Kellye L. Fabian
Photo by Natalie Battaglia.
About four years ago, Kellye L. Fabian and Michael D. Freeborn began talking about how they could use their legal skills to help Willow Creek Community Church. The fellow church members decided to start with clients of the Willow Creek Care Center, one of the largest food pantries in the Chicago area.
"There is a lot of need there, a lot of people who are underserved and under-resourced," said Fabian, a partner at Freeborn & Peters who primarily handles business litigation. "So just one Tuesday, we decided to show up and put up a handwritten sign that said ‘free legal services today.’"
Fabian said between 10 a.m. and noon that first day, they helped about six people who came to the food pantry. Within a few months, they started seeing as many as 25 people each week, counseling them on such issues as foreclosure and divorce. When not able to address their legal problems, they referred them to other pro bono providers.
Over the years, their Willow Creek Legal Aid Ministry formed a partnership with CARPLS and recruited a team of volunteer lawyers, translators and administrators. They also added a Tuesday evening shift, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and created a private space for their clients.
Fabian said she feels called to help those people who need someone to walk them through the most difficult times in their lives.
"I’ve always been interested in wanting to serve the poor," Fabian said. "After over three years of leading and operating the legal aid ministry, what I’ve come to realize is that the clients who see us are coming with their biggest vulnerability or mistake or worst judgment call. They are saying, ‘Here, I don’t know what to do with this, can you fix this?’ I tell my team that we better be very careful and very grace-giving in the way we address them."
Since opening in April 2009, the Willow Creek Legal Aid Ministry has helped nearly 1,000 clients a year. Next June, Fabian said they plan to move into the church’s new care center, where they will have eight to 10 private offices.
"Our church has a lot of resources to offer those who are struggling … there is food, education, employment, housing," she said. "As anyone who works in this area of law knows, the people who come to see us often have a wide variety of issues that stem from poverty. We are addressing the whole person, and it’s amazing to see that."
In the pub. In March, Brasserie by LM, 800 S. Michigan Ave., took over the former Tribute space in the South Loop. The modern, but casual, French bar and restaurant offers les plats like Brick Chicken, with fingerling potatoes, caramelized onions, spinach and jus, and les croquet like Croque Salmon, with herbs, béchamel and Dijon mustard. The menu also features a three-course prix fixe meal and a bottomless mimosa brunch. Guests can sit inside or on the 70-person patio along Michigan Avenue. Visit brasseriebylm.com for more details.
In the West Loop. Vietnamese sisters, Mary Nguyen Aregoni and Theresa Nguyen, and their mother, Mama Suu, opened Saigon Sisters, 567 W. Lake St., in October. Their new standalone restaurant, which originated as a booth at the nearby Chicago French Market in 2009, offers fast, casual lunch fare like banh mi sandwiches and rice bowls and contemporary dinners like Cao Lau, with fresh egg noodles, braised pork cheeks, kamaboko, Chinese broccoli, pork rinds and house sambal, and Baby Octopus, with grilled confit octopus, cuttlefish ink rice and togarashi. Visit saigonsisters.com for more information.
In the eatery. When asked what makes BadHappy Poutine, 939 N. Orleans St., unique, chef/owner Tom Kern said as Chicago’s first poutine shop, it fills a void in the city’s food scene. He also said his creations, or “fine dining on fries,” appeal to foodie lawyers (his wife is a lawyer, so all lawyers get a 10 percent discount). They can choose from options like the T-Rex, with hot dog sauce, steak hache, sausage, bacon, onions, frites and curds, for dinner, or Chicken & Waffles, with vanilla crème fraiche and maple-tabasco glaze, during the bring-your-own-vodka Sunday brunch. Visit badhappypoutineshop.com for the full menu. Photo provided by Mitali R. Vyas.
Chicago Lawyer started this page to highlight restaurants, plays, golf courses, stores, etc., that lawyers enjoy. We also plan to profile each month interesting pro bono cases. If you have any suggestions please let us know by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.