Molly Brooks was Outreach Coordinator and a Staff Attorney for The Law Project. She recruited nonprofit clients, develops strategic partnerships with law firms and volunteer attorneys, conducts training programs for attorneys and clients, and implements program developments. Most recently, Molly worked as an attorney at Sidley Austin LLP. Prior to her work at Sidley, Molly was Operations and Programs Manager at Executive Service Corps of Cincinnati. At Executive Service Corps, Molly matched business professionals with consulting and coaching projects at nonprofits. She also managed nonprofit capacity-building programs and worked on strategic planning projects.
Molly is a graduate of Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, received her law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law, and completed the Nonprofit Leadership Development Institute in Cincinnati.
Gabriela Russek was an Associate in the Development and External Affairs Department. She specialized in improving CLC's systems for contact management, workflow co-ordination, and outcomes tracking.
Gabriela graduated from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in Law, Letters and Society. She has previously worked as a community organizer at EZRA Multi-Service Center on the north side of Chicago, and a research associate at RCF Economic and Financial Consulting. She is on the board of Qumbya Housing, a 501(c)(3) affordable co-operative housing organization.
The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee recently won a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) case against a background check company, Infotrack Information Services, Inc. The suit charged that Infotrack recklessly reported criminal background information without checking basic information – without checking whether birthdates, race information, or middle initials matched – and as a consequence falsely reported that individuals had heinous records as sex offenders. Rather than contest the suit, Infotrack immediately paid $35,000 to settle the case, satisfying all relief the individual plaintiff could possibly recover under FCRA. Attorney Chris Wilmes of Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym led the case.
The Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights is starting a new pro bono program to represent students at school expulsion hearings. On January 11, 2012, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee will offer an orientation and training session for lawyers who may be interested in representing students at these hearings.
Work on these cases offers excellent litigation experience, presenting the opportunity to interview and develop a working relationship with the client, investigate and develop the case, and conduct a trial-type administrative hearing with an independent hearing officer, presenting direct testimony, cross-examination of witnesses, and opening and closing statements. This is excellent litigation opportunity for lawyers who do not routinely get courtroom trial experience.
These are short term commitments, typically requiring between 15 and 25 hours of work, completed over a period of three to six weeks. Pro bono lawyers who take on these cases will receive continuing assistance from the Lawyers’ Committee, form documents, and instruction materials.
Representation of students at expulsion hearings will meet a crucial public need. Expulsions in the Chicago Public School system are high and increasing at an alarming rate. There were 775 expulsions in 2008, up from 172 eleven years earlier, in 1997. Being expelled will often have devastating effects. Once expelled, students are likely to drop out. Without a high school diploma, in this economy, they have almost no chance of finding a job – they risk a ruined life of poverty. Expelled students are at high risk for gang activity and future incarceration. Representation at expulsion hearings is an important effort that can be made to break the school-to-prison pipeline.
In addition, school expulsion data show a problem of significant racial disparities. In 2006, African-American students made up 48.5% of CPS’s students without disabilities, but they received 80.5% of the student expulsions. The African-American expulsion rate was six times the rate of expulsions for whites. These disparities are increasing. According to Catalyst, more than 60% of expelled students in 2008 were black boys, up from 53% five years ago. Representation of African-American students at expulsion hearings is likely to produce more equitable outcomes, reducing the level of racial disparity.
To find out about representing students in these hearings and receive training, lawyers are invited to the orientation and training session on:
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 9:30 a.m. – noon
Held at: Schiff Hardin, LLP
66th Fl. Conference room
233 South Wacker Dr.
The Lawyers’ Committee expects to be able to provide CLE credit for attendance.
If you plan to attend, please notify Paul Strauss at the Lawyers’ Committee by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning (312) 630-9744 ext. 229. Questions should also be directed to Paul Strauss.
On Thursday, December 8 The Law Project's Home Ownership Program celebrated its 355th Choose to Own closing. With this closing, we have exceeded our 2011 goal of 30 CHA closing, marking our 31st closing this year. The purchase price on this home was $192,000 for 5 bedrooms, and the home is located in zip code 60651, which has a 16.27% poverty rate.
Special thanks to Marlene Corral from the Spanish Coalition, Cheryl Wiesneth of PNC Mortgage, and Mark Graham, volunteer attorney, for helping this happen.
CLC welcomes Adama Wiltshire, who will be the Development Associate and Executive Assistant. Prior to attending the University of Chicago, Adama interned at the Trinidad and Tobago National Commission for UNESCO, where she initiated the first major fundraising and development program for UNESCO clubs in the Caribbean country. She previously worked at CLC as a Civil Rights Intern.
Adama Wiltshire begins her volunteer work at the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee as a Civil Rights Intern.