In 1969, a group of local attorneys established the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to provide quality legal counsel to those clients whose civil rights cases and projects would benefit the community at large. The first board believed that "the poor and the black can become full and equal participants in our economic and political systems only when they achieve the power to deal on equal terms with public and private institutions. An essential element of that power is access to expert legal resources."
This vision continues to guide the efforts of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee. The mission of the Committee is to promote and protect civil rights, particularly the civil rights of poor, minority and disadvantaged people, in order to facilitate their participation in the social, economic and political systems of our nation. Through individual and class action litigation as well as non-litigation programs, the Committee works on behalf of the voiceless and dispossessed members of our society: racial, ethnic, and religious minorities; children; women; and people with disabilities.
The Committee's strength lies in the commitment and ability of its member law firms. Each year, several hundred attorneys at Chicago law firms contribute approximately 18,000 hours of their time. Obviously, the dedication of this highly qualified volunteer corps multiplies the Committee's ability to handle matters of law reform and impact. These lawyers work on significant issues which provide a meaningful experience for attorneys involved in all types of practice, including litigation, corporate, real estate, tax, and finance. Membership in the Chicago Lawyers' Committee allows law firms to focus their pro bono resources where they will accomplish the most good, and where they will have a lasting impact.
Poverty, prejudice, and lack of opportunity continue to plague Chicago. As the Committee expands to meet the challenges of the unfinished civil rights agenda, we reach out to our friends in the legal, corporate, and foundation communities, encouraging even greater participation and support.
Please contact Executive Director Jay Readey for more information on becoming a member of the Lawyers' Committee or to join an Advisory Panel.