FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Lisa Colpoys, Executive Director Michael Bergmann, Director of Programs
Illinois Legal Aid Online Public Interest Law Initiative
312-977-9047 x 11 312-832-5129
NEW ONLINE SYSTEM CONNECTS PRO BONO LEGAL PROFESSIONALS
WITH MENTORS, MENTEES & CASE PARTNERS
Free resource on IllinoisProBono.org makes pro bono work
more accessible, efficient and effective for both attorneys and clients.
CHICAGO, IL, August 17, 2010 – Legal professionals across Illinois can now easily find help with
pro bono cases thanks to the Pro Bono Case Pairing and Mentor Matching System, an innovative
new resource on www.IllinoisProBono.org. Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) developed and
launched the online system in partnership with the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) to promote
pro bono work throughout Illinois by connecting legal volunteers with one another as mentors and
mentees or as case partners.
The Pro Bono Case Pairing and Mentor Matching System aims to link professionals who are newer
to pro bono work to more experienced volunteers who wish to serve as mentors, and to connect
individuals to work together on specific pro bono matters. The system can be used by attorneys, law
students, paralegals, and legal secretaries who would like to do pro bono work in Illinois.
“The Pro Bono Case Pairing and Mentor Matching System presents a new and exciting way not only
for lawyers, but also for other volunteers in the pro bono community such as paralegals, to work
together on pro bono cases or matters to increase the amount of pro bono legal services provided to
the many people in need of such help in Illinois,” says David Erie, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
Erie serves on the Board of Directors of PILI and chairs the PILI Pro Bono Opportunities Team,
which helped develop the framework of the new online system.
“The system tries to facilitate bringing together interested people for a worthy cause in a different
and technologically-friendly way,” Erie says.
The Pro Bono Case Pairing and Mentor Matching System is accessible by clicking on the
“Mentor/Case Match” button on the IllinoisProBono.org website. Pro bono practitioners have the
option to find a mentor, become a mentor, find assistance with a case, or become a case partner.
Those interested in sharing their time and talents can fill out a “Mentor Profile” or “Case Partner
Profile.” Using a detailed matching algorithm, the system scans these profiles for the best fit when
someone makes a “Find a Mentor” or “Find Assistance with a Case” request.
A “match” is made based on the information pro bono practitioners put in their profiles or requests,
including practice area experience, skills being sought, type of assistance, county location, and more.
If a mentor or case partner profile fits the requirements of a request, the person seeking assistance is
immediately notified on-screen of up to five potential matches. If a match is not immediately found,
users can modify their request or wait to be notified by the system when a match is found.
With the recent launch of the system, experienced pro bono attorneys are needed to serve as mentors.
This is a great opportunity for experienced pro bono practitioners, such as retired attorneys or
attorneys whose practice demands prevent them from handling a pro bono matter at this time, to still
contribute to the cause of access to justice.
One of the many perks of the Pro Bono Case Pairing and Mentor Matching System is that it puts
volunteers in control of what sort of pro bono service they can and are willing to do. “Some attorneys
get worried about making a commitment to pro bono because they don’t want to take on more than
they can handle,” says Nikki Carrion, Chairperson of the Illinois State Bar Association Committee on
the Delivery of Legal Services. “The system is designed to provide options,” she explains, such as
preferred method of communication and number of hours available to volunteer, which allow
potential volunteers to find opportunities according to their preferences.
Since the new system is entirely Internet-based, it transcends geographical barriers. For example,
Carrion explains, “If someone in downstate Illinois wants to learn about immigration law, they can
easily use the system to look for a mentor in Chicago,” where immigration is more widely practiced.
All legal professionals who register on IllinoisProBono.org can access the Pro Bono Case Pairing
and Mentor Matching System. Registration is free and provides website users with access to training
and practice support in 30 areas of law. Practice manuals, legal articles, sample pleadings, automated
documents, CLE programs, training webcasts, and a volunteer opportunity search tool are also
available on IllinoisProBono.org.
This new system will make pro bono work more accessible, efficient and effective for pro bono
attorneys and the clients they serve. “Private attorneys, legal aid organizations and citizens of Illinois
benefit from having a larger pool of pro bono attorneys,” Carrion says. “I hope the private bar takes
advantage of the system.”
“With this new resource, there are endless possibilities for new pro bono partnerships that will result
in more legal professionals providing much needed legal assistance to Illinois’ poor and
underrepresented,” says Michael Bergmann, PILI Director of Programs.
About Illinois Legal Aid Online
Illinois Legal Aid Online is a nationally-recognized, groundbreaking statewide technology center for
legal services. Since 2001, it has developed technology and information to increase access to justice
for Illinois residents. For more information, visit www.IllinoisLegalAidOnline.org.
About the Public Law Interest Initiative (PILI)
Since its founding in 1977, the Public Law Interest Initiative has cultivated a lifelong commitment to
public interest law by creating opportunities for law students and attorneys to provide public interest
and pro bono work in Illinois. For more information, visit www.PILI-Law.org.