Dolores‘ name might sound familiar because she was a staff attorney at CARPLS in the late 90s!
Dolores has had her own successful practice in Evanston since then, focused mainly on criminal law for the past 25 years.
Why did you choose to first work at CARPLS and why did you return?
Prior to working at CARPLS, my first job as an attorney was working at a three attorney firm where the majority of our clients were Spanish speaking. This first position, as an attorney, taught me to work under a lot of pressure. I had to learn fast, and it was very stressful, but the clients made it worthwhile.
I left the firm thinking that I wanted to work on my own and create my own holistic type of practice. By holistic I mean, to not only be able to take care of their legal cases but also be a source for other needs or questions my clients may have besides their pending legal case.
I can’t remember the first time I heard of CARPLS. I remember thinking that it sounded like a good place to work and learn. I only worked at CARPLS for 14 months, but I learned so much. At CARPLS’ first training, I remember hearing that attorneys would be trained to answer questions from adoption to zoning. This statement turned out to be TRUE! I loved the idea of being able to answer questions for clients who may be at a dire moment in their lives. CARPLS was my transition to my own practice. The attorneys who I worked with at CARPLS reflected the way I felt about the law. They were compassionate, caring and the most knowledgeable people I have ever met. We all worked together to improve our service to the clients.
I always had it in the back of my mind that if I ever closed my practice, the only place I would consider working at was CARPLS. I always remembered CARPLS as a place where you can have the most direct contact with clients and where you can have the most positive impact for clients with their immediate legal needs.
What changes and similarities have you seen in the time you were away from CARPLS? How has the legal aid landscape changed in your opinion? What challenges remain?
CARPLS has made huge strides in their use of technology since I left in 1998. CARPLS is way ahead of the legal profession regarding technology and how it uses this technology to streamline legal resources to better help clients. CARPLS’ technology is mind blowing. It wasn’t that long ago that Cook County Courts were still using carbon paper! The similarities are the collegiality, compassion and care in the attorneys and staff of CARPLS. You get the sense that the most important thing is that we all do our best to help our clients.
I only worked in the private sector after CARPLS, so I’m not sure how the legal aid landscape has changed. The challenges that remain, I believe, will always be with the limited and continued shrinking access to legal aid for clients that need it the most.
What do you love about legal aid work?
My experience with legal aid is with CARPLS and I love the service, access and care we provide to our clients.
Do you have a specific issue area that interests you? Why?
My interest has always been working with the Latino community. That is why I became a lawyer. I love using both Spanish and English to do my legal work in the community.
What are your major first year goals for your work at CARPLS?
Mastering both CARPLS technology and my knowledge base to better serve the clients.
What do you do in your free time?
I exercise, spend time with my 7-year-old grandson, read and cook.
What is your favorite genre of music?
I love Salsa. I’m a big fan of Zumba. Maybe sometime CARPLS can have a Zumba class as part of a social gathering.
How would you describe Chicago to someone who has never visited?
Be prepared to become a foodie. Chicago is a gastronomical city. After enjoying the food, you can walk off the calories by enjoying our wonderful varied architecture and lake Michigan.