Having legal problems can be personal, isolating, and overwhelming, especially for people experiencing financial stress and mental health crisis. Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) exists to help people understand their legal situation, their options, and how to take action in the most affordable way possible. In 2018, ILAO helped 2.27 million people with free resources for navigating the legal system.
ILAO is a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a small staff, but hundreds of trained volunteers, many of whom are licensed attorneys. Through innovation and technology, ILAO leverages the expertise and service of its staff and volunteers to:
- Level the playing field for over 2 million people who otherwise could not afford to hire an attorney to help with legal matters such as immigration/deportation, housing law, family law, domestic abuse, and bankruptcy.
- Provide free and easy online access to legal forms, which are used to create nearly 40,000 personalized documents per year.
- Be a neutral clearinghouse of information for plaintiffs and defendants in civil court.
- Provide services in multiple languages, including Spanish (nearly 16,000 in 2018) and Polish (in 2019)
- Be available every day, all day and night whenever someone needs help. Between 1:00 am and 7:00 am, over 60,000 people per month visit the website.
ILAO provides easy to understand guides, check lists, and forms for legal matters such as:
- Family and Safety, including divorcee, child custody, abuse and assault, adoption, parentage, parents’ rights, guardianship, emancipation, name change, separation and annulment, child support and childcare, injury or accident, marriage and civil union.
- Housing, including eviction, foreclosure, landlord/tenant disputes, owning or buying a home, security deposits, Section 8 vouchers and public housing, and housing discrimination.
- Money and Debt, including: unpaid bills, collecting money owed, bankruptcy, loans, taxes, unemployment benefits, credit scores and reports, funeral planning, estate planning, banking and financial services issues, child support and childcare, consumer product or service complaints, and identity theft.
- Health and Benefits, including: applying for benefits (SNAP, TANF, general assistance), disability, social security, medical bills, nursing home care, veterans affairs, disaster relief, and heating benefits.
- Business and Work, including: current/former employer/employee issues, farm worker issues, military service issues, discrimination, workers’ compensation, starting and running a small business, and working as a teenager or child.
- School and Education, including: school residency and enrollment, expulsion/suspension/discipline, bullying, school fees and waivers, free or reduced lunch programs, students with disabilities, discrimination, student loans, privacy concerns, and continuing education for adults.
- Citizens and Immigration, including: citizenship, immigration status/rights, work permits, and sponsoring an immigrant.
- Crime and Traffic, including: cars and car ownership, traffic and parking tickets, criminal records, witnessing a crime, victims’ rights, police, juvenile justice, and prisoner’s rights.
Common questions that are answered at ILAO include:
- Where can I find a Legal Self Help Center and access to a computer and internet?
- How do I qualify for free legal help?
- What should I consider before hiring a lawyer?
- How do I get a divorce? Can I do it without hiring an attorney?
Total IIC Funding: