The goal of discussion groups 

The goal of the discussion groups is to connect legal services professionals throughout Illinois, working on similar issues, to help each other in better advocating for their clients.

How the discussion groups work 

The discussion groups are open to people working at a legal services organization in Illinois. Further, some discussion groups are also open to licensed Illinois attorneys who do not represent individuals or organizations traditionally adverse to legal aid clients and who are referred by an existing legal aid member. Individuals outside of these categories, including those seeking legal advice, will not be permitted to join.

People are free to join one, a couple, or all the discussion groups.

Anyone subscribed to the discussion groups can post questions, updates to the law, articles, organize statewide meetings/phone calls, etc. To respond to an existing discussion or thread, simply “reply” to the email you receive. To start your own discussion or thread, email the group at:  

How to join a discussion group

If you have a Google account: Click on the name of the discussion group under the "Facilitators for the discussion groups," while signed in. You'll see an Ask to Join button. Complete the form and our content team will be notified to approve the request.

If you do not have a Google account:

  1. Use the Contact Form to open a ticket.
  2. Select "I need help with my account".
  3. Enter your name and legal aid organization email.
  4. List the discussion groups you want to join in the Message field.

Facilitators for the discussion groups

Each discussion group is led by one or two facilitators with help from Illinois Legal Aid Online staff. The facilitators are:

Foreclosure discussion group

Ainat Margalit 
Director, Consumer Practice Group | Legal Aid Chicago
[email protected]

Housing discussion group

Conor Malloy
Rentervention Project Director | Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing
[email protected]

Pro bono discussion group

Kimberly Washington
Director of Volunteer Services | Ascend Justice
[email protected]

Public benefits discussion group

Sue Simone
Director of Litigation and Advocacy | Land of Lincoln Legal Aid
[email protected]

Ready-to-work discussion group

Cynthia Cornelius
Director of Programs | Cabrini Green Legal Aid
[email protected]

Michelle Weinberg (credit repair and identity theft)
Supervisory Attorney, Consumer Practice Group | Legal Aid Chicago
[email protected]

New Leaf IL discussion group

Brandon Williams
Criminal Records Supervising Attorney | Cabrini Green Legal Aid

Unemployment insurance discussion group

Linda Rothnagel (Retired)
Former Director of Advocacy Training | Prairie State Legal Services, Inc. 

Family & Safety discussion group 

Lindsay Nathan
Director, Family Law Program | Ascend Justice
[email protected]

Discussion Group Membership Eligibility

Currently, membership in each discussion group is limited to Illinois legal aid staff (which includes non-prosecutor court and AOIC staff) and fully retired legal aid staff. This restriction has been in place for many years as a way for legal aid staff to candidly discuss problems and strategies without concern that opposing counsel is potentially viewing these discussions. 

However, we recognize that in some situations it may be beneficial for a group to include non-legal aid staff who can share their expertise and perspective and who do not represent individuals or entities traditionally adverse to our legal aid clients. Therefore, each discussion group facilitator and ILAO staff facilitator may now decide whether to open the group to non-legal aid staff who are licensed Illinois attorneys. The facilitators can also opt to poll the current group for their opinion.

Should the facilitators decide to open the membership to non-legal aid staff, such candidates can be added to the discussion group via specific request of an existing legal aid member. The legal aid member should send an email to the facilitator and ILAO staff facilitator with the name and email address of the candidate as well as a statement that the candidate does not represent individuals or entities traditionally adverse to legal aid clients. Both the candidate and legal aid referrer must immediately notify the facilitator and ILAO staff facilitator should the candidate’s employment situation change as to now be ineligible for membership in the discussion group. 

If any questions or concerns arise regarding the membership of a specific individual, the facilitator and ILAO staff facilitator will confer and make a final decision.

Discussion Group Membership Rules

By your participation in this Illinois Legal Aid Online discussion group, you must agree to the following:

  1. All communications made in the discussion group should be treated as confidential and, to the extent legally permissible, may not be disclosed to anyone other than a member of the group, unless both the fact and content of the communication are clearly not meant to be confidential. All doubts must be resolved in favor of confidentiality. Members should be aware, however, that confidentiality cannot be assured.
  2. Members agree to be respectful and not include offensive or inflammatory messages or language. The discussion group facilitators and ILAO facilitators reserve the right to delete posts in violation of this policy.
  3. By joining the discussion group, you represent that you meet the conditions for membership. You agree to notify the facilitator and  ILAO facilitator immediately if any change results in you no longer meeting those conditions. You agree to abide by the rules of the group.