Key Partnerships

In addition to working with many organizations that approach us on an as-needed basis to list opportunities, we have established partnerships with several non-profit organizations and two Chicago public schools that continue from year to year:

Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic provides free legal aid in the areas of family, housing and criminal law. Many student volunteers assist at the Expungement Self Help Desk at the Daley Center to enable individuals with past arrests or convictions who have demonstrated positive life changes to become more productive members of our community. Contact the Volunteer Coordinator at (312) 266-1345.

Catholic Charities Legal Assistance provides the working poor and homeless with basic legal advice, educational outreach, self-help materials, access to a network of pro bono attorneys, and referrals to other legal aid organizations. Catholic Charities is one of the nation's largest social service networks and provides vital services to people in need regardless of their religious, social, or economic backgrounds. Contact Hilda Bahena at

Center for Disability and Elder Law is a non-profit pro bono legal services organization that provides legal aid to low-income senior citizens and people with disabilities through the volunteer efforts of attorneys and paralegals from Chicago law firms and corporate legal departments. Law students assist with client intake and case support. Contact Thomas Wendt, chief legal officer, by email or at (312) 376-1880.

Chicago Youth Programs empowers at-risk youth to reach their full potential by providing tutoring programs, free health care, recreational programs, cultural activities, and career placement opportunities that promote whole-child development. Tutoring and mentoring programs for children living in Cabrini Green public housing occur Tuesdays and Wednesday evenings at Northwestern Law throughout the academic year. For more information, call (773) 924-0220, ext. 126 or e-mail

Ladder Up is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing innovative and free financial services to low-income families. Ladder Up enables the working poor to claim tax credits and refunds as well as provides them with the tools to pursue education and develop savings plans. More than 57,000 families have benefited from Ladder Up's services for an economic impact of $93 million. Volunteers do not need a business or finance background to participate; Ladder Up provides the necessary training and materials. The program runs from January through April 15. Available volunteer roles include: Tax Preparer, Site Leader, Financial Aid Leader, Greeter/Screener, Site Assistant, Translator, and IT Manager.

Lawyers in the Classroom is a program coordinated by the Chicago Bar Association that partners law students and lawyers with elementary school classes to help students understand the U.S. Constitution and our legal system.

Talcott Fine Arts and Museum Academy
In 2003 Northwestern Law adopted Talcott Fine Arts and Museum Academy in West Town as part of an educational partnership with Chicago Public Schools' Futures Exchange Program. Talcott is a century-old school that serves a mostly low-income, Latino student population, 30 percent of whom have limited English skills. The partnership is an initiative of the Student Effort to Rejuvenate Volunteering (SERV) student organization to provide an opportunity for Law School students, faculty, and staff, to come together in service.

Each year the Northwestern Law community participates in a variety of programs to make a difference in the lives of students at Talcott. Examples include Dean of Students, Cliff Zimmerman, acting as Principal for a Day; senior staff members devoting half a day to help Talcott's librarian organize books; volunteers tutoring third graders and acting as pen pals; the Habeas Chorus sponsoring a talent show to raise money for Talcott's music department; and the Law School IT department donating computers to the school.

Our efforts have had a positive impact, as Talcott was named a "Rising Star" school because of its exceptional improvement in academic performance.

Current volunteer opportunities include:

  • Being a pen pal to a fourth grader
  • Reading aloud with a third grader on Thursdays during lunch
  • Teaching constitutional rights foundation lessons through the Lawyer in the Classroom Program

For more information, contact Pro Bono and Public Service Program Director Maureen Stratton at (312) 503-4558 or by e-mail.