JUF Community Legal Services

JUF Community Legal Services, formerly known as the American Jewish Congress (AJC) Legal Clinic, provides individuals and families in need of legal services with access to free and much needed legal representation.

JUF Community Legal Services is staffed entirely by volunteer attorneys who generously donate their time each year to provide pro bono legal assistance in civil matters. Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation (CVLS) will work with JUF to provide administrative support alongside JUF's TOV Volunteer Network and Lawyers Division.

The AJC Clinic was originally created in 1981 to better address the legal needs of the Russian Jewish immigrant community, and in recent years, its scope broadened to serve clients of diverse ethnicities and ages. In 2009, AJC faced budgetary shortfalls, and in the wake of the economic crisis, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago was able to step in and provide the essential funding to sustain and expand the program through JHELP: A Boost in Tough Times.

“This program provides a crucial safety net service for our community members. With more people in need of these services now in the midst of this economic crisis, we felt this was a priority warranting emergency funding and community support.” - Steven Nasatir, CEO of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago

What types of cases does JUF Community Legal Services handle?

The Community Legal Services program provides legal assistance in civil cases. The program does not handle criminal matters (other than simple misdemeanors) or those cases which generate fees. Although not exhaustive, the following list represents some of the more common practice areas for the program:

Who can volunteer for the program?

Attorneys of all practice areas are encouraged to volunteer regardless of their specialty. Ideally, clients are placed with attorneys who specialize or have an interest in the area of the client’s legal problem.

How does the JUF Community Legal Services program work?

Clients contact the Program Coordinator, who completes an initial assessment and screens the clients for financial eligibility, then schedules an appointment for the client to meet with an attorney. The Program Coordinator contacts attorneys in advance to schedule appointments to meet with clients at an evening session. After the initial meeting at the evening session, the attorney and client will negotiate arrangements for future appointments. The program is not an advice clinic – attorneys generally handle the case from start to finish.

Generally, volunteers staff 1-2 evening sessions per year, taking on 1-3 cases per session. CVLS provides malpractice insurance for all participants in the program, as well as training, support and legal resources for attorneys who are handling cases outside their specialty.

The program is available to clients on an appointment only basis. Clinic sessions are held at regular intervals at city and suburban locations.

To volunteer, please call 312-357-4877 or email lawyers@juf.org.

If you know of anyone in need of free legal assistance, please refer them to the JUF Community Legal Services Program Coordinator at (847) 568-1525. Financial eligibility requirements vary depending on the type of case, income levels of the client, and number of persons in the household.