Pro Bono Partners

DLA Piper

On the ground floor with the Cook County Public Defender's office

The Cook County Public Defender's office - a law firm of 500 attorneys charged with representing those who cannot afford private counsel - handles more than 135,000 cases a year and represents a critical voice in Illinois' criminal justice system. When Amy Campanelli took the top post earlier this year, she articulated a vision of public safety reform: reduce the number of people incarcerated and the length of incarceration. But how to get there?

To start, Amy turned to Civic Consulting Alliance to address several organizational challenges. Along with pro bono partner DLA Piper, the team created a plan to address four objectives: continue bond court reform, expand specialty courts, enhance communications and community engagement, and improve staff development and morale.

For each initiative, Civic Consulting developed a road map to address a variety of internal challenges, including reporting lines, staff training, and governance. Meanwhile, DLA Piper provided legal guidance, coaching the development team on best practices gleaned from their own experience as well as that of other public defender offices around the country.

"The work of Civic Consulting Alliance and DLA Piper laid the groundwork to advance our priorities, which will lead to a fairer criminal justice system and safer communities," said Campanelli.

Indeed, by addressing enterprise-wide challenges up front, Campanelli will be well-positioned to make progress on her ultimate goal: reducing Cook County's jail population.

The work of Civic Consulting Alliance and DLA Piper laid the groundwork to advance our priorities, which will lead to a fairer criminal justice system and safer communities.

Amy Campanelli


Public Defender

Cook County