eNewsletter - June 2018


LAF eNewsletter

June 2018

 In this month's eNewsletter, we catch you up on our annual luncheon, share a couple of recent success stories, and introduce you Ainat Margalit, an outstanding senior attorney in our consumer group.


As always, we thank you for your continued support of LAF's work to make equal justice a reality in Chicago.



Celebrating LAF at our annual luncheon 



On June 21st, LAF hosted our annual luncheon at the Palmer House. At this year’s event we heard inspiring speeches from honorees Judge Ann Williams and Ainat Margalit about how we can all fight for equal justice, and former LAF client Kathy Ismar shared her story of how LAF helped her keep her home and start a new chapter in life after her abusive husband left her on the brink of foreclosure. All of them delivered passionate and inspiring remarks to an audience full of loyal LAF supporters.


Check out all the photos from the event


Watch our client Kathy tell her story (video)


A little advocacy goes a long way 


Abigail came to LAF with an unusual problem. She was thirty-five years old and was born and raised in Chicago, but she’d never applied for a social security number. For most of her life, Abigail had lived with her mother, and she’d spent the last several years providing in-home care while her mother’s health declined. The two of them lived on her mom’s pension payments.


When her mother passed away, Abigail was left with no income. She needed an ID to apply for a job, and she needed a social security card to apply for an ID, but she lacked the necessary papers for registering with social security. So she came to LAF’s Katten De Diego legal clinic for help.


“She went her entire childhood without any official documentation. She was totally off the grid,” says Jenelle Pedroza, a social worker with LAF who worked on Abigail’s case. Jenelle accompanied Abigail to multiple appointments with the Social Security Administration, using whatever they could to establish her identity. They got creative with the materials they presented, even using newspaper clippings that featured a young Abigail with her mother at The Field Museum. Amy Marinacci, a supervisory attorney with LAF’s public benefits practice group, drafted a demand letter arguing that the documents Abigail presented were, in fact, sufficient to establish her identity. After months of perseverance, Abigail finally picked up her social security card.


Read more about Abigail and Dora here


Winning as a team for Fatima 


Last December, Fatima flew to Bosnia with her husband Julian and their two young children to see Julian’s family, for what she thought was just a routine visit. But as their scheduled return date neared, Fatima realized that Julian didn’t intend for her or the kids to return to Chicago. Instead, he planned to keep her and the children there against her will, thousands of miles from home, in a remote area of a country where she didn’t speak the language.


Fatima contacted the U.S. Embassy, who sent the police to Julian’s parents’ home. About a week later, with the help of a friend, Fatima eventually managed to flee Bosnia with her children. Two months after she returned home, Julian filed what’s known as a Hague petition, claiming that the children’s “habitual residence” was really in Bosnia, and that any court proceedings to decide custody should take place there, not in the U.S. If Fatima lost the Hague Petition hearing, it was almost certain that Julian would take the children back to Bosnia and make Fatima fight for custody there.


That is when Fatima came to LAF for help. LAF Supervisory attorney, JoAnn Villasenor and staff attorney, Teresa Sullivan and JoAnn Villasenor, took the lead on Fatima’s case, but the complexity and the urgency of the case made it a priority for the Children and Families Practice Group.


Read the rest of Fatima's story here


Meet Ainat Margalit 



Ainat Margalit is a Senior Attorney in the Consumer Practice Group at LAF where she focuses on homeownership preservation, bankruptcy and debt collection defense. She’s also the winner of the 2018 Solovy award, which she accepted at our annual luncheon last week.


Read our full profile of Ainat