The Public Interest Law Initiative has launched the Illinois Pro Bono Pledge through Pro Bono Committees in the Third, Fifth, Sixth, Tenth and Fourteenth Judicial Circuits. While the Illinois legal community has a longstanding tradition of providing pro bono legal assistance, the number of unrepresented individuals and families has increased significantly, and more pro bono assistance is needed. The Pro Bono Pledge encourages and recognizes lawyers providing free legal assistance to low-income individuals and families.
The Pledge calls on law firms and corporate legal departments to:
- Encourage their attorneys and legal staff to provide pro bono legal services and in doing so, provide an environment which is hospitable to the rendition of such services;
- Designate a primary pro bono point of contact within the firm or corporate law department;
- Consider adopting a written pro bono policy; and
- Recognize attorneys and legal staff who participate in pro bono services, as appropriate.
The Pro Bono Pledge was formally launched in the Tenth Judicial Circuit in March 2014 and its reach continues to grow. Most recently, the Fifth and Sixth Judicial Circuits rolled out the Pledge in the spring of 2015. To date, over 100 law firms, corporations and individual attorneys have demonstrated their commitment to pro bono by signing on to their Judicial Circuit’s Pro Bono Pledge.
The Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees are groups of lawyers and judges working to enlist, educate and recognize attorneys dedicated to pro bono work across Illinois. The ultimate goal is to expand the reach of legal aid to poor and underrepresented communities. These committees were launched by PILI in partnership with Prairie State Legal Services and Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation.