Our Background

The story of UPLC is the story of the neighborhood whose name it bears. The working poor of every race and creed have found in Uptown a place steeped in the spirit of the community.


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 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.

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.

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

uptown mural

Our clients are are all races and a variety of ethnicities. Many are immigrants, most are poor. The steady erosion of government support for poor people and the singular crisis facing so many young people in all poor urban neighborhoodsthe cycle of deprivation, alienation, and incarcerationhave increased the need for an organization like UPLC.

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