On October 29, 2012, Jill Roberts ’08 was one of five lawyers dedicated to helping people in need received who received a 2012 Chicago Bar Foundation (CBF) Sun-Times Public Interest Law Fellowship.
First awarded in 2007, the CBF awards five annual fellowships of up to $50,000 per fellowship to individual legal aid or public interest law attorneys who demonstrate a commitment to public interest work, academic achievement in law school, and outstanding character and integrity. The CBF SunTimes Fellowship addresses a crisis facing lawyers in our community who are increasingly finding that a career in legal aid and public interest law is simply untenable from an economic standpoint.
Lawyers graduating today typically have an average of more than $100,000 in law school debt (and it is increasingly common for law graduates to have $150,000 or more in debt), while starting salaries at pro bono and legal aid organizations in the Chicago area average only $49,000. Through a generous $2 million cy pres award from a case involving the Chicago Sun-Times, the CBF was able to create these fellowships to provide significant loan repayment assistance to those who most need it. “One of our key priorities at the CBF is to help make it possible for dedicated attorneys to pursue and maintain careers in legal aid,” said Bob Glaves, executive director of The Chicago Bar Foundation.
“These attorneys have made enormous personal financial sacrifices to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our community have access to the protections of our justice system. Many of them face mortgage-sized law school debt. The CBF Sun-Times Fellowship aims to help alleviate some of these financial concerns and make it more manageable for these exceptional attorneys to continue their careers in legal aid.”
Jill Roberts works for Cabrini Green Legal Aid, where she represents clients facing eviction as well as those who need assistance with family law matters. Jill graduated summa cum laude from Saint Mary’s College and, in 2008, received her J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law with a Certificate in Public Interest Law. She received the Dean’s Distinguished Public Service Award for completing over 250 hours of community service while in law school. Following graduation, Jillcompleted a one-year judicial clerkship with the United States Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review at the Detroit Immigration Court.
She then spent a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA attorney at LAF, where she worked on the Chicago Medical-Legal Partnership for Children. In 2010, Jill joined CGLA as a staff attorney. She currently holds a unique position with dual roles in CGLA’s family law and criminal records programs. Her work includes managing a high-volume caseload of divorce, order of protection, custody, visitation, parentage, expungement, sealing and clemency cases. JIll also is the only Spanish speaking attorney on staff, and her language abilities have enabled CGLA to serve a broader population of clients.
About The Chicago Bar Foundation
The Chicago Bar Foundation (CBF) mobilizes Chicago’s legal community to ensure that everyone in the Chicago metropolitan area has equal access to justice, particularly the low-income and disadvantaged people who most critically need the protections of the legal system. Through grants, advocacy, pro bono and partnerships, the CBF takes a system-wide approach to improving access to justice.
As the charitable arm of The Chicago Bar Association, the CBF’s work is made possible by the generous contributions of thousands of dedicated individuals, more than 200 law firms and corporations, and many other committed partners. Thanks to that strong support, the CBF awarded more than $4 million in grants in 2012 and continues to play a lead role in a number of innovative access to justice initiatives.