News

News

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.

Staff Dedication: Susan DeCostanza

Susan DeCostanza

This past December, our very own Susan DeCostanza was honored with Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI)’s Distinguished PILI Alumni Award. This is just one of the many awards Susan has been honored with and deserves. Susan has been with CVLS since 2010, working tirelessly to provide access to justice. She currently is the Director of our Adult Guardianship program and has been an invaluable support to our volunteers and staff alike. If you spoke to anyone who worked with Susan, they would sing nothing but praises about her work, her kindness, her mentorship, and her leadership.

CVLS' Resident Foreclosure Divorce Team is at It Again!

Matthew Hulstein, CVLS Supervising Attorney, Access to Justice Program

Rob Zielinski, CVLS Staff Attorney, Child Rep Program

In our April newsletter, we told you about how CVLS Staff Attorneys Rob and Matt tag-teamed a divorce/foreclosure and helped a single mom, Archangel, save her home. Matt and Rob are at it again!

Crystal was the sole owner of her home and the only borrower on her mortgage loan. She was married, but the couple was separated and her husband had filed for divorce. Crystal fell behind on her mortgage and was soon facing foreclosure. Originally, the bank offered her a trial payment plan that promised a permanent modification after the trial period. She was thrilled with the prospect of being able to keep her home. Crystal followed through and made the necessary payments. The bank then sent her a proposed modification, with one caveat; the bank would only complete her modification if her husband signed the document. Crystal’s hopes were crushed as her husband refused to sign. Crystal had done all she could alone and had to watch as the foreclosure of her home continued.

Fighting "Tooth" and Nail

Volunteer Prevails in Housing Subsidy Battle

Laurence Tooth, Cozen O'Connor

At 56 years old, Timothy lives with his family in a rent-subsidized home in the middle of a high-crime neighborhood in Chicago. He’s done his best, for the past 15 years, to provide a safe environment for his two daughters and five grandchildren. But four years ago, without warning, the Chicago Police Department knocked at Timothy’s door with a warrant for Timothy’s son, an alleged gang member.

Timothy’s son did not live at the home, but he was visiting the family that morning. After conducting a search of the property, the police found two illegal weapons. The son was immediately arrested for unlawful gun possession, and he eventually pled guilty to the charges. When the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) learned of the son’s arrest and conviction, they terminated Timothy’s housing subsidy, threatening the rest of the family with homelessness. Timothy and his family had no idea that his son was storing weapons in the home.

Creative Manuscripts Kept Safe

Author Shows Unique Form of Gratitude

Elizabeth Peterson, CVLS Volunteer

Not all CVLS cases involve contested litigation or fierce courtroom advocacy. Sometimes, a client just needs a few documents drafted and some legal advice without incurring extraordinary fees. Donald, an 80-year-old author, came to CVLS with that kind of simple task: he wanted to make sure his possessions went to a close friend after Donald’s death.

With only a small monthly Social Security benefit as income, Donald could not afford the hundreds of dollars it would take to consult with a private estate planning attorney. Enter award-winning CVLS volunteer attorney, Liz Peterson. Liz met with Donald and agreed to draft the appropriate paperwork to accomplish Donald’s goals.

Fighting Fire with Esquire

Volunteer attorney comes to the rescue

Laurie A. Martin Montplaisir, Robbins, Salomon, & Patt, Ltd.

It all started in 2010. Tamara had just moved into an apartment building provided by a senior housing program. She was offered a family unit to rent in a fully accessible facility. This was essential for Tamara’s 16-year-old son who suffers from severe mental and physical disabilities.

A single mother with three children, Tamara called her Rogers Park apartment home for eight years. Family photos lined the dressers in the bedrooms, and the hallways were dotted with bright and colorful posters for her youngest child to learn the alphabet. Other than the medical equipment needed to treat her son, Tamara kept the unit clean, warm, and welcoming for almost a decade.

Towers go Toe-to-toe with Troy

Volunteer attorney comes to the rescue

Brian Kron, CVLS Volunteer

While driving his mother around, Troy had no idea he would end up embroiled in a lawsuit for more than $50,000. When Troy and his Mother were hit by a tow truck Troy’s mother sued the tow truck company for her injuries. Brought in as a third party defendant, Troy needed legal counsel. He came to CVLS for help.

Board News

Governing and Junior Boards hold elections

Left to right, top to bottom: Monique Bhargava, David Chernoff, Kate Dennis Nye, Corey Sealy, Matthew Schiltz, Laura Buchanan, Rob Crawford, Jamie Davis, Sharief El-Gabri, Kyle Fahey, Michael Kuiken, Donald Moon, Benjamin Nellans, Malerie Roddy, Lindsay Scheidt

Congratulations to Mark Bina, Quarles & Brady LLP, Katie Miler Schilling, Jones Day, Joe Seder, The Kenrich Group LLC, Dan Winters, and Tom Woodrow, Holland & Knight LLP. Each were reelected for another three-year term on CVLS’ Board of Directors. Thank you to retiring board members R. Cantrell Jones, Amanda Jones, Arnold Gough, Jr., Brion Doherty, Rawn Reinhard, and Joseph Tylutki for their service.

Monique (Nikki) Bhargava, Loeb & Loeb, David Chernoff, Kate Dennis Nye, Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, Corey Sealy, Dentons US, and Matthew Schiltz, Schiff Hardin, were elected to serve their first terms on the board. Both Nikki and Matthew previously served two three-year terms on our Junior Board, with Nikki acting as Chair before her retirement.

Appellate Win for CVLS!

Contentious guardianship case goes the distance

Gregory P. Hawver, McGuire Woods LLP

Debi Filipovich, CVLS

Andre was thirteen years old and had been raised by his aunt and uncle since he could remember. Although originally an informal arrangement between aunt, uncle, and Andre’s mother, the aunt and uncle needed to establish a legal relationship with Andre to better care for him. They petitioned for legal guardianship. When Andre’s mother appeared in court and objected, CVLS was appointed as Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to advocate for Andre’s best interests.

Volunteer Spotlight: Jeannine Broadnax

Jeannine Broadnax, Strategic Tax & Estate Planning Strategies (S.T.E.P.S.)

Jeannine Broadnax knows a thing or two about probate law. Since 2015, she has volunteered with CVLS as a Guardian ad Litem (“GAL”) for adults with disabilities, investigating family circumstances for the Court and helping the underserved access information and resources. Jeannine also represents CVLS clients as part of our new Probate Court Assistance Project (“PCAP”).

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