Governor Bruce Rauner recognized the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation and its  Founding Trustees Michael A. Pope, Timothy L. Bertschy and Christine M. Ory for the vital role they play in increasing access to the civil justice system for all Illinoisans, regardless of income, in a state proclamation dated June 30, 2016.

The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) was founded in 1999 with the passage of the Illinois Equal Justice Act, which created a state appropriation for civil legal aid.  The IEJF administers and advocates for said appropriation in order to increase access to justice for all Illinoisans.  The IEJF funds civil legal aid programs across the state ensuring all residents, regardless of income, have equal access to the justice system for acute matters like domestic violence, foreclosure and financial exploitation.  Since its first grant cycle in 2001, the IEJF has awarded over $23.3 million in grants to nonprofit legal aid providers serving the critical civil legal needs of approximately 560,000 vulnerable Illinoisans.  These programs build stronger communities and a stronger Illinois.

The IEJF appropriation has been negatively impacted by the continuing state budget impasse.  No funding was appropriated in 2016.  Attorney General Lisa Madigan has requested $1.4 million for the civil legal aid appropriation in her fiscal year 2017 budget.

All three Founding Trustees joined the first IEJF Board in 1999.  Their Board terms ended in 2010 and all three continued their service in a non-voting capacity through 2015.

Michael A. Pope served as Founding President of the IEJF.  For the last four years, he represented the IEJF on the IL Supreme Court’s Access to Justice Commission.  He serves as Senior Council at McDermott Will & Emery.  Timothy L. Bertschy served two terms as IEJF President and oversaw the hire of its first full-time Executive Director.  Mr. Bertschy serves as Managing Partner of Heyl Royster.  Christine M. Ory also served two terms as President and was the organization’s first female officer.  She was appointed an Arbitrator for the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission in 2015.

The proclamation will be presented to Mr. Pope, Mr. Bertschy and Ms. Ory at a private event on June 30.

More information on the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation can be found at or by contacting Leslie Corbett, Executive Director at 312-938-2381 or