Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride '81 spoke to lawyers and judges at the McHenry County Bar Association and Prairie State Legal Services annual luncheon, which honors lawyers and law firms who represent indigent clients on a pro bono basis.
Kilbride’s keynote speech discussed the state’s 11-member Access to Justice Commission, of which McHenry County Chief Judge Michael Sullivan is a member. The project is designed to ease entry to the court system by those people who cannot afford an attorney and cannot qualify for legal aid.
"Our adversarial system works the best with competent lawyers on both sides,” Kilbride said. "That’s really true, and that comes home and is especially true with the number of people who are in need of lawyers.”
In Illinois, one in three people live at or below the federal poverty level, Kilbride said, leaving the market wide open to assist those in need.
"I know how hard the market is for lawyers these days, for solos and small law firms, and by no means are we trying to take business away from lawyers,” Kilbride said. "This is for the folks who don’t ... have enough money. Those are the folks we’re talking about.”