available to take cases to hearing as needed.
• Qualifications: No prior experience necessary.
• Training & Benefits: CLE training and reference manuals provided.
The William J. Hibbler Memorial Pro Se Assistance Program
Volunteers assist pro se litigants at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse by reviewing documents, providing guidance on the discovery process, and assisting them through all phases of litigation.
• Time Commitment: One 3-hour shift per month.
• Qualifications: Volunteers must have a law license and 3-5 years of federal court experience. Experience in employment discrimination law is helpful, but not required.
• Training & Benefits: Volunteers receive a half-day on-site training that consists of observing one shift of appointments, followed by an opportunity for the LAF staff attorney to observe and provide feedback to the volunteer. Volunteers receive ongoing mentoring and support from an experienced staff attorney.
For Other Professionals:
LAF Young Professionals Board
The LAF Young Professionals Board (YPB) is dedicated to supporting the mission and programs of LAF through social events, fundraising initiatives, and community outreach efforts.
• Time Commitment: Attend a minimum of two quarterly meetings and a minimum of two fundraising events per year.
• Qualifications: None required. YPB membership is not limited to attorneys; law students, paralegals, and professionals outside the legal community are welcome and highly encouraged to get involved.
• Training & Benefits: The Board offers great networking and board skill-development opportunities to professionals who are dedicated to making philanthropic engagement a core part of their careers.
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Project
Volunteer Ombudsmen visit nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and skilled living facilities in suburban Cook County to investigate and resolve complaints. Ombudsmen also help on a systemic level when multiple residents of a facility are facing a problem. Ombudsmen educate residents, family, staff and the community about residents’ rights.
• Time Commitment: 4 hours a month.
• Qualifications: Must be over the age of 18 and be able to travel.
• Training & Benefits: Volunteers receive a 2-day training at LAF and will receive ongoing support.
Financial Consulting Project
Volunteers from financial consulting and accounting industries perform forensic investigations to detect hidden assets, financial modeling to determine the value of assets or a business, assist in the preparation of materials for presentation in court, or in certain cases, communicate their findings in the form of a written report or as oral testimony.
• Time Commitment: Varies by case.
• Qualifications: Volunteers must have experience in litigation consulting, fraud investigations, forensic accounting, or business valuation.
Volunteers with graphic design experience will help create and redesign brochures, flyers, and other outreach materials that we use to share information about our work.
• Time Commitment: The project will be ongoing until the materials are finished with a completion goal of November 2016. You may work from your home or office, at your convenience.
• Qualifications: Must be a graphic design student or professional.
• Training & Benefits: Materials can be added to your portfolio.
Although you may not see a project that utilizes your skillset, we are always open to discussing a potential volunteer role. If you possess any of the following skills, we’d love to hear from you as well.
• Accounting & Finance
• Community Engagement
• Data Management
• Fundraising or Special Events Support
• Graphic Design
• Marketing & Public Relations
• Real Estate
• Social Work
Looking for internship and fellowship opportunities with LAF?
Visit our Jobs & Internships page.