GOLD2023

Illinois Legal Aid Online

Opening opportunities for justice for people without lawyers.

aka ILAO   |   Chicago, IL   |  www.illinoislegalaid.org

Mission

At Illinois Legal Aid Online, our vision is a just society where all people have equitable access to opportunities. Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) opens opportunities for justice by educating Illinoisans about their rights and connecting them to lawyers, solutions, and each other. We believe that, with the right knowledge and guidance, people can be their own best advocates. We mobilize people with plain-language, 24/7 tools - in three languages - so families can understand and assert their legal rights. ILAO helps people, who are unable to find or afford attorneys, open opportunities for justice and improve their lives.

Ruling year info

2006

Principal Officer

Teresa Ross

Main address

120 S La Salle St Suite 900

Chicago, IL 60603 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

20-2917133

NTEE code info

Legal Services (I80)

Public Interest Law/Litigation (I83)

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Every day, every hour, people experience problems and crises, such as domestic abuse, medical care, substandard housing, unpaid wages, disability, eviction and loss of income - all of which can be resolved using the law. While life can be unfair, Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) makes it more just. We believe the law belongs to everyone, not just those who can afford a lawyer. We simplify the law into understandable terms, practical options, and actionable steps, so people can seek justice and resolve their problems. Many people are without a safety net to rely on in times of family crisis, housing emergency, job loss, illness or disability. By providing free, 24/7, user-friendly resources, ILAO gives hope and reassurance to the millions of people who use its self-help tools each year.

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?

Get Legal Help

Get Legal Help is a tool that gives people the best available resources for their legal problem. Get Legal Help offers those in need with a way to connect to tailored legal information and local help. The Get Legal Help tool directs people to free legal forms, self-help guides, or a lawyer (or any combination of the three). When a person enters their ZIP code, legal issue, and household income, the tool queries ILAO’s database of legal services to match a user with the best available, local, legal resources.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Family relationships
Ex-offenders
Immigrants and migrants
Victims of crime and abuse

Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) believes the law is for everyone. ILAO believes that many people, empowered with the right tools and guidance, can learn and act on their legal rights, be their own best advocates, and get the justice they seek. Through our website - IllinoisLegalAid.org - we provide free, 24/7, plain-language, empowerment tools so that people can seek justice.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Ex-offenders
Immigrants and migrants
Family relationships
Victims of crime and abuse

ILAO's Community Navigators program trains community leaders to educate their peers and neighbors about their legal rights, especially related to mitigating the devastating consequences of incarceration and immigration policies.
Community Navigators are also found in Illinois' Legal Self-Help Centers, where people learn about the law, their legal rights, and how to go to court. ILAO supports in-person and online legal self-help centers in 182 locations at Illinois courthouses and public libraries. Courthouse and library staff act as navigators to help the public find the legal help they seek. In addition,

Population(s) Served
Incarcerated people
Immigrants and migrants
Economically disadvantaged people
Family relationships

ILAO's LiveHelp program provides a real-time, click-to-chat service that uses remote volunteers to help IllinoisLegalAid.org visitors find the information they seek. Using instant messaging, LiveHelp agents help people find the best tools so that they can understand their legal options and exercise their rights.

Population(s) Served
Economically disadvantaged people
Family relationships
Adults
Victims of crime and abuse
Ex-offenders

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 websites and organizations (outside of our organization) that share our resources and information

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

ILAO has learned that designing great tools is not enough; they must be effectively promoted to target audiences through effective outreach and strategic partnerships.

Number of unique website visitors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Through its website at IllinoisLegalAid.org, Illinois Legal Aid Online provides just-in-time, free practical tools to people who need them, 24/7/365.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Economically disadvantaged people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

ILAO is a small organization with a BIG impact. Our 16 staff members are supported by hundreds of dedicated volunteers who provide free legal help to over 3 million people a year!

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

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.

At Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO), we believe in the transformative effect of simple, actionable information paired with well-designed technology. Our outcomes are ambitious and our benefits are impactful.

Because of Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO), people with Illinois legal problems:
- know and act on their legal rights
- navigate the legal system with confidence and don't feel alone
- are able to overcome barriers and improve their lives
- understand that dealing with small problems today will prevent big legal problems tomorrow.

Illinois Legal Aid Online's objective is to help people with Illinois civil legal problems to: 1) better understand their legal rights and responsibilities and the options available to resolve their problems; and, 2) leverage ILAO’s free legal tools to take action on those rights and responsibilities.

We will achieve this objective by: diligent tracking of pertinent Illinois laws that affect lower-income families and individuals; regular review and updating of our free legal tools so that they are accurate; making ongoing technology improvements to grow trust in our resources; and, conduct strategic marketing activities to increase awareness of our free, 24/7 tools.

ILAO will keep abreast of law changes and how they affect the information and tools offered on IllinoisLegalAid.org. In each of the last two calendar years (2020 and 2021), over 300 Illinois laws were added or changed. We know that our users rely on ILAO as a trusted source of information; we secure this trust by tracking legislative updates and updating our information to be accurate.

To enhance the availability of civil legal aid to those of limited means, ILAO will improve and expand the ways in which people are directed to the best available resource for their legal issue and circumstances. Known as ‘Get Legal Help’, ILAO’s triage, referral and intake tool just underwent a comprehensive evaluation. ILAO will implement recommended improvements over the coming year, to enhance the experience of legal aid programs and the clients who access them via Get Legal Help.

Finally, we have learned that building great tools is not enough; they must be effectively promoted to potential users. As a part of each new service or product we launch or release, we design and execute marketing activities to raise awareness of our free tools available to Illinois’ families and individuals.

For 20+ years, ILAO has delivered free resources and services to lower-income and vulnerable Illinoisans who face legal problems, both online through its website at IllinoisLegalAid.org and via social media and other digital channels, and in-person through partnerships with Illinois’ public libraries, legal aid programs, by providing just-in-time, free practical tools to people who need them, 24/7/365.

Illinois Legal Aid Online's (ILAO's) staff is a team of leaders, with a wide variety of expertise - from content strategy, software development, user experience, community engagement, and project management. None of our staff are experts in specific legal areas - rather, we are skilled at working with subject matter experts to distill information into actionable tools. As such, our partnerships are critical to our success at providing accurate, practical information.

ILAO has strong partnerships with 30+ legal aid organizations in Illinois. We also cultivate partnerships with public libraries across the state, local courts, law schools, law firms, private attorneys, social services and other community institutions.

We constantly monitor, evaluate and adjust our products and services with the ultimate goal of making justice real. Daily, we sustain our existing tools to be relevant and accurate, and iterate improvements to them, based on testing. We leverage both the latest technology innovation, to be a reliable source of help, and boots-on-the-ground activities, to forge awareness and strategic partnerships. Using its collective expertise, our team executes those tasks each day, connecting people to solutions, 24/7/365.

For over 20 years, ILAO has served an essential role in developing and delivering reliable and easy-to-understand legal tools—including forms, videos, and guides—for the Illinois public and those who serve them. In the last few years, ILAO has achieved several major accomplishments:
- In August of 2016, we launched an entirely new version of IllinoisLegalAid.org. The new site was the culmination of 2+ years of planning, design, development, testing and evaluation. It combined ILAO’s previous 4 sites into a single website, streamlined and synthesized its content offerings by 40%, and made the site mobile responsive and open source. Since its launch, the site has helped nearly 4 million people find help for their legal needs.
- In February of 2017, ILAO launched the Spanish-language version of its new site. Since then, ILAO has provided over 200,000 people with free, Spanish-language legal resources.
- In July of 2017, ILAO published the victims of crime portal. The portal was the pinnacle of 3 years of planning and partnership with the victims legal assistance network of Cook County and was recognized as ‘Best in Show’ at the Chicago Legal Tech Innovator Showcase in 2017.
- In June of 2018, ILAO completed its first strategic planning process in 5 years. In addition to a new strategic plan, we created a core purpose statement - We simplify the law so that all people can resolve their problems. See our vision, values and goals for the next 3-5 years.
- In June of 2019, ILAO expanded its free legal library into Polish, the 3rd most spoken language in Illinois
- In June of 2020, ILAO launched a new and improved platform for IllinoisLegalAid.org. As a result, our website is more mobile friendly and more accessible to LEP (limited English proficient) populations, as well as being more secure.
- In March of 2021, ILAO integrated AI into our Get Legal Help tool to better help people identify their issues so that we can direct them to the best available help.
- In June of 2021, ILAO launched an SMS service to enable people to apply for housing help via text message.

What's next? Our small team has big plans for improving outcomes for people with civil legal problems in Illinois. In coming 2 years we will:
- co-design solutions directly with the people we aim to help
- cultivate new relationships with community partners throughout Illinois to better reach and serve people for whom the legal system was not designed
- offer more personalized experiences to our users through smart segmentation, SMS notifications and more so that people can better understand and act on their legal rights

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time

Financials

Illinois Legal Aid Online
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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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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Illinois Legal Aid Online

Board of directors
as of 01/20/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

David Hambourger

Chapman & Cutler LLP

Term: 2021 - 2023

Sean Kruskol

Cornerstone Research

David Hambourger

Chapman and Cutler

Greg Leighton

Polsinelli

Renee McMahon

Charles River Associates, Inc.

Sandy Morris

Valentine Austriaco & Bueschel p.c

Heather Russell

Transunion

Matthew Wirig

Chapman and Cutler

Kristina Hendricks

Jones Day

Chris Petrini-Poli

HBR Consulting

Catherine Herrmann

Prairie State Legal Services (retired)

Bruce Lithgow

Independent Consultant

Jennifer Woods

Kraft Heinz

Karim Basaria

Sidley Austin

Amos Budde

Fishtown Analytics

Anand Mathew

Palmersheim & Mathew LLP

Timothy Smith

CME Group

Barry Solomon

Litera

Elizabeth Khalil

CIBC

Kenneth Kennings

Gridiron Alliance

David Ellis

LinkedIn

Craig Boston

Boston Law

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

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/24/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/24/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.