ILAO champions the courage of self-advocacy, especially in those who have been historically shut out of the legal system. The legal system was not designed for single moms, people transitioning, or those living with disabilities. Each day, people are faced with trying to navigate a legal system that was not designed for them. Some give up. 

Others persist - like Nicole and Tobias, who leveraged ILAO’s help to advocate for themselves. When they found ILAO, they began to realize their own potential as their best and strongest advocates. 

Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) serves everyday heroes. The people we help inspire and motivate us. These are self-advocates like Courtney, who returned to ILAO again and again as she navigated through a divorce and post-judgment issues.

ILAO believes that many people - given the right guidance and tools - can be their own best advocates. ILAO equips Illinoisans with the tools they need to understand and enforce their legal rights. These are honest workers and caring parents, like Courtney. Courtney said, "ILAO became my bible for legal help... I learned I had legal rights, and I learned it from ILAO."

The people we help come from a variety of lived experiences. Some come to us wounded by an unfair legal system, others diminished by a society that rewards privilege above diversity. Those we serve come to us unsure of their potential, many in the dark of night via their mobile phones. By distilling complicated laws into simple, plain-language direction in three languages, ILAO equips vulnerable Illinoisans with the tools they need to improve their lives. 

These are people like Ginna and Oscar, who - with ILAO’s help - had the courage to advocate first for themselves, then for others in their community; see their video or read their testimonial.

In the current crisis, ILAO is here to help

ILAO designs tools to help people who face inequities understand their rights and take action, in English, Spanish and Polish.

In 2021, ILAO helped:

  • Over 167,000 Illinoisans with unemployment-related issues
  • Nearly 133,000 Illinoisans with eviction
  • Nearly 90 people per weekday via the LiveHelp chat service
  • More than 67,000 Spanish-speakers in Illinois

Because of its innovative delivery model, ILAO is there for people when traditional legal services are closed. 

masked woman on bus with mobile
ILAO is a light in the night

More than half of those we help find ILAO on nights or weekends, when traditional offices are closed. Of these, nearly 85% come to ILAO via a mobile device. Legal problems don't wait for phone lines to open. For sleepless parents, anxious homeowners, and troubled consumers, ILAO is a light in the night for those with nowhere else to turn. 

man looking at mobile at night