YLS Volunteer Programs

The Young Lawyers Section coordinates several volunteer programs for lawyers to give back to the Chicago community and gain pro bono experience.  These programs are designed to provide the public greater access to legal services, law-related information and volunteers from the legal community.

Current Programs

Dear Santa Letter Campaign
Each winter, the YLS distributes letters from Chicago Public School students who have written to Santa requesting holiday gifts.  Volunteers then purchase a requested gift and send it to the child, with a note from Santa.

CBA Law & Debate Club
The CBA Law & Debate Club Committee sponsors lectures and activities for young men and women between the ages of 14 and 20 who are interested in careers in law and government.  Volunteer attorneys meet with students from Chicago area high schools every other Wednesday evening and participate in role plays concerning legal and ethical questions. 

Law Week
Each year the YLS holds a week of activities designed to get information out to the public on legal services and legal matters. Activities include public celebration at the Daley Center, a Judge's Reception for young lawyers to mingle with members of the bench, and other programs related to the ABA's Law Day theme. During Law Week, the YLS also honors a non-lawyer whose exemplary community service has advanced the ideals of law and justice with the presentation of The Liberty Bell Award.

Pro Bono & Community Service Fair
The YLS hosts a volunteer fair during pro bono week in October to highlight all the YLS' and the Chicago Bar Foundation's partner pro bono and community service organizations.  The Fair gives attendees and opportunity to speak with participating organizations, and sign up if interested in volunteering for the project.  The goal of this event is to engage more members of the legal community in pro bono and other public service activities. Register here for this year's fair, on October 29 from 4-5:30pm.

Racial Justice Coalition (RJC)
The Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Section unequivocally stands against racial discrimination and police brutality. We also reaffirm our commitment to serving as a voice and as an instrument of change in our communities and beyond. In solidarity with everyone who has felt--and continues to feel--the frustrations of ongoing systemic and institutional racism, the CBA YLS Racial Justice Coalition was established during the 2020-2021 bar year.

Serving Our Seniors
The program designed to assist young lawyers in providing low-income seniors with legal advice regarding the creation of basic estate plans, including powers of attorney for healthcare and property, living wills, and simple wills. Estate planning experience is not needed.

Wills for Heroes
The Wills for Heroes Committee oversees community workshops at which volunteer lawyers create free wills, living wills, and other estate planning documents for local emergency first responders and their spouses or partners. Since November 2001, the Wills for Heroes program has prepared over 6,000 estate-planning documents for first responders. YLS volunteers will be trained on will writing and will go out to various fire stations to help local firefighters prepare a will.

Questions and New Program Ideas

The YLS is continually seeking new ways to engage with the community and provide young lawyers with volunteer opportunities. If you have questions regarding the above programs, or are interested in proposing a new YLS program or community partnership, contact 312-554-2031 or yls@chicagobar.org