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 being interrogated in CPD custody. Chicago leads the nation in false and coerced confessions by a wide margin because less than 1% of suspects have an attorney present during interrogations. Volunteers are needed to help fix this injustice.


  • 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 is available.
  • Representation is limited in scope; no continued obligation to the client
  • Phone calls from the hotline will be forwarded directly to your cell phone, so you can volunteer remotely while doing other things
  • Attorneys counsel clients over the phone and/or in-person at the police station
  • Networking events and referrals available

Contact taylor@first-defense.org for info.

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.