Q&A with Mike Pope

Mike Pope is a highly accomplished trial lawyer with 45 years of experience, specializing in complex jury trial cases nationwide. He is a member of prestigious professional societies, including The American College of Trial Lawyers, The International Academy of Trial Lawyers, and The International Society of Barristers. Beyond his legal career, Mike has been actively involved in pro bono work and community service. He served as the head of the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, overseeing grants of $20 million to legal aid providers, and founded CARPLS, which provides telephone referral assistance to legal providers in Cook County. Mike also established the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, which awards annual grants of state funds to legal providers across Illinois. In 2012, he received Northwestern University’s Alumni Merit Award for his significant contributions to the legal profession.

What was it like to start CARPLS?

Ruth Ann Schmitt was the real brains behind the operation. The idea started with a referral service. The legal clinics in Cook County were competing with each other, so the idea behind CARPLS was a combination of groups working together rather than competing. It was the first time it had been done. Ruth Ann asked me to put together a board of directors a year or two before CARPLS was officially created.

CARPLS was designed to allow a person with a problem to solve their problem with one call and lawyer. I was a little skeptical that lawyers would want to do that. I was thinking we would be the first stop on the way. It was very satisfying to know that we could actually solve problems in just one call. 

What do you see as a major highlight in CARPLS’ history? 

Once Leslie Corbett and Allen Schwartz came on board, they both demonstrated great leadership. They both brought strong leadership skills to the early growth of the organization.

Our growth has been amazing. That’s a testament to the efficiency. We are constantly taking on new specialty areas. 

What do you hope for CARPLS’ future?

Just keep doing a great job. Like any business, you can’t rest on your laurels. You have to meet the needs of the community. 

There are just not enough lawyers available to donate their time. They don’t know that CARPLS is out there. The number of need continues to exceed the supply.

I was and am very proud to be part of CARPLS at the very beginning.