Our clients come to us because they have a civil matter for which they need guidance and possibly representation in court. Some are spouses needing to escape the abuse of their partner, whether physical or emotional. Some are single parents unable to support their children because their spouse walked away from their responsibility. We see elderly clients who have been victims of fraud by contractors taking advantage of their vulnerability on home repairs. We see people who lost what little they had to predatory lenders charging up to 300% interest on loans that could never be repaid under those rates. We deal with landlord/tenant situations, contract disputes, custody enforcement, and many other civil issues for which our clients would have had no hope of resolving without the intercession of a legal advocate.
Because access to legal aid is limited to a few offices within the state, those who seek such services often cannot find help. More than 4,300 of the poor in need of legal help are turned away every working day in the United States. While those who commit criminal fraud or abuse in this country are entitled to a free lawyer, their victims have no such entitlement. In fact, nearly 75% of the poor in our communities have no idea that there is anyone who can help them with such matters, nor do they understand that they are qualified for this help. Without our services, many would do nothing about their situation (which could ultimately take a relatively simple problem and turn it into a major and complex issue), or they would attempt to represent themselves in court with little chance of success in our complex system of laws.Some would have ended up homeless. Some would have lost their children. Some would have plunged even deeper into debt or poverty. These options are unacceptable in a country that stands on a foundation of justice for ALL, and yet sits dead last out of the world’s top 36 developed countries in providing its citizens with access to justice, according to a recently-released Rule of Law Index.
We are viewed as a trusted source by leaders for our well-reasoned and balanced approach to the needs of our low-income, racially diverse neighbors. In fact, Kane County built rooms in the courthouse for us so we could assist across social and racial barriers. The chief judge sought out Administer Justice’s input on court space usage and how to best serve those of low income. Administer Justice is a recipient of the John D. Robb award, a national recognition for our unique holistic approach to legal advocacy for the poor. The award is named after one of the founders of the Legal Services Corporation. In 2012, Administer Justice received the Elgin Image Award for our contributions to the local community and also received the Club Guadalupano Les Lempke Award which recognizes significant contributions to the local Hispanic community. In 2013, we were honored to receive WORLD Magazine’s National Hope Award for Effective Compassion, recognizing our impact on those trapped in poverty. Most recently, Administer Justice was recognized by the Illinois Senate for our efforts in the fight against human trafficking.