Domestic violence victims often do not have access to legal help – for financial reasons, because they don’t live near such practicing lawyers, or both. Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon says she is trying to solve that with the “virtual legal clinic,” in which someone can go to a shelter or other participating agency and get free legal help via video link. Simon's office has announced the number of virtual clinics has doubled – from three to six. Locations in Rockford, Rochelle, and Freeport join Peoria, Jacksonville, and Cairo.
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“If you're in a barroom fight, you're probably going to be pretty anxious to prosecute the person who hit you,” says Simon of the complexity of these cases. “In domestic violence, the victim and the perpetrator often have children in common … and live together and are married and, despite the violent nature of the relationship, have many social pressures keeping them together.”
Simon’s office says 80 of Illinois’ 102 counties have five or fewer family law attorneys. 47 of those 80 have none.