About Us


Our mission is to empower individuals and families impacted by gender-based violence or the child welfare system to achieve safety and stability through holistic legal advocacy and system reform.

We are working toward strong communities where people have the power to navigate fair systems and overcome violence.

Learn more by reading the stories of some of the individuals and families we have helped.

Legal Advocacy

We currently provide the following types of legal assistance to individuals and families:

Our services are unique and holistic, and many clients are served by a team of attorneys and other professionals who help address the range of legal needs they are facing. Many of our clients also benefit from being able to work with a client support coordinator, who can provide additional emotional support and help with logistics for individuals or families who are going through a particularly challenging time.

We do not provide the following at this time:

  • Representation in juvenile court
  • Divorces or custody assistance for individuals who are not survivors of gender-based violence
  • Immigration legal services for individuals who are not survivors of gender-based violence

System Reform

We build coalitions and collaborate with partners to change policies and practices. In particular, we are deeply committed to reforming how survivors of gender-based violence and their families are impacted by the child welfare system.

Learn more about our efforts and sign up to receive notifications when opportunities arise to participate in Advocacy Opportunities.

Our History

Founded in 1982 and incorporated in 1989 as Pro Bono Advocates, Ascend Justice has four decades of experience meeting the needs of survivors of domestic violence. From 2005 until 2019 we were known as the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic. In 2019 we merged with the Family Defense Center and rebranded as Ascend Justice. Throughout our history, we’ve worked to increase the safety and independence of survivors of domestic violence with skilled, compassionate legal representation.

Our Order of Protection Clinic and our domestic relations practices are our longest-standing client services. Our long-time location in the Cook County Circuit Court Domestic Violence Courthouse allows us to offer emergency legal services related to Orders of Protection and teams of volunteers work with staff attorneys to assist these clients with brief services, legal advice, and, in some cases, legal representation at the emergency stage of litigation.

Our second office on State Street, offers longer-term legal representation and assistance in the family law, immigration, economic justice, and family defense matters that are linked to the long-term safety of survivors and their children. In addition, Client Support Coordinators in both offices help with safety planning, emotional support, and connections to the resources necessary for safety and independence.

In March 2021, Ascend Justice launched an innovative new practice serving incarcerated survivors of domestic violence. Two attorneys collaborate with the Illinois Department of Corrections and Cook County Jail to provide civil legal services to survivors in women’s correctional facilities.

Our Strategic Plan, launched in January 2024, works as our guide for the coming years as we continue working towards our mission.

get help now


if you are in immediate danger


24/7 Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline


(877) 863-6338

Orders of Protection

Ascend Justice Remote OP Hotline:
Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm