Who We Serve
The Center for Disability and Elder Law (CDEL) was founded to provide legal services to low-income residents of Cook County, Illinois who are either elderly or who have permanent disabilities. Studies report that more than eighty percent of all low income individuals are unable to obtain legal representation; and, that all of those who live in poverty will experience at least one legal problem each year.
The need for legal assistance and services on the part of these clients has increased dramatically over the past ten years, and continues to grow. The number of persons in the United States over 65 is expected to double by 2030. Ten years ago almost fifty million Americans were affected daily by a disability-one out of every five. This number is also expected to increase significantly. These national trends are evident in Illinois and in Cook County as well.
Who Provides Legal Services
Dedicated volunteers from some of the largest law firms in Chicago, and from firms and corporations located throughout Cook County, as well as paralegals, provide over ninety percent of the all of the legal services CDEL delivers, pro bono, to our clients. Because CDEL staff screens and creates client files, coordinates the Initiatives, and provides training and support to our volunteers, they are able to focus their valuable time on direct provision of legal services. CDEL strongly encourages the involvement of newly licensed attorneys, as well as paralegals, law students and interns, to engage their interest and foster their commitment to pro bono public interest law early in their careers.
CDEL Fact Sheet
CDEL Mission - for more than 27 years:
- Provide free legal services to Cook County low-income seniors and disabled persons
- Foster a pro bono culture within the Cook County legal community
CDEL provides direct representation in a range of legal areas, including:
- Adult Guardianship
- Consumer Fraud
- Divorce- uncontested
- Estate Planning: Powers of Attorney; Simple Wills; Living Will Declarations
- Elder Financial Abuse
- Mortgage Fraud
- Property Tax and Title issues
- Public Utilities
CDEL also provides legal services through Initiatives:
- Senior Center Initiative - SCI – Provides seniors the opportunity to prepare powers of attorney for health care and property, and living will declarations.
- Senior Tax Opportunity Program - STOP – CDEL partners with the Cook County Assessor’s and Treasurer’s offices to prevent seniors from losing their homes due to property tax delinquencies by helping seniors obtain available senior tax exemptions.
- Senior Legal Assistance Clinics – SLAC - At the Clinics, eligible seniors are able to meet with CDEL volunteers in a convenient location so CDEL can evaluate the senior’s legal issue.
CDEL provides assistance to pro se litigants through:
- Pro Se Adult Guardianship Help Desk – CDEL partners with the Cook County Circuit Court to administer this court-based service Monday through Friday when court is in session. The Help Desk provides procedural information and assistance to people seeking to petition, pro se, for appointment of a personal guardian for an adult with a disability.
CDEL by the Numbers:
- Through the Senior Center Initiative (SCI), as of December 31, 2011, CDEL had made 333 Presentations to senior citizen groups; offered 56 CLE Seminars; held 192 Workshops, & assisted over 2,280 seniors prepare powers of attorney for health care and property & living will declarations.
- Through the Senior Tax Opportunity Program (STOP), as of December 31, 2011, CDEL has trained over 75 volunteers and provided information and consultation regarding exemptions to over 2,500 senior home owners.
- Through December 31, 2011, 2,304 people have contacted the Adult Guardianship Help Desk, over 1,900 have been assisted: 1,089 pro se litigants with adult guardianship legal process, and 829 with information and referral to other agencies, programs or resources for further assistance.