Member Spotlight

Chicago Bar Foundation

Chicago Bar Foundation

The June Member Spotlight shines on the Chicago Bar Foundation.

Their Mission: 

The Chicago Bar Foundation is the charitable arm of the Chicago Bar Association and their mission recognizes that taking a leadership role to ensure equal access to justice is our common cause as a profession, and that we can make a distinct impact in advancing that cause by the legal community coming together through the CBF. 

The CBF’s guiding principle is to improve access to justice for people in need and to make the legal system fair, equitable, and effective for people of all backgrounds and incomes. They pursue two overarching goals to improve access to justice. 

  1. Increasing access to free and affordable legal assistance for people in need 
  2. Making the courts and legal system more user-friendly, fair, and accessible for people without lawyers

About the Organization:

The Chicago Bar Foundation was founded in 1948 during a time of unprecedented growth in the city of Chicago. It was during this time that a small but prominent group of lawyer members of the Chicago Bar Association came together united in the belief that by pooling their charitable efforts, the members of the Chicago Bar Association could make substantial improvements for both their profession and their community. That vision became the CBF which has been aiding the Chicago community for 70+ years. You can read more about the CBF here. 

Along with their charitable aspects, the Chicago Bar Foundation also hosts and puts on various different events and community engagements. For events, each year they host four signature events which engage more that 4,000 community members and 200 firms and companies. These events are the Pro Bono week, the Fall Benefit, the Pro Bono and Public Service Awards and the Passport to Chicago. Some of the community engagement events that the CBF has been a part of include the CBA Legal Aide Committee CLE and the CBA Earl B. Dickerson Awards. You can read more about each of these events here.

Grants and Charitable Activities:

The Chicago Bar Foundation gives back to the community in several different ways. First off, they offer various grants that support pro bono, legal aid and related initiatives. They also have Fellowships, Scholarships and Internships to support law students and graduates. 

Each year, the CBF grants a total of over $7 million each year to support dozens of pro bono and legal aid organizations that serve the Chicago area along with a number of initiative projects that are making a longer term impact. These grants work in the following ways: 

  • Support dozens of outstanding pro bono and legal aid organizations serving our community
  • Underwrite court-based help desks and pro bono projects that make the justice system more user-friendly and accessible
  • Make it possible for pro bono attorneys to most effectively make a difference
  • Help dedicated attorneys pursue legal aid careers

The CBF supports various different grant types including organizational support and special projects. You can read more about the various grants and grant types supported by the Chicago Bar Foundation here.

As mentioned above, the CBF also offers Fellowships, Scholarships and Internships to support law students and graduates. These programs are designed to help make it possible for committed attorneys to pursue their chosen line of work despite overwhelming financial challenges and skyrocketing levels of law school debt. Below is a list of the current fellowships, scholarships and internships supported by the CBF: 

  • Anderson Fellowship
  • Moses Scholarship
  • Sun-Times Public Fellowship
  • Marovitz Fellowship
  • Pili Law Student Internships

Through these generous fellowships, internships and scholarships the CBF has made it more manageable for over 100 inspiring legal aid attorneys and public service attorneys to pursue and continue their important work to make our justice system fairer and more efficient for everyone. You can learn more about these programs here.

Staff and Leadership:

The Chicago Bar Foundation has 11 team members along with 6 Officers, 30 Directors, and 1 Counsel on the Board of Directors and 3 Officers and 33 Board Members on the Young Professionals Board. You can see their whole leadership team here. 

You can follow the Chicago Bar Foundation on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.