Need

In Illinois, there are approximately 750,000 veterans, 20,000 active service members, and 13,000 members of the Illinois National Guard. There are over 20,000 dependents of service members who were deployed between 9/11/2001 and 5/31/2015. A survey of legal aid providers and veteran serving organizations demonstrates that civil legal services are a highly sought resource by these groups. The top civil legal needs fall into the broad categories of housing, family, and consumer law issues. In addition, veterans often need assistance with VA benefits and appeals and discharge upgrades.

Civil legal problems destabilize families and can be barriers to benefits, housing, anD employment.


Overview and Implementing Legislation

The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) has been charged with the implementation of Public Act 99-0281, an amendment to the Access to Justice Act (2013). The Act created the Illinois Access to Civil Justice Council, with the mandate to create a pilot statewide legal assistance hotline and coordinated network of legal support services for military personnel, veterans, and their families. This effort is funded by a $2 filing fee on all civil filings until 2020. IEJF is responsible for developing, monitoring, and reporting on this project, with leadership from the Illinois Access to Civil Justice Council.


Members and Affiliates

Members:

CARPLS - Everyday Justice

CARPLS

CDEL - Center for Disability & Elder Law

Center for Disability & Elder Law

CVLS - Chicago Volunteer Legal Services

Chicago Volunteer Legal Services

John Marshall Law School

John Marshall Law School Veterans Legal Support Center & Clinic

LAF Logo

 

LAF

Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation

Land of Lincoln Legal Aid

Loyola University Chicago - School of Law
Loyola University of Chicago School of Law Veterans Legal Clinic

PILI - Public Interest Law Initiative

Public Interest Law Initiative

Prairie State Legal Services

Southern Illinois University - School of Law

Southern Illinois University School of Law Veterans’ Legal Assistance Program

Affiliates:

Catholic Charities Legal Assistance

Catholic Charities Legal Assistance

CCR - Center for Conflict Resolution

Center for Conflict Resolution

Chicago Legal Clinic

Chicago Legal Clinic

University of Illinois School of Law

University of Illinois School of Law

Justice Entrepreneurs Project

Justice Entrepreneurs Project

The Kaufman Fund Logo

The Kaufman Fund

Lawyers' Committe for Better Housing Logo

Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing

Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services

Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services

Northwest Suburban Bar Association

Northwest Suburban Bar Association


Illinois Access to Civil Justice Council

Trish McGill, Chair

Appointed by the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Trish formerly served as the General Counsel and Ethics Officer for the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.  She joined the State of Illinois after serving as a Senior Policy Advisor to the US Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence.  Prior to that, she was a Senior Policy Advisor to the Chief Defense Counsel for the Office of Military Commissions working on Guantanamo Bay detainee litigation.  Before attending law school at DePaul University College of Law, Trish served six years in the Army as a Counterintelligence Special Agent and Russian linguist.  She is currently an attorney in the government affairs department at United Airlines.


Tom Banning

Appointed by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General

Tom currently serves as the Chief of the Illinois Attorney General’s Military & Veteran’s Rights Bureau and is the ISERRA Advocate. Prior to that, Tom served as counsel for the Illinois Department of Military Affairs. He served over 20 years in the military as both a Judge Advocate and in the Infantry in both the United States Marine Corps and the Illinois Army National Guard. He is a Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Just Cause. Tom is a graduate of St. Louis University School of Law.


Bob Glaves

Appointed by the Chicago Bar Foundation

Bob has served as the Executive Director of the Chicago Bar Foundation since 1999.  Prior to his current position, Bob was a civil litigator with Menges, Mikus & Molzahn.  Bob is active on the advocacy front and led the effort to amend the Access to Justice Act so work could begin on the legal aid hotline for veterans and active military.  He has also been active in the Joining Forces legal resources committee.  He is a member of the Chicago Bar Association and the American Bar Association.  Bob is a graduate of John Marshall Law School.


Deborah Golden

Appointed by the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation

Deb serves as the Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of GATX Corporation.  Prior to her work at GATX, Deb served as Vice President and General Counsel of Midwest Generation LLC and as the Assistant General Counsel for Ameritech Corporation and SBC Communications, Inc.  Additionally, she served as Deputy General Counsel for the State of Illinois and began her career at Schiff Hardin & Waite.  She is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago and a current Board member of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation.  Deb earned her law degree from Loyola University of Chicago.


Lauren Meachum

Appointed by the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation

Lauren is a partner in the firm of Meachum & Starck.  She served as a Captain in the Judge Advocate General Corp of the US Army and is a NITA certified instructor.  She is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the DuPage County Bar Association as well as a member of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation.  Lauren is a graduate of the University of Illinois, College of Law.


George R. Ripplinger

Appointed by the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois

George is a partner in the firm Ripplinger & Zimmer in Belleville, IL.  He is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Missouri Bar Association.  He has served as a member of the Board of the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, the Illinois Bar Foundation, the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation and Illinois Legal Aid Online.  George is a retired Colonel of the US Army Medical Services Corp and a graduate of the University of Illinois, College of Law.


The Honorable Ronald D. Spears

Appointed by the Illinois Bar Foundation

Judge Spears served as a Judge in the 4th Judicial Circuit 1993 to 2015. He is a member of the Illinois Judges Association, the Illinois State Bar Association and the Illinois Bar Foundation.  He is a retired Colonel of the Illinois Army National Guard and served in the Judge Advocate General Corp.  Judge Spears is a graduate of Southern Illinois University School of Law.


Past Members

Grant Swinger

Grant currently works in the general counsel's office at the Edward J. Hines, Jr. VA Hospital. During his tenure on the Council, Grant served as an Illinois Assistant Attorney General working on veterans’ issues. Then and now he is a Command Judge Advocate in the Illinois National Guard.  He has also served as the Deputy General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs.  Grant is a graduate of Syracuse University College of Law.


More Information

Contact Zach Zarnow at  ZZarnow@iejf.org.