This year has been marked by so many challenges: the COVID-19 Pandemic and subsequent economic downturn, the ongoing fight against racial injustice and inequity, and a contentious federal election. These challenges have forced many low-income individuals and families to face a myriad of legal issues for which they need help. From fighting to keep their home during a pandemic, appealing unemployment benefit denials, knowing their rights during a protest or protecting everyone’s right to vote, access to legal services is critical at this time.
At the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI), we have been working hard since the pandemic began to increase access to free legal services for those in need across Illinois. We have answered over 2,200 questions on Illinois Free Legal Answers and launched a new platform for providing assistance with civil appeals, placed 65 Law Student Interns and 62 Graduate Fellows, and placed 80 pro bono cases. This combines to over 40,000 hours of legal services and over 3,000 clients served. We have also held virtual programs and events to train pro bono attorneys, to address timely legal topics, and to increase pro bono services across the state.
As one client who asked a question on Illinois Free Legal Answers said, “I feel so relieved that I found this site. This service has been a huge help towards my next step. Thank you for your incredible support!”
Despite all of this work, there is still so much need and PILI stands at the ready to help. But, the uncertainty brought forth by this challenging year has also presented nonprofits like PILI with less financial resources due to funding cutbacks. While we are so grateful to our many donors and supporters who have been able to continue giving, we have also heard from others who have had to make cuts to their support of us this year. We are looking to raise an additional $30,000 in new funding before the end of 2020 to ensure that we have sufficient resources to continue our work in advancing justice.
How will you commit to advancing justice this year? Could you increase your giving to PILI or make your first gift today? Take a pro bono case from us or another legal aid program in your area, or answer some questions on Illinois Free Legal Answers? Or, be a champion for pro bono with your colleagues? Whatever you can do, it will make a difference and PILI can serve as your gateway to helping those in need.
About the PILI YPB:
Established in 2017, PILI’s Young Professionals Board is a group dedicated to empowering PILI through fundraising and by serving as PILI’s ambassadors in their communities. Members are emerging leaders who have begun their professional careers in the past fifteen years.
About Giving Tuesday:
GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. GivingTuesday was created in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past seven years, it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.