Big News! The Arts & Business Council of Chicago (A&BC) is joining forces with Lawyers for the Creative Arts (LCA)! Stay tuned for more announcements!

Legal Services

Client Policies and Referral Procedures

To Obtain Legal Services

The process begins with an Application.  Please submit an online Application telling us about yourself and your legal needs. Financial information is required to determine eligibility for pro bono (free) legal assistance. Both our volunteer attorneys and our funders require that we provide pro bono services only to those clients who qualify financially. We will consider special financial circumstances.

If you qualify for pro bono assistance, any attorney who volunteers to help you will not charge you legal fees. You will, however, be responsible for any out-of-pocket expenses such as registration fees and all court costs and filing fees. If you do not qualify for pro bono legal service, we can still help you find an attorney who specializes in the type of legal service which you seek. We are in contact with many attorneys who are willing to reduce their rates in order to assist those in the arts.

There is a processing fee for all applicants, which is $25 for individuals and $75 for businesses and groups of two or more individuals payable by cash, check, Visa, Mastercard or Discover.

What Happens Next

Once we review your application, if we require additional information, we will call you to arrange an appointment to assess your legal needs. In some cases we will have enough information from your application to start the referral process without the need for an appointment.

LCA is essentially an informational resource and a referral service to those in the arts, and we do not represent you as your legal counsel. We will, however, gather facts and review your legal matter/s to help you find legal representation through our referral program. Occasionally, we can handle legal matters in-house with our own staff attorneys. If so, we will discuss and confirm this with you.

Referrals for adverse parties.  Occasionally, both sides of a dispute, contract or other legal relationship may independently contact LCA for legal representation. In these cases, as in all other matters, we will attempt to obtain legal counsel for any qualified party. As in all cases, we will not disclose any confidential information provided to us without the permission of the party providing that information.  We strongly encourage mediation of disputes and other appropriate matters, and doing so may require disclosure of the minimal information that other parties have sought LCA’s referral services in the same matter.  Please discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your LCA intake person.

Case List.  Once our initial intake is complete, and your file is ready for referral, LCA staff will add your matter to our case list, which we regularly distribute to our volunteer network. Volunteers then select matters based upon their interest, experience and time availability.

Timing.  Our volunteer attorneys are busy professionals who volunteer to assist LCA clients in specific matters.  We do not make a referral until the volunteer has indicated he or she is willing to undertake the matter; we do not assign or require any attorney to represent you.  The time-to-referral is highly variable, and is largely out of our control.  Some matters, such as disputes or litigation, which are open-ended as to time, are harder to place than other matters. Please be patient, but do not hesitate to contact us to inquire about the status of your matter.  See “Emergencies” section below for important information with respect to time-sensitive matters.

Scope of Representation by Volunteers.  When an attorney agrees to handle your matter, we will notify you and provide the attorney’s name and contact information. It is your obligation to contact the attorney. You will establish a professional attorney-client relationship, and LCA will not be a part of the relationship. We may, however, follow up with you to determine if your legal work has been completed and to obtain feedback about working with LCA and our volunteers. Of course, if any problems arise, we are pleased to consult with you to see if we can help.

The attorney who accepts your matter agrees to handle only the particular matter that you discuss with us. He or she does not become your “general counsel” to handle other matters. The attorney is not obligated to perform further services, nor are you obligated to work with any particular attorney. If a new matter arises, you may discuss further work with your attorney or return to LCA and open a new file.

Communicating with LCA Staff

In the event that new information arises that changes your situation in any way, please inform LCA staff promptly. Please also inform us of any change of address, email, or phone. Note that if we request additional information, your file will be placed on reserve until such time as the information is received.

The contact information you provide will be added to our mailing list unless you indicate otherwise. You will then receive notices of upcoming programs, events and news. You can opt out at any time if you choose.


We are not able to provide emergency legal service, because we are not a law firm and do not have staff available to meet pressing demands. We cannot undertake to prioritize time-sensitive matters above other matters, nor can we undertake to research the pendency of time deadlines, such as statutes of limitations, court deadlines, and the like. If you feel your matter requires a quick response from LCA, by all means tell us that.  But, you should also independently seek assistance from other sources who may be able to respond more quickly.  We can provide possible sources of alternative legal assistance upon request.

Other Services

LCA provides many educational workshops throughout the year. Please check our calendar for upcoming programs.

We also offer an Arts Mediation Service to help artists resolve legal disputes outside of the difficult and costly litigation environment.

Apply for Help


Our Services

Lawyers for the Creative Arts provides pro bono legal assistance to clients in all areas of art, culture, media, and entertainment, including the visual, literary, and performing arts. Our clients are individuals, for-profit, and not-for-profit groups. We offer direct counseling and maintain a referral program to hundreds of attorneys in the Chicago area. We also serve as an educational resource for the arts and legal communities.

LCA has a long-standing history of offering counsel to the not-for-profit community and holds a specialized incorporation and tax exemption workshop seven times a year to help set up nonprofit organizations. Our staff provides detailed instruction and review of tax exemption forms.  We offer legal advice in all areas of not-for-profit operation.

In addition, LCA offers low cost dispute resolution services through its Patricia Felch Arts Mediation Service. A neutral mediator will work with both sides of a dispute to help the parties compromise and reach a settlement outside of the costly and stressful courtroom litigation environment.

LCA advises clients in the full array of legal issues that they encounter such as:

  • Corporate and general business matters;
  • Copyright, trademark, and patents;
  • Rights clearance and fair use;
  • Contract drafting, review, and negotiation;
  • Dispute resolution and litigation;
  • Nonprofit formation and tax exemption;
  • Rights of privacy and publicity;
  • Visa and immigration;
  • Landlord-tenant;
  • Employment.

Apply for Help

Client Profiles

Click the image to view profiles of some of our recent clients from our 2021 Annual Benefit Program Book.

Image courtesy Joe Mazza — Brave Lux

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