occupations, including attorneys from various practice areas, law professors, a juvenile probation
and court services employee, a retired lieutenant and homicide detective with the Chicago police
department, and a Lawndale Christian Health Center director.119 Representatives from LCLC visit
local high schools to educate the students on their legal rights so that they are aware of their options
if they have an encounter with law enforcement.120
Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Executive Director of Equal Justice Initiative, has stated that
the first step in creating greater justice in our society is to “get proximate.”121 Specifically, he
encourages his audiences with these words, “Get close to the things that matter, get close to the
places where there is inequality and suffering, get close to the spaces where people feel oppressed,
burdened, and abused . . . . See what it does to your capacity to make a difference, see what it does
to you.”122 Mr. Nellis and most of the Legal Center’s staff themselves live in the neighborhood in
close proximity to the people they are serving. “We see ourselves as less of an organization and
more as people who live and work in the neighborhood who are trying to mobilize community
resources already here,” stated Mr. Nellis in an interview with the Chicago Bar Foundation.123 He
added, “There’s a sense of solidarity with the community that, I think, fosters trust, which is
The Progressives were onto something when they evaluated all of the facts and circumstances
of a child’s life in an effort to ascertain the root of his or her criminal behavior, perhaps obeying
some natural law idea of looking after the prisoner and orphan. However, our experience tells us
that such an approach is impracticable in today’s society, where judges are overwhelmed with
criminal cases. Moreover, the post-Progressives were also right in that judges and attorneys are
not always capable of making a judgment that is in the child’s best interests. Subsequently,
politicians in the 1980s and 1990s carried out society’s wishes by imposing harsher penalties on
violent juvenile offenders, idealizing public safety and welfare. Modern research on juvenile
cognitive development combined with the deplorable conditions of juvenile and adult institutions
indicate that incarceration is not rehabilitative in any sense of the word. Highlighting the problem
is much easier than proposing a solution, but the members of Lawndale Christian Church have
attempted to address these problems in its mission to serve its community.
119 Board of Directors, LAWNDALE CHRISTIAN LEGAL CTR.,
http://lclc.net/about-us/board/ (last visited Apr. 27, 2016).
LCLC’s volunteers are a diverse group, because LCLC welcomes volunteers from all backgrounds whether an
individual is an “attorney, social worker, pastor, fundraiser, grant writer, administrator, office manager, school teacher,
tutor, probation officer, counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, investigator, paralegal, police officer, judge, accountant,
or someone who simply loves youth and wants to be a mentor . . . .” Volunteer Opportunities, LAWNDALE CHRISTIAN
LEGAL CTR., http://lclc.net/partnering/volunteering/ (last visited Apr. 27, 2016).
120 Holistic Legal Services, supra note 113. The LCLC also partners with “school programs, youth clubs, sports
programs, church programs, and other advocacy groups,” because “[w]e need to join hands in an effort to raise our
121 Tatiana Johnson, Bryan Stevenson Discusses his Four Elements for Creating Change, HARV. JOHN F. KENNEDY
SCH. OF GOV’T (Apr. 6, 2015), http://www.hks.harvard.edu/news-events/news/alumni/bryan-stevenson-discusses-his-four-elements-for-creating-change.
122 Id. (quoting Bryan Stevenson in an address given to Harvard students and faculty).
123 Lawndale Christian Legal Center, THE CHI. BAR FOUND. (Oct. 15, 2015),