Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer attorneys and 711 students needed at First Defense Legal Aid


First Defense Legal Aid


Can be done anywhere



FDLA is a non-profit organization that provides free legal representation to people in Chicago Police Department custody that do not yet have a lawyer. Less than 1% of suspects have legal representation at the time of questioning, leading to false confessions and police abuses. Volunteer attorneys are needed to help fix that problem.


  • Any current or retired member of the Illinois Bar or 711 eligible law student can volunteer
  • No previous criminal law experience required
  • Malpractice insurance provided
  • CLE credit for training
  • Previously screened phone calls from the hotline will be forwarded directly to your cell phone, home phone, or office line
  • Attorneys counsel clients over the phone or in-person at the police station
  • Calls can be answered remotely, around your schedule, while you do other things
  • Networking events and referrals available

Our next orientation is on Monday, October 17th from 6-7:30.

Contact taylor@first-defense for more information.

About the Organization

FDLA provides a free, reliable, and experienced lawyer to individuals who are arrested in the city of Chicago. The FDLA attorney is available at the initial and most critical stage of the criminal justice process: from the time of arrest until the court system assigns a Public Defender. At the police station, the attorney helps the client understand and assert his rights, gathers information about arrest and detainment, documents evidence of police brutality, advocates for medical treatment, and informs the family and friends of the detainee throughout the process.

FDLA also presents Street Law in schools and community groups. The Street Law presentations focus on what to do if you are stopped, searched, or arrested by the police, how to assert your rights on the street and at the station, and what to do if you feel that the police have violated your civil rights.



PDF icon First Defender FAQs.pdf