Community Law Project of the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights

The Community Law Project helps to build, strengthen, and support community-based organizations and small businesses in Chicago’s low-income neighborhoods. We work with law firms to help nonprofits and small businesses spur equitable development.


The Community Law Project helps to build, strengthen, and support community-based organizations that are focused on economic development in Chicago’s low-income neighborhoods and that offer the delivery of social services to residents of these areas. We bring hope to impoverished neighborhoods by supporting small businesses and home ownership. Working with volunteers from Chicago’s top law firms, the Community Law Project’s expert legal staff provides nonprofit leaders and small businesses owners the knowledge to sustain the quality of their programs, improve outcomes, and spur economic development. We recognize that structural racism is a major contributor toward economic injustice; we work to eradicate racism and end poverty in our city and coordinate our activities in close working relationship with our community partners.

Our strategies include:

  • Providing transactional legal assistance to create, build the capacity of, stabilize, and foster growth of nonprofit organizations focused on economic development and social services in low-income communities.
  • Providing legal assistance to help low and moderate-income entrepreneurs grow and strengthen their small businesses, which in turn strengthens low-income communities, improves their financial stability, and brings in much-needed goods and services.
  • Providing legal support to coalitions of non-profit organizations in negotiations with developers to secure benefits for surrounding communities. Community benefits agreements (CBAs) may include commitments to build affordable housing, hire local residents and pay livable wages, among other investments important to Chicago neighborhoods and their residents.
  • Implementing community lawyering through all our programs—that is, working with our clients and communities at the grassroots level, attending community meetings, providing strategic feedback and advice to coalitions, helping to coordinate community input, and to negotiate or mediate constructively among multiple community stakeholders, when development threatens to displace  residents.

Services Provided

Business Planning

  • Forming a Business

Buying or Selling a Business

  • Buying or Selling a Franchise
  • Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)
  • Purchasing or Selling an Existing Business

Economic and Site Development

  • Lease Review

Human Resources, Workforce and Talent

  • Hiring and Firing

Networking and Associations

  • Demographically Based
  • Geographically Based
  • Home Based
  • Industry Specific
  • Small Business/General

Nonprofit and Social Enterprise

  • Board Development


  • Lease Review Assistance

Starting a Business

  • Forming a Business
  • Registration, Licenses and Permits

Legal Services

  • Contract Review
  • Employee Relations
  • Environmental Compliance
  • Forming a Business
  • Lease Review
  • Patent, Trademark & Copyright Information
Primary Contact
Bonnie Allen
100 North LaSalle Street, Suite 600
Chicago, IL 60602