Our Mission

CDEL has a dual mission, which has remained constant since the organization was founded in 1984:

1. To provide free legal services to low-income seniors and persons with disabilities who reside in Chicago and suburban Cook County, Illinois.

2. To foster the spirit of pro bono service throughout the Chicago and Cook County legal communities.

Due to our dual mission, CDEL utilizes volunteers in all of our programming.  There are volunteer opportunities for everyone. You can find more information about how to volunteer with CDEL  here .

See CDEL's work in action

Who We Are

For over 35 years, CDEL has been providing free legal services to low-income residents of Cook County, Illinois who are either elderly or who have permanent disabilities. There are few legal resources available to these vulnerable and underrepresented clienteles. Today, the vision and mission of CDEL are as relevant and the need for legal assistance to these populations is as critical, as they were when we were founded by the Chicago Bar Association.

CDEL's Commitment to DEI

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The mission of the Center for Disability & Elder Law is to provide free legal services to low-income seniors and persons with disabilities, and to foster the spirit of pro bono service throughout Cook County. To fulfill our mission, CDEL is committed to the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).


Meeting our mission depends on a deep investment in our client relationships.  Our clients hold diverse histories and experiences across a range of intersecting identities, including among others race, ethnicity, age, sex, class, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Many of our clients experience interlocking oppressions, such as racism, ageism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and transphobia.


Prioritizing DEI at all levels of our organization is necessary for CDEL to effectively pursue justice for our clients. CDEL must be driven by the needs and priorities of our clients and the communities where they live. By ensuring a rich tapestry of lived experiences across all stakeholder groups, CDEL:

  1. Better understands, and responds to, the needs of our clients.

  2. Positions itself to

  3. Promotes trust and excellent service among our clients. 


As CDEL continues to evolve into a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable organization, we commit to bold action to dismantle interlocking oppressive systems of power faced by our clients.


CDEL’s Definition of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Diversity refers to the presence of difference within an organization including the characteristics of the people. Equity refers to intentional measures taken within an organization that ensure everyone receives the same opportunities, recognizing societal systemic barriers that limit access to opportunity for diverse individuals. Inclusion refers to the degree of acceptance and affirmation, respect and engagement, experienced by individuals with diverse identities within an organization. These concepts build upon each other: a diverse organization must be inclusive to be equitable, and must operate equitably to become inclusive and diverse.