Articles relating to building of Land of Lincoln Center on North First Street

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Articles relating to building of Land of Lincoln Center on North First Street


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Legal assistance foundation to dedicate new home on Friday

Mon, 04/07/2008 - 7:01am | The News-Gazette
CHAMPAIGN – The Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation will dedicate its new building in north Champaign on Friday.

The 5,300-square-foot office at 302 N. First St. will be open to the public from 3 to 6 p.m. The open house is intended to thank those who contributed to a $775,00 capital campaign that made the building possible.

Dedication speakers will be Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman of Danville and Abner Mikva, senior director of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School. Mikva was also a five-term congressman from Illinois and a former federal appeals court judge.

Tours begin at 3 p.m. followed by a brief program at 4:30 p.m.

Land of Lincoln is a public-interest law firm dedicated to helping the poor and elderly with free services in civil cases such as consumer, housing, family, health and disability disputes.

Champaign is the regional office for 14 counties in central Illinois. There are four other regional offices that together with the Champaign office serve clients in the 65 southern counties of Illinois.

Land of Lincoln has raised $550,000 of its $775,000 goal. As part of the redevelopment plan for North First Street, the city of Champaign donated the land and awarded a $200,000 matching grant. Other major contributors were Carle Foundation Hospital, the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, and the Champaign law firm of Meyer Capel.

In a release about the open house, managing attorney Valerie McWilliams said the new building is about 50 percent larger than the former space the firm rented on South Neil Street.

It has office space for eight attorneys, two VISTA volunteers, eight law students, and administrative staff. It also has a conference room, storage area and training room.

The office has been in use by the staff since July.

For information, contact McWilliams at 217-356-1351 or vmcwilliams@lollaf.org.


At new site, facility has 'room to grow'

Sat, 08/18/2007 - 8:28am | Julie Wurth
The site of the infamous "chicken-neck murder" is now a center for people who need affordable legal help.

The Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation moved this month to a new location at 302 N. First St., C, much closer to many of the clients it serves.

A new $50,000 gift from Carle Foundation Hospital also put the agency closer to its goal of raising $750,000 to pay off the mortgage for the project.

Though the regional office covers 14 counties, Land of Lincoln lawyers are pleased to be part of the north Champaign neighborhood. The new office is in a low-income census tract at the corner of First and Church streets, two blocks north of the Champaign police station and close to public transportation downtown.

"It's very convenient for me now," said Odessa Profit, 53, of 302 E. Park St., who has worked with the agency to get disability benefits. "It's just a couple of blocks away. It's a nice location."

The site has "important symbolism," said Valerie McWilliams, managing attorney for the office.

"The location is fabulous for us. We want to have a neighborhood presence, a community presence," she said.

It also has a colorful legal history. In 1968, attorney John Phipps was hired as a special prosecutor for a murder that took place in one of two houses that occupied the property. A man gave a friend $1 to buy some neck bones for supper, Phipps said, but he spent the money on wine instead and came back drunk. The two argued and the drunk rushed the first man, who shot him. He stumbled out the door to a nearby barber shop, where he died. The other man, who was much smaller and legally blind, was acquitted.

Phipps, a longtime Land of Lincoln board member, called the new building a "great facility" that will enhance productivity.

The old office at Illini Plaza, 1817 S. Neil St., C, was about two-thirds the size of the 5,000-square-foot red brick and limestone building.

There's an expansive training room, complete with a projector, that can host classes on credit repair, predatory lending or free tax help. A roomy storage area spreads across the back of the building. There's more space for the seven attorneys, eight to 10 law students, two VISTA volunteers and administrative staff, and even an empty office. A wireless network allows them to work anywhere from their laptops.

"We actually have room to grow," McWilliams said.

Land of Lincoln has raised $475,000 for its "Building for the Future" campaign – $75,000 from the Lawyers Trust Fund, $200,000 from the city and $200,000 in other commitments, including Carle's, McWilliams said.

Carle Foundation Hospital has worked closely with Land of Lincoln on its Law and Health Project, which helps people secure Medicaid and disability benefits. A joint Medical Debt Task Force also improved the hospital's Community Care program, which provides discounts or free care to income-eligible patients, she said.

"Land of Lincoln does an excellent job in assisting people who don't have access to counsel," said Dr. James Leonard, chief executive of Carle Foundation Hospital. "We felt that anything we could do to help them move along in their strategic plan and their mission made a lot of sense."

Half of Carle's $50,000 gift will be used as matching funds to encourage gifts from other donors, including Carle Clinic, Christie Clinic and Provena.

"This is a way to pull some of the other medical providers in," Leonard said.

"Our clients are not just a few people who get into trouble," McWilliams said, noting that divorces, child support and other family law issues make up half of the caseload. "Their problems are similar to other people's, they just happen to have low incomes."



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"Articles relating to building of Land of Lincoln Center on North First Street," in eBlack Champaign-Urbana, Item #191, http://www.eblackcu.net/portal/items/show/191 (accessed October 1, 2020).

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