Legal Aid Attorneys Make The Difference
May 2019

This is the third of three reports in the Opening the Door on Chicago Evictions series.

Key Findings

There was a vast imbalance in rates of representation between landlords and tenants. Between 2010 and 2017, Chicago saw an average of 23,000 eviction cases filed per year. In those cases, 79% of landlords had attorneys, while only 11% of tenants did.

Without an attorney, the likelihood that an eviction order will be entered against a tenant is about 62%; with an attorney, it’s about 45%. In other words, by having an attorney, tenants decreased their odds of getting an eviction order by about 25%.

The benefits of having an attorney are even greater when the tenant is represented by a civil legal aid provider, a non-profit organization that offers free legal help with non-criminal legal issues. 50% of cases where tenants were represented by private attorneys resulted in eviction orders. Legal aid representation resulted in eviction orders only 22% of the time, less than half the rate of their private attorney counterparts.


The Circuit Court of Cook County should establish a pilot program to collect more and better data about evictions to understand outcomes and impacts of eviction.

Chicago should set up a Task Force on Eviction Prevention and Response.

Illinois and Chicago should allocate adequate funds to implement a “Right to Counsel” for renters in eviction court.

Illinois and Chicago should increase funding for legal aid tenant representation until Right to Counsel can be implemented.