Most of the work done by the Legal Advocacy Service on behalf of persons with disabilities is the result of court appointments under the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code. Indeed, LAS provides representation in more than 6000 cases each year, in both the trial and appellate courts, pursuant to such court appointments.
In non-court-appointed cases, LAS is statutorily required to seek referral, and to assist the client in finding private counsel whenever possible. Some requests for assistance involve clients with the ability to pay counsel, and to accept those clients LAS would have to charge a fee for services just as private counsel would. But other cases involve indigent or near indigent clients with significant issues that deserve legal support. Unfortunately, given the number of cases to which LAS is appointed by the courts, our first and unalterable mandate, many of these clients must be referred elsewhere or trained in self-advocacy and sent off to do battle. This is most often seen in disputes with local education officials over necessary services for a child with disabilities, but many other areas of representational need become apparent, including disputes involving Social Security benefits, employment discrimination, landlord/tenant issues, financial abuse, guardianship assistance and more.
We are most interested in compiling a list of local counsel in each area of the State who are willing to provide pro bono or fee-based services to persons with disabilities. If you, or your firm, would like to be placed on our list of interested legal service providers, please contact our intake number at 312-793-5900 to identify which issue areas would be suitable for non-binding case referral to meet the needs of underserved clients with disabilities and your practice.