At 7:45 a.m. on Saturday, March 17, seven DePaul law students arrived at Grace Episcopal Church (“Grace Place”) in Printer’s Row eager to volunteer. By 8:30 a.m. they were working directly with the homeless, and at 11:30 a.m. they conducted their last intake and reviewed their cases.
Photo, from left: Law students Brandon Clark, Jonathan Williams and Nick Gutierrez assist a client through NLAP.
The students are among the first to volunteer for the College of Law’s new Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project (NLAP). NLAP, a legal help desk staffed by law student volunteers, assists the poor and homeless with criminal record expungements and obtaining state IDs, which are common barriers when seeking housing, employment and public benefits. DePaul’s Pro Bono & Community Service Initiative (PBCSI) and Center for Public Interest Law, with the assistance of DePaul’s Loop University Ministry, created NLAP after learning of the critical need for legal services by Chicago’s downtown homeless population.
NLAP takes place during Temple United Methodist Church’s homeless breakfast program. Due to space constraints, Temple runs the program at Grace Place and serves a hot breakfast and bag lunch to 150 to 170 homeless every Saturday morning. Temple’s Homeless Ministry has been integral to the planning and launch of NLAP, and the church has graciously donated funds to the project.
Photo, from left: NLAP supervisor Damon Ritenhouse and law students Emily Mannix-Slobig and Goli Rahimi work together to assist a client.
Law students volunteer at the breakfast twice a month, and DePaul law alumnus Damon Ritenhouse (JD '11) supervises the students. Ritenhouse was chosen because of his dedication to service and the expungement experience he gained through volunteer work with Cabrini Green Legal Aid.
NLAP is currently raising funds to cover the costs of obtaining RAP sheets for its clients. To learn more about or to donate to NLAP, please contact PBCSI director Cheryl Price at email@example.com.