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Special Recognition Award

The Community Economic Development Law Project (CEDLP) performs the essential function of linking individuals and organizations in neighborhoods throughout Chicago to legal assistance that is utterly necessary but often out of reach to those trying to revitalize their neighborhoods.

Founded by the Chicago Lawyer’s Committee, the Legal Assistance Foundation and the Young Lawyers Section of the Chicago Bar Association in 1985, CEDLP recognizes that initiatives pursued by low-income communities require the same legal expertise, including tax, corporate, real estate and finance counsel, as any other development enterprise. But the cost of these services can be prohibitive to non-profit organizations serving low-income communities.

Thus, CEDLP has helped thousands of community organizations and hundreds of small businesses and first-time homebuyers connect with volunteer lawyers to guide them through the legal requirements of starting a business, navigating zoning law, purchasing real estate and more. Over the years, CEDLP’s work has expanded, filling the gaps as it discovered other needs for legal services. In addition to providing business law representation to non-profits, CEDLP now provides legal support for low-income individuals starting their own businesses, buying their first homes or writing their wills.

CEDLP continues to be the only public interest legal organization in Chicago dedicated to assisting  non-profit groups with their neighborhood revitalization efforts. Today, CEDLP marshals an average of $2 million in pro bono legal services each year. For its critical and high-quality services supporting the legal needs of the community development field in Chicago, the Community Economic Development Law Project isthis year’s recipient of the CNDA Special Recognition Award.