Public Interest Law Initiative

IBF, ILAO & PILI Announce Changes to Illinois Free Legal Answers

Posted on: July 16, 2019

The Illinois Bar Foundation (IBF), Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) and Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) are excited to announce their combined efforts to further the impact of Free Legal Answers in Illinois. After establishing this project in Illinois in 2017 and building a solid foundation for its future, ILAO will transition the state administrator role for the site to PILI as of August 1, 2019. At that time, PILI will take over the day-to-day operations of the site including volunteer recruitment, management and training with the help of funding from the IBF. ILAO will continue to contribute invaluable support through www.IllinoisLegalAid.org by providing client referrals and being a resource for pro bono volunteers answering questions through the site.

“The IBF is proud to have been the primary funder of ILAO’s efforts to launch Illinois Free Legal Answers and in only three years, making it an indispensable resource to help narrow the justice gap in Illinois between those who need civil legal assistance from a lawyer and those who can afford one,” said Deane B. Brown, IBF President and Shareholder with Hughes Socol Piers Resnick Dym, Ltd. “We’re equally thrilled to support PILI’s efforts to utilize its growing statewide expertise in recruiting attorneys to provide pro bono service through Illinois Free Legal Answers”

A project of the American Bar Association, Free Legal Answers is a secure website where lower-income Illinois residents can ask a lawyer for help with a legal issue. Qualified users post questions about civil legal problems. Volunteer lawyers then log onto the site and select questions to answer. It’s a virtual walk-in legal clinic.

Under ILAO’s leadership, since its launch in 2017, 3,435 questions have been answered by volunteer attorneys through Illinois Free Legal Answers. “This statewide partnership for PILI and ILAO is exciting,” said ILAO Executive Director Elizabeth Evans, “It opens so many doors toward our shared mission of extending legal support and increasing access to justice in every Illinois community. Together we will go further, faster.”

Over the several past years, PILI has partnered with ILAO to organize several Free Legal Answers clinics around the state. Building off the strong foundation laid by ILAO, PILI plans to use the structure of their statewide Pro Bono Program to expand pro bono participation on the site to help even more people in need.

“We are excited to offer this new opportunity to our volunteers and to incorporate Free Legal Answers in with our other pro bono projects,” said Michel G. Bergmann, PILI’s Executive Director. “We are so grateful for the work of ILAO in launching the site in Illinois and look forward to continuing our work together helping people in need of legal services.”

For attorneys and clients who would like to use the site to ask and answer legal questions, the website address will remain il.freelegalanswers.org.

About IBF:  Almost 70 years ago, a handful of visionary leaders founded the Illinois Bar Foundation. Their initial commitment was to provide aid to deserving members of the Illinois Bar who, because of age or infirmity, could no longer provide for their own care or support. Since then, the Foundation has expanded its scope to include enhancing meaningful access to the civil justice system, especially for those with limited means. To learn more about the IBF, visit www.illinoisbarfoundation.org, or contact IBF Executive Director, Dave Anderson, by email or by phone at 312-920-4683.

About ILAO: For 18 years, ILAO has simplified the law so that all people can resolve their problems. Through innovation, they lower barriers to the law so that people can understand their legal options, make informed decisions and, when necessary, represent themselves in court. To learn more about ILAO, visit www.illinoislegalaid.org, or contact ILAO Executive Director, Elizabeth Evans, by email or by phone at 312-977-9047, extension 11.

About PILI: PILI engages, inspires and empowers those advancing equal access to justice. They envision making equal access to justice a reality through a legal community with a deeply rooted culture of service, where pro bono and public interest law engagement is optimized to best serve people, families and communities in need. To learn more about PILI, visit www.pili.org, or contact PILI Executive Director, Michael Bergmann, at by email or by phone at 312-832-5129.

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