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About Us

Mission Statement

The mission of Catholic Charities Legal Assistance (known as “CCLA”) is to provide access to compassionate and competent legal assistance to the economically disadvantaged in the Chicago area without regard to religious affiliation.


Mission Fulfillment

CCLA endeavors to fulfill its mission by providing various legal services to clients who live on a low income and cannot afford an attorney. As a part of Catholic Charities, CCLA is able to refer clients for assistance to other Catholic Charities social services programs and to provide legal assistance to existing clients of Catholic Charities.

 

Staff

Hilda Bahena, Catholic Charities Legal Assistance Department Director (LADD).   As the Department Director, Hilda is responsible for the day to day operations of the department, comprised of the Legal Services Program and the Volunteer and Pro Bono Program. The LADD ensures the delivery of legal advice, direct representation and referral services to the department’s clients on a wide range of legal issues.  In addition, Hilda is responsible for strategic planning, including providing leadership and direction in establishing both short and long term goals that are consistent with those of the legal aid community and Catholic Charities.   

Hilda joined CCLA after first working as a legal aid attorney in the states of California and Illinois for more than twelve years.  Hilda’s public interest experience spans a wide range of subject areas, including landlord/tenant, consumer, and immigration law.  She has developed a specific expertise in family law and legal issues related to domestic violence survivors and immigrant communities.  In addition, throughout her career, Hilda has developed trainings, forged collaboration among service providers, conducted extensive community outreach, and created programs to expand services.  Hilda is bilingual in Spanish.

Hilda received her Bachelors of Science from the University of Illinois College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Illinois College of Law. 

Dennis Trainor, Senior Attorney.  As a Legal Service Program Senior Attorney, Dennis provides a wide range of legal services, including advice, brief legal services and representation to the Department’s clients.  The Senior Attorney also supports the Department’s attorneys, volunteer and staff, by providing leadership including, co-counseling, training, and guidance.  Dennis provides services in variety areas of law including housing, family, and consumer law.  

Dennis joined CCLA in 2011, having both legal aid and private sector experience. While working in legal aid, Dennis expanded the Poverty Law Project to include Southwestern Cook County, created and implemented a legal aid advice desk at the Sixth Municipal District Court of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and provided services under the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program in suburban Cook County.  While in private practice, Dennis concentrated on complex litigation in commercial and consumer matters with an emphasis on real estate and mortgages.

Dennis is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University and the University of Miami School of Law. 

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