Hotline Number 312-738-9200
One Justice Chicago
CARPLS' FOUNDING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:
10 Questions with MaryAnn Sarosi
In 1992, MaryAnn Sarosi was hired as the founding director of CARPLS.

In the twenty years since she left CARPLS, MaryAnn has continued her public interest focus as the Director of the Access to Justice Program at the State Bar of Michigan, Assistant Dean for Public Interest at Michigan Law School, and her civil rights work on behalf of Michigan youth sentenced as adults.
How did you end up in the legal aid field?
 
The Lawyer’s Trust Fund had just completed the Legal Needs Study, which recommended the creation of a centralized intake legal aid program. I interviewed with Ruth Ann Schmitt for the executive director position of this yet-to-be created nonprofit with a funky acronym. Ruth Ann hired me September of 1992, and then I started right after the election of November 1992. My first “office” was LTF’s copy room until I found CARPLS’ office space in Greektown. 
 
What drew you to this position?
 
I was drawn to the idea of creating something from scratch and all the detail that goes along with that. It was very entrepreneurial to take an untested idea and run with it. When you take an idea from paper to reality, you have to work on a million different things simultaneously. Call me crazy, but I thought that was fun.
 
What goes into a job like this?
 
An organization has different challenges that correspond to its age. I oversaw the giving birth and infancy stages of CARPLS when every aspect of the business didn’t have a policy attached to it yet, so I managed the planning in buckets. The buckets covered areas like the office itself (finding office space, furniture, telephone lines, payroll), board policies (developing terms, bylaws, board recruitment), office policies (deciding whether attorneys would be online full time or in shifts), HR, delivery of services (how many calls would come in, what would peak times be, how to handle call backs, when to refer a client, relationships with partner legal aid programs) and development.

Who was your first hire?
 
Leslie Corbett (current Executive Director at Illinois Equal Justice Foundation) was my first hire. I needed someone smart and resourceful and Leslie was a great fit. My second hire was none other than Al Schwartz. He was the first of six attorneys that I hired in the first round and, may I say, a fellow University of Michigan alum.

What surprised you?
 
We planned everything out, had every single detail down, but when our first call came in and we were all standing there watching as the phone rang at Al’s desk, Al asked, “well, how do we answer it?” I realized we hadn’t discussed that! 
After 5 years at CARPLS, what was it like to leave?
 
The entire time I was there, the goal was to make sure that clients got quality services. It was hard to leave, but I was ready to pass it on. I got CARPLS to a place they needed it to be. 
 
What did you learn from CARPLS?
 
How much time do you have? Seriously, one of the most interesting aspects was the ability to work with and negotiate with the other legal services programs. I loved the interconnected relationship with programs. 
 
What was it like to build an organization at a young age?
 
When I started CARPLS, I was 30 years old. At that time, Executive Directors of most of the legal services programs were in their 50s. When you’re that young, there’s a certain optimism and/or naiveté that can work in your favor. If I had taken that job when I was older, I wonder if I would’ve been as nimble. I remember talking to Ruth Ann about that years later. I asked her “What were you thinking hiring a 30-year-old with no managerial experience?” I don’t remember all of the reasons but one stuck out – she said she counted on the fact that, as a first generation American, I’d work really, really hard. That’s part of Ruth Ann’s quirky brilliance that I always admired.
 
How would you describe CARPLS today?
 
CARPLS has done amazingly well. Each executive director has managed a different stage of CARPLS’ life and Al has been so creative in his tenure. But all three of us (Al, Leslie and I) would probably tell you that it takes much more than the ED to make it 25 years. The core is the commitment and hard work of the staff and the support and guidance of the board. 
 
Did you ever imagine getting to 25 years?
 
Early on, I went to CVLS’ 30th year celebration and I remember thinking, 'oh my gosh, will we ever get here?' My first budget was $350,000 and our goal was to handle 10,000 client calls in the first year. Within five years we were well beyond that, and now Al and the CARPLS team has got it up much more. You don’t have time to think of the 25th year when you’re thinking of the first 25 days, so it’s satisfying to sit back and look at where CARPLS is today.  
Help Us Meet Our Goal of $1 Million!
Thank You To Our Supporters So Far!
There is still time to purchase a ticket or table at our celebration next Thursday, May 9, 2019.

If you are interested in attending or would like more information, please email or call Tanya Pietrkowski at tpietrkowski@carpls.org or 312-421-4014 by tomorrow, May 2.

We look forward to seeing you there!
Ralph A. Gabric Awardee
Shawn Fagan
Managing Director &
Chief Legal Officer
Citadel
Golden Gavel Awardee
D. Cameron Findlay
Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary
Archer Daniels Midland Company
Co-Dinner Chairs
Samuel K. Skinner
Of Counsel
Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Adam Hoeflich
Partner
Bartlit Beck LLP
Daniel Rubinstein
Partner
Winston & Strawn LLP
Honorary Council


Suzanne S. Bettman , LSC Communications, Inc.

Thomas A. Cole , Sidley Austin LLP

Patrick J. Fitzgerald , Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Affiliates

Brett J. Hart , United Airlines, Inc.

Maggie A. Hickey , Schiff Hardin LLP

Peter M. Lieb , Aon
Client Success Story
Nora, a 70-year-old senior, has mobility disabilities, and had been living in the house she was renting for 22 years when she was asked to move out in 20 days.

She called CARPLS and we were able to refer her to social services so that she could secure housing via our new CARPLS Seniors Project for the City of Chicago. 

She called us back to thank the paralegal that helped her and to let us know she had found housing!
Everyday Justice Blog: Poverty
By Ashlee Highland, Supervising Attorney

When I started college, I knew that I would become a corporate lawyer because I wanted to make a lot of money. With my father and grandfathers all being lawyers, it was an easy career decision. Dad recommended that I attend business school first. So, when I attended business school and volunteered at a domestic violence shelter, I then realized that I really wanted to devote my career to helping people have a voice in their legal problems. While at law school, I was committed to working in legal aid, but I didn’t truly understand how big a role poverty plays in impacting our clients’ legal problems.

Legal Aid Problems Exacerbated by Poverty

With any legal problem that CARPLS hears on the hotline or at our court-based advice desks, poverty has always made it worse. Day in and day out talking to clients, we hear about poverty regarding a myriad of legal problems, stemming from civil, criminal or family matters.


Our Golden Gavel Sponsors To Date
CARPLS would like to extend a thank you to all of our Golden Gavel Celebration sponsors to date. Their generous participation ensures access to justice is available for all. A special thank you to  Bartlit Beck LLP and Kirkland & Ellis, LLP for being our Marquee Anniversary Sponsors.
Marquee Anniversary Sponsors
Presenting Sponsors
Kenneth C. Griffin
Benefit Sponsor
Champion Sponsors
Founder Sponsors
Cornerstone Sponsors
Mike Pace
Frontline Sponsors
Kathy & Kyle Hartman
William H. Strong
Partner Sponsors
Nick J. DiGiovanni
Brock & Kristen LaMarca Family Foundation
Prof. Leonard
J. & Joyce S. Schrager

 Cameron &
Amy Findlay
Guardian Sponsors


  • Bruce Braun & Diane Saltoun

  • Robert & Isabel Curley

  • Paul & Susan Freehling

  • Ralph & Barb Gabric

  • The Hon. Susan Fox Gillis

  • Margaret Haas


  • Chelsea & Jim Medek


  • Pamela L. Peters & Michael J. Hughes

  • Tanya & Henry Pietrkowski

  • Denise Pietrucha

  • Joe & Ana Whittingham
CARPLS | 17 N. State Street | Suite 1850 | Chicago | Illinois | 60602 | carpls.org