Photo of Shelby Smith

Shelby Smith

  • Hosted by Public Interest Law Initiative
  • Sponsored by Deere & Company, Lane & Waterman LLP, Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP
  • Service location Chicago, Illinois
  • Law school Loyola University Chicago School of Law
  • Issue area Veterans' Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2018
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Recruiting, training, and transporting pro bono attorneys and law students from urban areas to provide legal services for individuals without access to those services in rural Illinois

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project

Out of 63,000 attorneys in Illinois, there are only about 400 legal aid attorneys. Outside of Cook County in Illinois, eighty-four attorneys are responsible for providing legal aid services to nearly 400,000 low-income residents in 101 counties. Three of Illinois’ twenty-two multi-county judicial circuits do not have a single legal aid attorney based within their borders. For many who need legal services this can mean traveling 50 to 75 miles for legal services, which is impossible for many. Pro bono attorneys in urban areas would like to provide those services and reach those who cannot access legal aid. Unfortunately, these attorneys are not sure how or where to volunteer and there are not many opportunities for them to do so. This project recruits legal volunteers from law firms, corporations, and law schools and transports them to rural areas to offer legal services through one to two day clinics.

The Right Person For This Project

Shelby is the right person for the project because:

  • Her grandfather was a farmer in Lexington, Kentucky and her mother student taught in Eastern Kentucky, so she has been aware of the unique issues facing rural and remote areas her whole life
  • She spent her second year of law school volunteering and assisting in coordinating a Veteran’s legal clinic on the west side of Chicago and is passionate about bringing legal services to people in their communities
  • She believes that community lawyering works in breaking down barriers and making sure everyone, no matter their location or income, can access legal service

Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship

In the first six months, Shelby will:

  • Work with legal service providers to identify areas that they cannot reach
  • Collaborate with social service providers to identify legal needs for the clinic to address
  • Conduct community outreach in rural areas throughout the state by traveling to those locations and meeting with potential partners
  • Start recruiting volunteers from law firms, corporations, and law schools
  • Identify a location to hold the first clinic
  • Start preparing resources and materials for the first clinic

Meet Other Fellows Like Shelby

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Photo of Christian Piatt

Christian Piatt

Host: Homeless Persons Representation Project, Inc.

Sponsor: Covington & Burling LLP, Northrop Grumman Corporation

Current Fellow

Jessica Marsden

Host: University of North Carolina School of Law Clinical Program

Sponsor: Kirkland & Ellis, Raytheon

Michael Stone

Host: Homeless Persons Representation Project, Inc.

Sponsor: Hogan Lovells LLP, Lockheed Martin Corporation

Eleyse D’andrea

Host: William & Mary Law School

Sponsor: Hogan Lovells LLP, Lockheed Martin Corporation