Northern Illinois University Civil Justice Clinic

The Civil Justice Clinic provides holistic legal services to clients through Northern Illinois University College of Law’ clinical program.  The goal of the Civil Justice Clinic is to provide holistic services to the Clinic’s clients and to provide students and Fellows with opportunities to develop professionalism and engage in the ethical practice of client-centered lawyering.  In July 2018, the Illinois State Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Education, Admissions and Competency honored the Civil Justice Clinic with the Excellence in Legal Education Award.

At the Civil Justice Clinic, the PILI Fellow will engage in client-centered lawyering on behalf of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, as well as senior citizens and indigent residents of Winnebago County, Illinois.  The Civil Justice Clinic represents seniors age 60 or above, as well as disabled individuals, who are the victims of elder abuse and/or financial exploitation in order of protection and guardianship matters, when necessary.  The PILI Fellow will draft estate-planning documents such as Wills and Powers of Attorney for their clients.  The PILI Fellow will represents survivors of abuse seeking Domestic Violence Orders of Protection, Civil No Contact Orders, and Stalking No Contact Orders, and Crime Victims’ Compensation.  While at the Civil Justice Clinic, the PILI Fellows may represent clients in related civil matters involving family law issues such as child custody and child support.  The PILI Fellow will advocate for their client’s rights under the Illinois Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) and the Illinois Safe Homes Act, as needed.

The PILI Fellow will develop a variety of practical skills and gain valuable legal experience handling civil legal matters on behalf of their clients while working at the Civil Justice Clinic.  For example, the PILI Fellow will gain transactional experience and develop interviewing, client counseling, fact investigation, legal research, and writing skills while developing substantive knowledge of elder law, domestic violence, and family law.  While at the Civil Justice Clinic, the PILI Fellow will gain litigation experience and develop trial preparation, negotiation, and written and oral advocacy skills by representing clients in cases involving orders of protection, family law, and other civil issues on behalf of their clients.  While at the Civil Justice Clinic, the PILI Fellow will have many opportunities to apply the Illinois civil procedure, evidentiary rules, and the rules of professional conduct through their representation of individual clients.

The Civil Justice Clinic is located in Rockford, Illinois at Northern Illinois University College of Law’s clinical facility, the Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic, in Rockford, Illinois.  The Clinic has been providing free legal services, to indigent residents of Winnebago County, Illinois for over fifteen years.

The PILI Fellow will be directly supervised by Clinical Associate Professor Wendy Vaughn.  Professor Vaughn has been teaching at NIU College for the last twelve years.  In addition to supervising the Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic in Rockford and directing the Civil Justice Clinic, Professor Vaughn also teaches family law and poverty law courses at the College of Law.  Professor Vaughn is an active member of the Illinois State Bar Association and is the past president of Prairie State Legal Services’ Board of Directors.  In 2018, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Professor Vaughn to the Commission on Access to Justice.

This agency is approved to host Graduate Fellows.