Legal Aid Bureau of Metropolitan Family Services Celebrates 125 Years

The Legal Aid Bureau of Metropolitan Family Services, which helped pioneer the movement for equal access to justice, is celebrating 125 years of helping victims of domestic violence, the poor, immigrants and the elderly with vital legal services. The organization will celebrate this historic milestone at its Annual Equal Access to Justice Awards Luncheon Thursday, Oct. 6, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., at the Palmer House in Chicago.

This year’s recipient of the William H. Avery Award for Equal Access to Justice is Judge Ann Claire Williams, United States Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Judge Williams, the first African-American to serve on this court, was a nominee for replacing retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. She has a long-standing commitment to expanding opportunities for women and minorities and has led or participated in numerous judicial delegations to foreign countries. The Award is named for William H. Avery, who served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of both the Legal Aid Society and of Metropolitan Family Services, and chair of the Legal Services Committee of the Chicago Bar Association.

As the second oldest agency of its kind in the nation, the Legal Aid Bureau became a model for legal assistance organizations that exist across the country to this day. With a rich and storied history that includes notable figures such as Clarence Darrow, Jane Addams, John G. Shedd, and others, the Legal Aid Bureau has been pivotal in Chicago’s legal reform history:

  • Created the first law school clinic program at the Northwestern School of Law with Jane Addams and United Charities (former name of Metropolitan Family Services)
  • Helped pass the first child protection laws in Illinois
  • Helped found the Chicago Municipal Court system
  • Established the Mandel Clinic at the University of ChicagoLaw School
  • Helped draft and pass the Illinois Domestic Violence Act

Last year, the Legal Aid Bureau aided more than 7,000 low-income clients in CookCounty. The staff of 21, along with 143 pro bono attorneys and interns, provided more than 6,000 hours of legal assistance.

The Legal Aid Bureau would like to extend a special thank you to all the generous sponsors of this year’s Awards Luncheon.

To purchase tickets for the luncheon or for additional information about the Legal Aid Bureau, please visit

About Metropolitan Family Services
Metropolitan Family Services is a human services agency with a passion for strengthening families by providing them with expert guidance and a broad array of problem-solving tools to help them overcome the challenges they face. With seven centers throughout Chicagoand the suburbs, Metropolitan is one of the area’s most established and experienced human-services providers. We are recognized as a collaborative partner in each of our communities and as a leader in our use of metrics to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our programs.