It is National Celebrate Pro Bono Week, and, in Madison County, we have much to celebrate about how our legal system is working to make a positive impact locally.
In 2012, over 30,000 Illinois lawyers and paralegals donated more than 2 million hours of pro bono legal aid services for low-income individuals and families, including attorneys in Alton, Edwardsville, Granite City and communities throughout Madison County.
Land of Lincoln Legal Services, a central and southern Illinois non-profit group with a regional office in Alton, coordinates the majority of pro bono efforts in Madison County. They provide free legal assistance to thousands of low-income residents and seniors in areas related to housing, domestic violence, consumer protection, foreclosure help and more.
The Veterans’ Assistance Commission of Madison County provides support to approximately 25,000 Madison County veterans including those served by the Veterans’ Treatment Court. Through this program, lawyers help veterans resolve legal issues stemming from PTSD, psychological problems, substance abuse problems and other challenges linked to their military service.
At the Legal Advice Conference Center in the Madison County Law Library, attorneys offer free clinics to low-income residents the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. During the first half of 2013, the clinic helped 80 people and their families.
The Madison County Bar Association Internship Program offers opportunities to students interested in the legal profession. Since the program started in 2012, it has placed approximately 15 students from area school districts, including Alton, Edwardsville, East Alton/Wood River and Bethalto in internships with several area law firms.
Good things are happening at the local level, but there’s always more that can be done. Often the only thing standing between homelessness, violence and abuse for the disadvantaged amongst us are the volunteers from the legal community. Please join me and the legal community in its efforts to bring legal services to all citizens by supporting pro bono services, which help those in need, right here in Madison County, Ill.