Legal aid is one of the largest areas of unmet need facing Illinois veterans and active duty military according to a recent survey conducted by Illinois Joining Forces. One of the greatest areas of vulnerability is consumer issues, particularly high-rate financing scheme that can leave a family home in foreclosure. Housing and family law issues are also areas of significant need.
The Access to Justice Act, passed in 2013 and amended in 2015, addresses this need by creating a statewide legal aid hotline and network of supporting legal services to meet the needs of Illinois veterans and service members. The work is funded by a temporary $2 surcharge to civil filing fees. Collection of the fee began in September 2015 and ends in 2020. A report is due to the General Assembly in June 2021.
The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) has been charged with implementing this project with the guidance and leadership of the Illinois Access to Civil Justice Council. Staff has conducted a legal needs assessment and designed the grants process. Legal aid organizations and pro bono projects across the state will take part in a competitive grants process annually to provide these vital services.
Year one grants were approved in May 2017. See Grant Recipients for a complete list.
For more information on the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network, please contact Zach Zarnow at 312-938-2106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.