At CGLA, we mitigate the criminal records barrier by employing an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together teams of lawyers and social workers to comprehensively support client goals. CGLA leverages strategic partnerships across other social service sectors including workforce development and housing organizations to maximize our collective capacity to serve our mutual clients. Through our policy and advocacy efforts, we work to remove the systemic barriers that perpetuate the cycle of poverty by way of coalition- building, legislative support, and leadership development.
Collaboration. Innovation. Collective Impact.
How We Give Justice a Voice
Multidisciplinary Attorney Teams
Our Attorney Teams provide a variety of legal services including criminal records research, legal consultation, petition filing, and full representation through criminal records relief services, civil legal services, and criminal defense programs. Services are offered through our three Help Desks at the Daley Center, Markham Courthouse, and the Juvenile Courthouse in Chicago. We also bring our services directly to the community through our partner agency sites and our Community Summit Model, where we mobilize our criminal records relief services to counties across Illinois.
Social Work Team
At CGLA, we recognize a person's legal need is oftentimes intertwined with other social service needs. We measure client stability through five domains including legal standing, economic mobility, housing stability, social connectedness, and health. Our Client Supportive Services Team of social workers are there to holistically support clients above and beyond their presenting legal need, connecting individuals to resources and collaborating with partner agencies to meet a broader range of needs for our mutual clients.
Policy & Advocacy
Community Organizing Team
Ultimately, we recognize that systemic change is critical to bringing about longstanding, productive transformations to the criminal legal system. Our Policy & Advocacy Team of Advisors and Community Organizers directly impact the legislative process by leading and participating in reform-focused coalitions, drafting legislation, providing testimony at legislative hearings, conducting trainings on criminal records relief for system stakeholders and legislative staff, administering survey research, and advocating in support of key pieces of legislation.
Visible Voices & Leadership Council
Raising the Voice of Those Directly Impacted
At CGLA, our work is directly informed by those directly impacted by the criminal legal system. Our Visible Voice program is a peer empowerment advocacy group of formerly incarcerated women who meet monthly for support, information sharing, skill building, and policy analysis. The Leadership Council is an Advisory Group made up of former CGLA clients and community members directly impacted by the criminal legal system. They serve as CGLA ambassadors, present with staff in the community and in Springfield for legislative advocacy. Both groups also serve to provide CGLA program consultation to ensure all our work is implemented in a way that considers the unique needs of those who are or have been justice-involved.