Illinois Judges Association

Pro Bono - November 2022

     This month’s spotlight is Judge Lisa Wilson, Associate Judge of the 10th Judicial Circuit who has a career pro bono support resume. Judge Wilson has been a judge since 2009 and is currently assigned to one of the Domestic Relations Courts in Peoria County. However, before she became a member of the judiciary, she had already amassed a pro bono legacy.

     Upon graduation from law school, she worked as a staff attorney at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation in Springfield. She then moved on to Prairie State Legal Services in Peoria becoming that office’s managing attorney in 1999. Judge Wilson trained and supervised other legal assistance attorneys and coordinated Prairie State’s pro bono initiatives especially her efforts in recruiting and assisting private attorneys to take on pro bono cases.   Her entire legal career was devoted to providing free legal advocacy for low income and senior clients in civil matters.

     Judge Wilson’s court assignments have been mostly in courtrooms where pro bono litigants are most prevalent such as domestic relations, orders of protection, and traffic courts. As a judge she has been highly supportive of pro bono services. She has been the chair of  10th Judicial Circuit’s Pro Bono Committee supported by the Public Interest Law Initiative since its formation in 2012.

     Judge Wilson notes that “Attorneys have an ethical and professional obligation in providing pro bono services.” She relates that there is an ever-growing number of pro se litigants in civil courts; she estimates to be at least 25 % of the cases in her domestic relations court: “The most positive effect of promoting and having pro bono services is having a trained attorney navigate the legal system for the client.” This obviously assists the court and solidifies the litigant’s trust and understanding of their case’s outcome. A sitting judge can promote pro bono by supporting the various legal service initiatives: courthouse help desks, CLE incentives, serving on committees, etc.

     Judge Wilson serves on many Peoria County Bar Association committees, is involved as a faculty member with the Illinois Judges Conference Continuing legal education programs, and the  Illinois Judicial College as its Vice-Chair, and is currently the Board of Trustees Liaison for the Committee on Judicial Education. She has served on many non-profit boards and has received many awards relating to pro bono legal services.

     Judge Wilson’s lifetime work and support of pro bono services is whole-heartedly recognized by the  Illinois Judges Association and appreciated by the countless clients she has served and litigants who appear in her court.