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Volunteer Spotlights

Through its statewide network of pro bono volunteers, the PILI community is Empowered to Advocate. These volunteers are critical to PILI's ability to provide assistance to individuals, families and communities in need across Illinois through our menu of pro bono opportunities.  We look forward to featuring one of our volunteers in our newsletter, The PILI Post.

2024 Pro Bono Honor Roll Awardees

Christopher Crawford
Quinn Johnston

Christopher focuses his practice on handling matters in the areas of workers’ compensation and employment defense. He became a partner in the firm in 2014.  He routinely tries workers’ compensation cases before the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission, handles appeals and civil litigation. Christopher volunteers with PILI’s Conflict of Interest Pro Bono Referral Panel in the Tenth Judicial Circuit, working with clients who have been denied service from a participating agency due to a conflict of interest. Christopher explains his commitment to pro bono as follows, "I do pro bono because everyone needs access to good legal representation. I am mindful of my duty to be a good citizen. Donating money is great, but donating time is even better."

Brittany Elliott
Embrich & Elliott Law

Brittany is a Founding Partner of Embrich & Elliot Law with a focus on family law and civil litigation. After graduating from law school, She gained experience working as a court appointed guardian ad litem and public defender. Brittany volunteers with PILI’s Self-Represented Litigant Help Desk in the Third Judicial Circuit to help self-represented litigants understand and navigate the legal process, fill out forms and answer questions. According to Brittany, "I believe it is an attorney’s duty to utilize their knowledge and services to assist those regardless of financial circumstances."

Harold Hilborn
Much Shelist, P.C.

Harold serves as Vice Chair pf the firm's Health Care group using extensive trial and appellate practice to help health care providers resolve business and regulatory disputes. He provides effective compliance and litigation counsel in the full range of industry issues. Harold often spends his time and talents assisting clients on Illinois Free Legal Answers. Over the last few years, he has answered 623 questions for those who could not afford assistance. Harold is motivated to do pro bono because "It’s clear that when pro bono clients have legal problems, the stress weighs on them, and when I can help relieve that by providing legal advice, it just makes me happy."

Yolanda Riley
The Law Offices of Yolanda J. Riley, LLC

Yolanda is a solo practitioner in Central Illinois where she focuses on expungement/sealing work, post criminal conviction relief, family law, landlord -tenant cases as well as civil litigation. Among other pro bono contributions, Yolanda recently spent time assisting clients at the Peoria Expungement Clinic by helping organize the clinic as well as lending her own experience and expertise. Yolanda say, "I believe in PILI’s mission, and I have seen firsthand the dedication the organization has to Illinoisans. Being a part of PILI’s pro bono work allows me to have a part in advancing equal access to justice for those in my area."


Maria Rossi

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Maria Rossi is an associate at Seyfarth Shaw LLP. Maria focuses on employee benefits law and assisting other Seyfarth attorneys on the complex challenges within the specialty. Maria is a reliable team member and takes initiative and approaches each legal matter with attention to detail. Since being sworn in as an attorney, Maria has quickly become a dedicated PILI volunteer with Illinois Free Legal Answers. She has assisted 63 clients in need by answering their questions on the platform! Maria takes a thoughtful and empathetic approach to answering clients’ questions and often has several exchanges with them on the platform to answer follow-up questions and provide needed resources and information. In a recent exchange regarding an employment discrimination question, the client said, “Thank you so much for this needed information. I truly appreciate your help.” Maria is also assisting in organizing an Illinois Free Legal Answers clinic to be held at Seyfarth Shaw LLP this summer so attorneys and summer associates can assist each other and network while helping those in need. Not only does Maria answer questions herself, but she is encouraging and recruiting others to do pro bono, which makes a big difference.

In addition to answering questions on Illinois Free Legal Answers, Maria also was a regular volunteer at large-scale workshops in Chicago organized by The Resurrection Project and assisting newly arrived migrants with obtaining Employment Authorization and Temporary Protected Status. Maria dedicated her time to helping them with obtaining those critical benefits, which makes a big impact on their lives. Maria also serves as a member of PILI's Young Professionals Board empowering PILI through fundraising and by serving as a PILI ambassador in the legal community and at her law firm. She provides critical support to PILI ‘s work through her membership on the Board. Though Maria has been an attorney for a short amount of time, she has prioritized pro bono work and assisting others with civil legal needs.


Deere & Company

Deere & Company, one of PILI’s key pro bono partners, is represented on our Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee and serving those in need in the Quad Cities and beyond. Since 2002, Deere's pro bono program has been dedicated to serving those in need of legal services, while also maintaining an environment where employees are encouraged to engage in volunteerism for the betterment of their communities.

In 2023, Deere & Company hosted a Pro Bono Week celebration at their company headquarters, recognizing the efforts of local pro bono volunteers whose work has helped to expand and enhance access to justice in the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit. Deere also hosted an Illinois Free Legal Answers Training session, where Illinois attorneys gathered and assisted clients by answering their civil legal questions on the platform. Participants received brief training and were able to ask questions before getting started helping clients.

Deere & Company also participated in the Fourteenth Circuit Criminal Records Relief Clinic in March 2024. Free legal assistance was given to individuals living in Henry, Mercer, Rock Island and Whiteside Counties seeking to clear their criminal records. Volunteers consulted with participants on available options for relief, prepared petitions to expunge and/or seal eligible records and provided guidance on navigating the process from start to finish.

In addition to these recent events, Deere & Company has been a long-time sponsor of the Equal Justice Works Fellowships, a program that funds public interest attorneys for two years while they work on a specific project at a host agency. This included sponsoring PILI's first ever Equal Justice Works Fellow in 2018-2020 to launch PILI's Legal Help Within Reach project. A number of former PILI Law Student Interns and Graduate Fellows have gone on to participate in this program, as they started their legal career.


Billie Constant

Constant, Wawrzynek and Grove, LLC

Billie Constant is a partner at Constant, Wawrzynek and Grove, LLC in Mattoon. Since the firm held an Illinois Free Legal Answers Clinic in the fall of 2023, she has answered over 42 questions on the platform. Her answers are thorough and empathetic, often answering clients in emotional distress and helping them through difficult situations involving guardianship or probate.

Billie focuses her practice on estate planning and guardianship. In addition to her practice, Billie serves as the chairperson of the Illinois State Bar Association Related Education Standing Committee, the Treasurer of the Dispute Resolution Institute, and is a member of the Joint CLE Committee.

When asked about why she feels pro bono work is important, Billie had this to say, “I know what it means to feel helpless amid a crisis – I was a foster kid.  I’m now an attorney and I always intended to do whatever was in my power to prevent other people from feeling that helpless while navigating the legal system.”


State Farm Law Department

State Farm is a key PILI pro bono partner that is represented on our Eleventh Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee and supports the community in McLean County. The State Farm Law Department in recent years has enhanced its efforts, primarily through the establishment and support of a Pro Bono Committee, to strategically capture and recognize the pro bono legal services provided. State Farm pro bono attorneys participate in Illinois Free Legal Answers and has previously been recognized as an ABA Free Legal Answers Pro Bono Leader, granted to law departments who collectively answered 75 or more questions through the platform. State Farm also encouraged its Law Department to pledge to answer 100 questions or more throughout the year.

In 2023, State Farm hosted a multi-state Free Legal Answers Clinic during Pro Bono Week in October, including attorneys from Illinois. Illinois attorneys gathered and assisted about 20 clients by answering their civil legal questions on the platform and encouraged pro bono throughout the week. Participants received brief training on the platform and were able to answer questions before getting started helping clients. Though State Farm had hosted Illinois Free Legal Answers Clinics before, this was the biggest. Since its inception, State Farm has partnered with PILI for the Bloomington Legal Advice Fair, including in 2023, which was its second year returning after COVID. Always a partner and source of volunteers, State Farm attorneys helped PILI serve 24 clients at the clinic with civil legal advice in a variety of different areas. The attorneys and legal staff enjoyed participating and one client said about a State Farm attorney, she [the volunteer] was very attentive, thoughtful, and patient. I am very grateful for her services.”

In addition to those two highlights of State Farm’s pro bono partnership with PILI, the State Farm has also established partnerships with several other legal aid organizations in Illinois, to work on issues such as eviction diversion and expungement & sealing clinics, among others.


Christopher B. Smith

Weller Law LLC

Christopher B. Smith has been in private practice since 2010. An associate at Weller Law, LLC, he practices primarily in family law, bankruptcy and guardianship. He currently serves as a Guardian Ad Litem in various family, adoption, probate and civil cases.  Previously he worked at the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office assigned to the child support enforcement division for approximately two and half years.

He’s very active in the St. Clair County Bar Association and regularly donates his time and talent to present at CLE trainings and seminars, many of which benefit pro bono efforts. He has presented for the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation and St. Clair County Bar Association on Family Law, Bankruptcy and Guardian Ad Litem issues and is a previous Land of Lincoln Bartylack Pro Bono Award recipient.

In addition to presenting at CLEs, he also handles pro bono matters. Most recently, he took multiple pro bono matters through the East St. Louis Wills & Power of Attorney clinic co-sponsored by PILI and Land of Lincoln. He commented on the experience, “I love being helpful and helping to manage expectations. Wills and POAs help provide more clarity to what can be an abrupt and disturbing time for clients and/or their families.  This helps to get families moving forward on important end of life discussions that often need a little help to get people to understand the options and some of the problems that develop when dealing with estate related issues.  I was happy to help provide some guidance for these clients."


Carissa Haning

Haning Law Office

Carissa Haning is the owner of Haning Law Office and is an estate planning attorney in the Bloomington/Normal area. With a small law firm that that focuses entirely on estate planning, she can have an important impact on families and help them plan for the future. She also believes in making estate plans accessible and affordable for all families. Carissa is a two-time volunteer at the PILI Bloomington Legal Advice Fair, where volunteer attorneys meet with low-income clients and give one-time legal advice concerning family issues, housing disputes, debt concerns and more.

At the most recent Legal Advice Fair this past September, PILI referred a local client that came through the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network to the Fair, so he could meet with an attorney in person. IL-AFLAN provides civil legal services across Illinois and is a network of more than ten legal aid organizations and law school clinics, including PILI. Since he was an older Army veteran seeking assistance with estate planning, PILI staff scheduled him to meet with Carissa. Carissa not only provided legal advice but took the time to prepare and execute all the documents that he needed to have peace of mind. She also took the time to explain everything thoroughly to the client, and he noted she was “thorough, informative and… willingly helpful in answering follow up questions.” It is volunteers like Carissa that make our clinic programs successful, and she also went beyond to make sure this client had what he needed and felt comfortable.


Christopher Hunter

Hunter Law Office P.C.

Christopher currently maintains a private practice in Alton and serves the southern Illinois community as a trial attorney and mediator. He serves frequently as Guardian Ad Litem for the Third Judicial Circuit in the family and probate divisions. Christopher uses his extensive experience in civil litigation to volunteer for Catholic Charities and the Third Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee. He also donates his time to speak at continuing legal education seminars on a variety of topics in support of pro bono. In addition to this work, he recently worked on an Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network case through PILI. This case was lengthy and complex, but he was able to assist a veteran and their family with a difficult eviction.

 


Jeffrey Glickman

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP

Jeffrey Glickman is an Associate at Katten in the Chicago office, where he was named a Super Lawyers Rising Star for Illinois in 2023. As a CPA and former tax accountant, he possesses a great attention to detail and analytical skills that help his clients achieve their goals.  He is also a dedicated Illinois Free Legal Answers pro bono volunteer. Having a regular practice dedicated to estate planning and trust administration makes Jeffrey uniquely qualified to answer estate questions for low-income Illinoisans on the platform. Since becoming a volunteer, Jeffrey has answered 19 questions on Illinois Free Legal Answers. Beyond the number of questions answered, Jeffrey has spent almost 80 hours assisting those clients. He often engages in numerous exchanges with clients through the platform, and his empathetic approach allows clients to trust him and feel comfortable sharing their stories. He keeps a connection with clients on the platform to ensure all their questions get answered.

One client of Jeffrey’s recently said, “We are all set. Thanks so much for volunteering your expertise!!” Jeffrey has also recently taken on a client case from Illinois Free Legal Answers and will continue to help her pro bono with her trust and estate issue. While this is never expected of a volunteer on the platform, it demonstrates Jeffrey’s commitment to pro bono work and helping those who don’t have other access to legal help. In addition to volunteering himself, Jeffrey has encouraged a number of his colleagues to get involved as well, which is a great way to recruit more pro bono volunteers. Jeffrey added, “It has really been my pleasure to help on Illinois Free Legal Answers.”


Stacey McCullough

Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC

Stacey A. McCulloughStacey is a member of PILI's Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee and one of the organizers and lead volunteers behind the DuPage County Expungement Clinic. Stacey is an attorney at Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC and for over 25 years she has successfully defended those faced with various criminal charges in Chicago and the surrounding counties. Stacey shows a true commitment to her clients and is also dedicated to using her abilities to increase access to justice as demonstrated through her pro bono work. For the last several years, the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee has partnered with the Clerk of the Circuit Court of DuPage County, Prairie State Legal Services, the DuPage County Bar Association, and DuPage Legal Aid on an Expungement Clinic that provides free legal assistance to individuals seeking to clear their criminal record. The Clinic serves 100 or more clients in one day. Stacey serves on the organizing committee and dedicates numerous hours to planning the clinic and recruiting other volunteer attorneys. She also serves as a substantive legal expert and trains other attorneys so they can be prepared to volunteer at the Clinic.

After the clinic takes place, Stacey represents many of the clients in hearings to ensure they obtain relief. Stacey also serves as a pro bono resource to PILI in consulting on expungement and sealing cases and representing clients outside of the clinic. Her expertise on the local court procedures is a valuable asset and she is always happy to answer a question and be a resource to younger attorneys. Stacey also volunteers with PILI on Illinois Free Legal Answers, frequently answering questions about expungements and sealing.