Rights, Only if you have Money

Sometimes our clients can articulate the importance of our work better than we can.  That happened to our partners at Maine’s Pine Tree Legal Assistance this week.  Heather Denkmire, an artist and writer who lives in Maine and has struggled with poverty, wrote a column in the Bangor Daily News that puts a face on the sorts of civil legal issues our clients face every day and illustrates why providing them with legal help is so important.  She sums it up perfectly here:

The deck is stacked against people living in poverty as it is. The consequences when they dare to fight injustices are serious, not simply inconvenient. Homes, jobs, health and families are at risk for people in poverty who need help with civil legal issues. Fairness in the justice system should not depend on how much money someone has.

Read her whole column here.


Joe Pedota and The Claro Group: YPB Member and Golf Outing Sponsors

Young Professionals Board Member Joe Pedota, a Director in The Claro Group’s Government Contract Consulting practice, has been a crucial part in making this year’s upcoming Golf Outing possible.  Not only is he one of our Golf Outing co-chairs, alongside Chris Schneider, but he has also secured a sponsorship for the drink cart from The Claro Group.  We are very grateful for Joe and his efforts to ensure that the Golf Outing, which takes place on September 21 at Harborside International Golf Center, will be a success.

Pedota-200We know Joe has many talents when it comes to consulting, but we wanted to see if that translated to golf.  He shared with us his most embarrassing moment on the course: “On vacation several years ago, I went water skiing for the first time and then went golfing.  For the first two holes, I couldn’t hang on to my club because my forearms were so weak from water skiing.  Every time I swung the club, it would fly out of my hand on the follow through.”

Joe joined our YPB because he believes in the difference LAF makes in the lives of their clients and he feels lucky to work beside so many dedicated members on the executive committee.

Thanks for all of your hard work, Joe, and for being a good sport!  We hope you can hang onto your clubs at Harborside on September 21! Tickets and sponsorships can be purchased here.

August 2015 eNewsletter

Almost every culture on earth teaches respect for elders, but too often we fail to live up to those ideals.  Seniors can fall through the cracks and find themselves struggling without support to protect their homes, their savings, or their health.  At LAF, we see stories like this every day.  In this month’s eNewsletter, you can read more about LAF’s efforts to provide top legal services to seniors in Chicagoland, including Caroline Longstreet’s expertise defending an elderly widow’s home, Dolores Cole’s outreach connecting with the Rush Generations program, and Christian Arizmendi’s quick thinking that saved a client’s life.
As always, on behalf of the staff, the Board, the YPB, and all the clients we serve here at LAF, thank you for your generosity and support of our work.  When you invest in LAF, you help people get back on their feet and make our community stronger.  Read more about our work in this month’s eNewsletter.

Larry Wood wins New Yorker Caption Contest once again!

Larry Wood, the Director of LAF’s Housing Practice Group, has won the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest for a record sixth time. With the competitive reputation of this contest, we are very impressed that Larry has once again come out on top. In a recent interview with Chicago Magazine, he let us all in on his secrets to success.

He explains that there are four key points when it comes to creating the captions; embrace the weirdness, keep it brief, avoid exclamation points, and don’t bury the punch line.

Way to go, Larry! We love seeing you shine in and out of the courtroom!

Click here for the official interview, and the winning captions from the New Yorker. 


Juvenile Expungement and Second Chances

CaptureThis week, a feature in The Atlantic explored the world of the juvenile justice system and the long-term impact it has on children’s lives after an arrest.  After a person turns 18, their juvenile arrest record is supposed to be sealed, and they should be able to start life as an adult with a clean slate.  But — especially in the age of the internet — those sealed records have a way of sticking around and continuing to disrupt the lives of people struggling to get by after a youthful mistake.

In the feature, LAF’s Dennericka Brooks explains some of those ongoing consequences, like a family being kicked out of their apartment because a child has an arrest record:

‘“[It’s] not entirely clear how they get the records,” said Dennericka Brooks, a senior attorney at Chicago’s Legal Assistance Foundation.  “But they do.” […] The catalyst for an eviction may be small — Brooks cited cases based on trespass by teenagers or an argument between mother and daughter — but the effects can create lifelong reverberations.  Families lose their vouchers for publicly assisted housing and often disperse across the city or county; parents and children become separated, dependent on the largesse of friends with an open couch or a guest bed.  And parents who try to settle with housing authorities outside of trial are generally told that the rest of the family can remain in the apartment only if the accused juvenile is kicked out.

LAF works on the front lines to help young people with a juvenile record in Cook County to permanently seal or completely erase their juvenile records, through our Juvenile Expungement Help Desk and Expungement Project.  Read the whole Atlantic feature here, and check out LAF’s Expunge.io app here.


Katten Muchin Rosenman: Golf Outing and De Diego Clinic Sponsors

Open since April 2013, this public school-based legal clinic is a partnership between the law firm of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP and LAF. Much like the DLA Piper Woodlawn Clinic, the Katten Legal Clinic at Jose de Diego Community Academy provides legal advice and extended representation to the entire school community including students, their families, eligible staff, and the broader neighborhood. Katten attorneys and University of Chicago law students interview clients in both English and Spanish and gather information about the legal problems the clients are facing. Then, with oversight by LAF staff attorneys, clients are advised on their legal options and guided on next steps. In many cases, Katten attorneys will provide ongoing, extended representation to clients from the Clinic, with support from LAF.

Blog Post - Katten photoJonathan Baum, Katten’s Director of Pro Bono Services, explains: “The De Diego Clinic has provided one of the most rewarding experiences of my legal career, and I know many of my Katten colleagues would say the same. And it simply wouldn’t have been possible without the expertise, dedication, and passion of our partners at LAF.”

We are grateful for Katten’s dedication to the De Diego community, and for their ongoing support of LAF. They have stepped up as Lunch Sponsors for our upcoming Golf Outing, at the Harborside International Golf Center on Monday, September 21. Tickets and more are available here.