PILI launched two new Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees in the Second and Twenty-Third Judicial Circuits in September.
The Second Judicial Circuit is in the Fifth Appellate District and includes Crawford, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jefferson, Lawrence, Richland, Wabash, Wayne and White Counties. The Second Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will be chaired by the Honorable Jo Beth Weber, a resident circuit judge in Jefferson County. Funding for this new committee and the work PILI will be doing in the Second Circuit is, in part, made possible through the State of Illinois’ Restore, Reinvest, Renew (R3) Program. R3 grants fund programs in Illinois communities that have been harmed by violence, excessive incarceration, and economic disinvestment and PILI was a member of the inaugural R3 funding class.
Prior to the first committee meeting, PILI participated in the Hand Up Summit held in Mt. Vernon in August at which PILI staff meet with those seeking pro bono assistance with expungement and/or sealing of their criminal records who were ineligible to receive assistance through Land of Lincoln Legal Aid. PILI is currently working to place those cases with local pro bono attorneys. At its first meeting, the committee also discussed a variety of projects to expand and enhance pro bono across the circuit.
The Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit is in the Second Appellate District and includes DeKalb and Kendall Counties. The Twenty-Third Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee will be co-chaired by Associate Judge John F. McAdams, currently based in Kendall County, and Associate Judge Joseph C. Pedersen, currently based in DeKalb County. Funding for this new committee is made possible through the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, which provides a significant amount of funding for PILI’s work through most of its committees.
In its first meeting, the committee discussed planning a CLE program to promote the need for pro bono and to identify ways in which local attorneys could get involved in pro bono. The committee also discussed holding a virtual Illinois Free Legal Answers clinic and possibly an expungement clinic.
With these additions, PILI now manages 11 Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees across the state. The first such committee was launched in 2011, with all of the committees striving to increase equal access to justice by promoting and enhancing pro bono legal services within a specific judicial circuit by:
- Raising awareness of the need for free or low-cost legal services;
- Identifying and reducing barriers to providing free or low-cost legal services;
- Promoting pro bono legal services and recruiting attorneys and legal professionals to participate in existing pro bono programs;
- Identifying gaps in the delivery of legal services to low-income individuals and families and developing innovative approaches to filling those gaps through pro bono; and
- Recognizing the pro bono contributions of attorneys and legal professionals.
Each Committee consists of members of the judiciary as well as pro bono leaders from local law firms, corporations, bar associations, and public interest law organizations. All of the Committees differ in size and their goals vary depending on the local make-up of the circuit. In addition to these two new committees, PILI also have committees in the following circuits: First Circuit, Third Circuit, Fifth Circuit, Sixth Circuit, Tenth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit, Fourteenth Circuit, Eighteenth Circuit and Twentieth Circuit.
Learn more about the Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees >>