CARPLS

Everyday Justice for Everyday People

aka CARPLS   |   Chicago, IL   |  www.carpls.org

Mission

Using innovation and technology, CARPLS' experienced attorneys level the legal playing field, promote a more effective justice system, and give clients powerful tools to solve problems and overcome life challenges.

Ruling year info

1993

Executive Director

Mr. Allen Schwartz

Main address

17 N State St Ste 1850

Chicago, IL 60602 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

36-3863573

NTEE code info

Legal Services (I80)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Most people going into civil courts represent themselves because they cannot afford legal representation. 2/3 of CARPLS clients have never spoken to an attorney before us. They are overwhelmed with their legal problem at hand, often concerning housing, family or consumer law. CARPLS is the starting point and, if called early enough in the process, we can help them avoid significant troubles and potentially stay out of court. 85% of the time, CARPLS is the only legal resource available. 15% of the time, we can match clients to additional services. The hotline helps address the need to provide legal guidance for those who are self-represented.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

CARPLS Legal Aid Hotline and Court Advice Desks

We are Cook County's largest provider of free legal services. We offer assistance over the telephone and at four of our court-based advice desks to low-income individuals and working people whose modest incomes might otherwise disqualify them from receiving free legal help. Most of the time, our experienced and compassionate attorneys resolve issues in a single phone call. If in-court representation is required, we may be able to assist with a referral to a free or reduced-fee legal service provider. We advance more than 50,000 free legal services annually .

Population(s) Served

Civil legal aid is one of the most pressing yet overlooked needs facing Illinois' nearly one million veterans and military service members. In 2017, CARPLS launched the first statewide legal aid hotline for veterans and military to serve as the anchor of the Illinois Armed Forces Legal Aid Network (IL-AFLAN) funded by the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation. The IL-AFLAN hotline broadens our services to veterans, military members, and their families anywhere in the state of Illinois, providing them free and immediate access to an attorney. We assist our veteran and military clients with any civil legal problem, as well as veteran-related issues such as military discharge upgrades and securing VA benefits.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of clients served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We track this number using our cutting-edge proprietary software.

Number of phone calls/inquiries

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We track this number using our cutting-edge proprietary software.

Net promoter score

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

This is the PERCENT of individuals who say they would "Recommend CARPLS to a Friend." We began surveying clients via email in October 2014.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

We break down barriers to legal access. Regardless of where you live in Chicago or what your situation is, all it takes is one call to receive help.
The CARPLS Legal Aid Hotline is unique in that no one is turned away based on the type of legal problem they face. We also provide an important service in the community by matching clients to the niche services our legal aid partners provide. CARPLS is the only provider that maintains an open intake that is capable of effectively responding to the full range of legal needs of low-income families, including but not limited to the high volume of consumer, family and housing legal issues. The crux of our services is that an attorney is available to speak directly with our clients to resolve their legal issues. Our staff attorneys have an average of 25+ years of experience, so when a client calls they are getting high-level knowledge, understanding, and empathy.
Without our services, clients might fall through the cracks with severe implications such as homelessness, loss of income, and destabilized families. More than 45% of our clients earn less than 100% of the federal poverty guidelines, which is $12,760 for an individual and $26,200 for a family of four.
In the U.S., more than 77% of all legal aid cases are resolved with advice and brief services (2017 Justice Gap Report, Legal Services Corporation), which is CARPLS' specialty. In many cases, a brief legal consultation with an attorney can resolve most everyday legal problems, helping a single parent get child support, a veteran obtain health benefits, a single working mom keep her home, or a senior fight credit fraud. Early access to legal counsel also benefits our civil justice system by diverting minor disputes away from our overburdened courts and by allowing the legal aid safety net to focus its limited resources on more complex legal needs.
CARPLS has proven to be one of the most effective providers of limited scope legal services in the country, providing these services at a fraction of the cost of other legal aid organizations. Our success is due to our continued systematic technological upgrades, streamlining of costs, highly experienced staff, constant evaluation of services, collected client feedback, and serving as a hub for our partners to help people access needed legal services.
We are expanding our program to more low-income people in Chicago for free, while continuing to provide the best services quantitatively and qualitatively.

We can achieve our goal of legal access for all in need in Chicago because of our substantial investment in technology, our focus on brief legal services, and our ability to collaborate with other legal aid organizations, the courts and social services to make everyone more efficient.
The most innovative aspect of our program is our hybrid case management system, created by our team, which allows us to do quick but thorough client intake, make and receive referrals, provide immediate legal solutions and track our data for future studies that will equip us to help even more people down the road. This system puts our clients at the center.
We have over 40 legal aid providers in our partner network in Cook County, and over 20 partners for our IL-AFLAN hotline program for veterans, service members, and their families statewide. We send them referrals and vice versa, with CARPLS as the hub and frontline of brief services.

We are innovative because of our high level of efficiency. In 2016, The American Lawyer called CARPLS “the most effective program yet devised to provide access to legal services for the millions of Americans who can’t afford a lawyer.”
CARPLS provides a safe zone for people of all backgrounds to directly consult with our attorneys (many of whom are bilingual Spanish speakers), in a personalized way, to begin rebuilding their lives. They can also reach back out to us with additional questions as their cases move forward.
We differ from others in the market because: 1) we are able to serve a client on any type of legal issue. We excel at brief services, which means that anyone that calls us will get a free 30-minute consultation. Most legal aid organizations have niche services and cannot provide this service. 2) We have a robust referral system with next steps geared toward solutions, unmatched by our legal aid partners. We take ownership of our longevity and our leadership in legal aid, but we also understand that access to legal assistance for everyone is only possible through community partnerships. If a client’s legal problem cannot be solved by our services, (though in most cases it can), we will find a referral for them.
The last statewide legal needs study found that more than half of all low-income households in Illinois experienced at least one legal issue each year. This funding for our hotline program would go a long way towards helping clients in need.

Nearly 30 years ago, we started with just a few staff members and one client phone call. Last year, we provided over 63,000 legal consultations, the most in our history. Since 1993, we've provided almost one million to people in need. Our attorneys are able to cover 1,870 different legal topics. 85% of our cases are resolved in-house and 15% is referred to our partner network. 89% of our clients are satisfied with how their problems were resolved and 95% would recommend us to a friend. 85 cents of every dollar we raise goes directly back into client services.

We provide help to those in poverty and low and moderate income people. We also provide services to people up to 350% of the federal poverty line. We help families stay together, veterans, people with disabilities, diverse communities, people with and without education, and those who live in public housing. It does not matter where you are in Chicago, all it takes is one call.

Financials

CARPLS
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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CARPLS

Board of directors
as of 3/10/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Sean Gallagher

Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes