CDEL was founded in 1984 by the Chicago Bar Association, partly in response to a study which reported that over eighty percent (80%) of all low income individuals are unable to obtain legal representation. Other studies show that one hundred percent (100%) of those who live in poverty will experience at least one legal problem each year.

There are even fewer legal resources available to low income persons with disabilities. Recent data reports that the lives of almost fifty million Americans are affected daily by a disability - one out of every five. It has long been established that persons with disabilities are the poorest, least employed, least mobile and most invisible members of our society.  These persons encounter financial, physical, communication and attitudinal barriers which restrict, if not preclude meaningful access to the legal system. 

CDEL serves both of these vulnerable and underrepresented clientele. The numbers of low income persons who are elderly or who have a disability and their need for legal assistance have grown and continue to grow. Today, the vision and mission of the Center for Disability & Elder Law are as relevant, and the need for legal assistance to these populations is as critical as they were more than thirty years ago.

Click here to read some of CDEL's HISTORICAL HIGHLIGHTS.