A Sit-Down with IEJF Board Member Nate Hinch
You joined the board of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) last year. What drew you to the IEJF?
I’ve always been interested in supporting legal aid and have served on volunteer boards and committees relative to that before, but the IEJF is really the gold standard for that important work in Illinois. I was honored that my good friend and colleague, Nan Fosen, thought of me and suggested my name for consideration, and I was delighted to join her on the board.
If you had to make a one-minute argument for state funding of civil legal aid, what would you say?
Access to justice is more important than ever, and without sustained state funding would be a full on crisis, not just for those without the means to hire their own attorney, but for society in general. If we can agree that courts should be accessible to anyone who seeks justice, but the reality is that an increasing amount of people cannot afford our court system, then what would that say about our judicial system and our democracy in general? The integrity of our judicial institutions is critical to all of us, and therefore access to justice is important to each of us, whether or not we consider legal aid to be a personal need.
In your spare time, you write about legal issues for a blog, Hinch Law. What drew you to blogging?
I enjoy the writing and research that goes into a blog post, and I also try to be selective so the posts are hopefully helpful to real world needs. I’ve found when I’m writing a post on a particular topic (or a bar association newsletter article for example) it helps me to brush up myself on the latest case law updates on that topic, so it helps me to learn and better retain knowledge than merely reading a case or article.
You are very active in the Bloomington area, serving on the board of the McClean County Chamber and the Bloomington Rotary, among others. What do you like most about living and working in central Illinois?
We moved to Bloomington from Wheaton ten years ago now, which is really hard to believe! We love the Chicago area and still have wonderful friends and clients in DuPage County. But Bloomington/Normal has been amazing in terms of welcoming my family and I, and the McLean County Bar Association has done the same for me professionally. It’s hard to believe ten years ago I would walk into a bar association or Chamber of Commerce networking or educational event and not know anyone in the room! So to answer the question, I love the community and friendliness in Central Illinois, but I also love that Chicago and the suburbs are not far away.
Finally, how are you and your family adjusting to this ‘new normal’?
We have been blessed to stay healthy and well in our house, while having our lives touched by loved ones in our extended family and friends who have suffered and lost loved ones. I lost a grandfather this summer myself but also was grateful to celebrate a life well lived. You mentioned the Chamber of Commerce, and I can say the year has not been how I expected my year as board chair to go! I have done my best to help local businesses through a brutal year, from the front line health care-related businesses to the small businesses like restaurants, salons, and fitness centers having to shut down at times this year, and to non-profits, like the many organizations funded by IEJF grants, on the front lines of helping those in need and most at risk in the pandemic.
This time of year in the law business tends to get hectic and stressful, as we strive to help clients meet end of year deadlines and perhaps our own billable hour goals. It is very easy to let that get to us and not take the time for self-care, to let the season pass us by and not reflect and give thanks for the ways in which we are so fortunate and blessed. If there is a good thing about cancelled holiday plans and staying home, my hope and goal for myself and my family would be that the holidays this year would be refreshingly rewarding in that sense.