With 50 years of experience providing high quality, free legal services to low-income Chicagoans, CVLS and its volunteers are often recognized for their outstanding work.


Former PILI Fellow Returns for Round Two!

After graduating from law school, Natasha Serafin worked for CVLS as a Public Interest Law Initiative Fellow before starting at Chapman and Cutler LLP. Tasha enjoyed her experience so much that she came back as a volunteer!

Volunteers Needed

CVLS needs volunteers to help people staying in homeless shelters understand and navigate their legal problems. Our rotating clinic, co-sponsored by Housing Forward, is held in Oak Park, Forest Park and Berwyn churches, one evening a month between May 1 and October 31. This is a great opportunity for all of you River Forest, Oak Park and other near western suburban attorneys, to help the people you see every day who are struggling. CVLS will help you help them by providing training and legal support. Interested or have questions? Email Kathy Koester at

Mailbox Mishap

Summer Intern Outsmarts Housing Authority

Charles De La Cruz, CVLS summer intern

Charrika is a tenant with a housing authority subsidy. One of her obligations under the housing authority’s guidelines is to attend an annual “recertification” appointment to make sure she is still eligible for the subsidy. Missing appointments can result in termination from the program.

And that’s exactly what happened to Charrika.

A Fork in the road

The Full Foreclosure Experience

Barbara Mallon, Mallon & Johnson

Still suffering from the aftereffects of a less than favorable 2007 home loan, Benesse and Kenneth faced foreclosure. After being wrongfully denied a loan modification, the husband and wife were referred to CVLS by a foreclosure judge. Through CVLS’ partnership with Spanish Coalition for Housing, they submitted a new modification application, and the bank offered the couple a trial period plan (TPP) to move towards modification of the loan.

Pro bono bond project needs volunteers

Legal representation often determines whether an immigrant remains safely in the United States or is deported without ever having any legal counsel. Additionally, whether or not an immigrant is detained during removal proceedings greatly affects the outcome of their immigration case. While an immigrant can legally have an attorney represent him or her at any point in proceedings, representation cannot be at government expense. Statistically, only 14% of detained immigrants are able to obtain representation.

Justice is a dish best served cold

Volunteer Doesn’t Accept the Run Around

Renita Ward

Dawn had signed a lease with her landlord more than two decades ago. Suddenly, and with little notice, her property was sold. To complicate matters, her landlord had passed away years ago and the parties with authority to sell refused to return her security deposit after she moved out. The reason: it was never received…

AAML Supports the children

Their Generosity Continues to Inspire

On November 19 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers President and longtime CVLS volunteer David Pasulka presented CVLS executive director Margaret Benson, and Deputy Director Phil Mohr with a check from the AAML’s National Foundation to further support our Child Representative Program.

Judge Mary Ellen Coghlan Honored for PCAP Work

Margaret Benson , Rich Campbell and Peter Ashmore post with honoree Justice Mary Ellen Coghlan

Mayer Brown LLP generously hosted a reception at their offices for the CVLS Probate Court Assistance Project (PCAP). We had a great time mingling with the Probate Court and our wonderful PCAP volunteers.

CVLS executive director Margaret Benson presented Justice Mary Ellen Coghlan with an award for her role in PCAP and her dedication to CVLS’ mission.

40 Years of Partnership: The Power of Pro Bono

In 1979, a group of Schiff Hardin attorneys adopted the CVLS neighborhood legal clinic housed in the Howard Area Community Center in Rogers Park, a culturally vibrant, yet economically under-resourced community in the Chicago area. Our lawyers headed up to the clinic each week, helping low-income Rogers Park clients get the legal assistance they needed to protect their rights.

Four decades later, the CVLS clinic, still staffed by Schiff Hardin attorneys, continues to serve low-income Rogers Park clients – proving the power of pro bono to advance change, improve lives, and bring justice.

Schiff Hardin and CVLS Celebrate 40-Year Pro Bono Partnership

First firm-adopted legal aid clinic structure has expanded to 24 CVLS clinics across Chicago

CHICAGO – Schiff Hardin LLP and Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) are proud to commemorate 40 years of their unique and trailblazing pro bono partnership to advance change, improve lives, and bring justice, which began with the first-ever firm adoption of a CVLS neighborhood legal clinic in 1979.