On Wednesday, March 15th and Thursday, March 16th, PILI hosted a Summit for all the Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee Chairs and our statewide agency partners in Springfield. On Wednesday, attendees met for a networking reception and dinner, and were joined by Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier, Justice Thomas Kilbride and Justice Rita Garman of the Illinois Supreme Court. Chief Justice Karmeier delivered remarks, after which each Committee Chair delivered a brief report on their activities.
The group then worked through the day on Thursday to discuss how they could enhance and expand pro bono statewide. Attendees created three cross-circuit working groups to accomplish their goals.
- The first working group will focus on how CLE programming could be replicated more efficiently, while maintaining the local outreach that is at the foundation of the Pro Bono Committees. The goal is to develop and record substantive CLE material across the state that could then be pulled together within one resource point, while also ensuring the programming is relevant to local groups by pairing recorded CLEs with a panel of local experts on a topic.
- The second working group will work on establishing a system of pro bono mentoring to engage more volunteers in pro bono work at all stages of their career. Throughout the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice Listening Tours and PILI’s Pro Bono Forums, pro bono mentoring for lawyers at all stages of their career was consistently identified as a need. Summit attendees discussed mentoring as a good way to involve experienced attorneys who may be able to mentor other volunteers in specific practice areas, and help more attorneys feel comfortable taking on cases outside their practice areas.
- The third working group will focus on developing specific and replicable discrete pro bono opportunities and expanding limited scope representation. This group will work on creating a limited scope representation toolkit with sample forms and instructions. While nothing like this exists now in Illinois, similar toolkits exist in other states. The group will also explore developing limited scope representation and discrete pro bono opportunities that could be easily replicated across the state.
Finally, the group also discussed creating a conflict of interest pro bono referral panels. In many areas, there is only legal aid program serving the community, leaving people in need with nowhere to turn when there is a conflict of interest for that legal aid program. It was generally agreed that PILI is best situated to undertake this much needed endeavor, and initial steps were discussed to set up a pilot program that would hopefully be expanded in the future beyond the pilot.
Overall, it was a successful meeting which generated a lot of enthusiasm and great ideas for expanding and enhancing pro bono across Illinois.
Learn more about our Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees »
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