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Mission & History

Our Vision

Everyone has fundamental human rights which deserve protection, including people in prison, people experiencing homelessness, people who are disabled, and tenants. 

Our Mission

UPLC advocates for prisoners, tenants, and disabled people denied public benefits.

Our Background

UPLC was started in 1975 by former coal miners and their widows in an effort to secure black lung benefits for disabled coal miners. But over the years, UPLC grew into a full-service, community based, legal clinic. It has refined and sharpened its legal practice to reflect the changing times and the evolving legal needs of the people of Uptown and throughout the state. Its lawyers and support staff have developed strong expertise in the areas of housing law, Social Security disability income, and prisoners’ rights issues.

The People We Serve

UPLC’s constituency is the people of the Uptown neighborhood, the poor and neglected throughout the Chicago area, and prisoners in Illinois. We work to improve people’s quality of life through sound, community-oriented lawyering and by leveraging the law to effect social change.

Our clients are of all races and ethnicities. Many are immigrants, most are poor. The steady erosion of government support for poor people and the cycle of deprivation, alienation, and incarceration have increased the need for an organization like UPLC.

Our Work

For many people, UPLC is their last and only legal resort against negligent or unethical landlords, a slow-moving and insensitive Social Security bureaucracy, or an unjust prison system.

Because of our long-term and deep connection to Uptown, we do not view each individual case in isolation, but rather try to address the root of the underlying issues. Rather than just taking on a specific “legal case,” we look at the person as a member of the community who needs our help.

Please note that UPLC does not represent individuals in criminal cases. Additionally, due to attorney/client privilege we can not discuss details regarding a prisoner with family or friends, unless we first receive a letter in writing from the prisoner.

Annual Report

Check out our 2023 Annual Report. We are excited to share the progress we made this year!

  • Click the cover image to read our 2023 Annual Report!

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