Everyday Justice Blog

Meet Two Of Our New Supervising Attorneys!

October 29, 2021

CARPLS is expanding our team to grow our existing and new programs. Learn more about the work we’re doing for Spanish language services and for cannabis expungement through New Leaf Illinois.

Patricia Cintron-Bastin, CARPLS’ new Supervising Attorney of Spanish Language Services and Paralegals

Patricia was promoted to this position in mid-October.

Over the past fifteen years, Patricia has provided legal advice and referral to thousands of Spanish-speaking clients in Cook County. Her concentration has been family law as a Domestic Relations help desk attorney. Prior to becoming a staff attorney with CARPLS, she served as a child representative and guardian ad litem with the Office of Cook County Public Guardian.

While at the Public Guardian’s office, she advocated for children’s rights. In addition to her legal career, Patricia is a beloved adjunct professor at Wilbur Wright College where she has taught paralegals students for over 14 years. In Spring of 2019, she received the adjunct of the year award.

Patricia was born and raised in Chicago and is of Puerto Rican descent. She is the Vice President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois and member of the Hispanic National Bar Association and the Hispanic Lawyer’s Association of Illinois.

Pat Wrona, CARPLS Director of Legal Services, says “Patricia is going to be a great general supervisor, with her many years of experience at CARPLS, her family law and public guardian expertise, her tireless service to our Spanish-speaking clients, and her very high standards for legal work and productivity.

Patricia will supervise not a desk or a project, but an effort, and that is our delivery of legal services to the fastest growing segment of the Cook County client base: Latinx and Spanish-speaking clients. CARPLS’ current strategic plan, including community outreach and the Latinx community, is a big part of that. Creating this new role shows CARPLS’ commitment to this population in our community.”

What are you looking forward to in your new role?

I have worked at CARPLS Legal Aid for over 16 years, and I am beyond elated that I have been promoted to full-time Spanish Languages Supervisor. We are the leading legal services provider in Cook County and have an amazing Spanish-speaking staff dedicated to our clients. I hope to make our services even more accessible.

What is the significance of your new role and its future impact on CARPLS? 

This is a very significant role to the legal aid community. We are embarking on a new era of providing access to the Latinx community, which is often marginalized in legal aid.

What do you hope CARPLS does for Spanish-speaking clients going forward? 

At times, Spanish speakers encounter legal issues and have no idea where they can turn to. They are often distraught and concerned. CARPLS has always been considered the legal triage of Cook County. Having the ability of a client to speak to a lawyer in their native language is not only helpful but also comforting to many of our clients. We provide our services with the compassion and respect that our clients deserve.

What do you hope to do collaboratively with our new Community Engagement initiative? 

I hope that with our new community engagement initiative that we can expand on our current work within the Latinx community. Currently we have a partnership with Taller de Jose, an agency that accompanies individuals, serving as a bridge to connect them to the health, legal, and social services needed to achieve their goals. Through this program, social workers are able to book appointments for clients to speak directly with a Spanish-speaking attorney. We hope to grow this type of partnership with other social service agencies in Chicago.

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Peter Honigmann, CARPLS’ New Supervising Attorney for New Leaf Illinois

Peter’s legal career began in earnest when he and his wife, Molly, started a small bankruptcy firm in Phoenix, Arizona. They moved back to the Midwest to be closer to family.

Over his career Peter has practiced in many settings, from a large insurance defense firm to small firms that focused on mechanics liens and boutique litigation matters, as well as working many years as corporate counsel for a closely-held Chicago lumber company.

However, because of his initial work as a consumer bankruptcy attorney, Peter longed to return to working with clients who had everyday legal issues, leading him to CARPLS. Peter first worked at CARPLS from 2003 to 2006, as a part-time staff attorney, and also as the primary attorney for the newly created collections desk at the Daley Center. After the lumber company he was working for closed, Peter returned to CARPLS in early 2019. In October 2021, Peter became the Supervisor for CARPLS’ New Leaf Cannabis Expungement Project.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Peter lived in Japan for several years, which lead to his studying Japanese at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Peter has also practiced martial arts for over 35 years. In his spare time, he teaches self-defense to adults and seniors throughout Illinois.

Pat Wrona, CARPLS Director of Legal Services, said Peter’s “excellent legal skills, great work ethic, calm manner and practical approach will greatly add to our supervisory capabilities.”

What are you looking forward to in your new role? 

As a staff attorney, I had a narrow role, providing basic legal advice to our clients in many areas of law, from housing and collections to expunging and sealing cannabis records.

As a supervising attorney for New Leaf, I will still have the opportunity to provide legal advice to clients, but I will also have a number of other duties that will include everything from overseeing the New Leaf staff attorneys and paralegals, to maintaining and updating our legal subjects related to cannabis, and contacting other local agencies and organizations that we hope will assist us in reaching more clients who need help with expunging their cannabis records.

These new duties will provide an exciting challenge for me.

What is the significance of New Leaf and its future impact on CARPLS?

While the general hotline offers us a way for CARPLS to provide basic legal advice to many people who cannot afford to hire an attorney, most of the time we are limited to consultations, as there simply are not enough agencies to take on the volume of cases that come to us. However, with New Leaf, if a person is qualified for expungement under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, there is a very good chance that person will be able to get additional free legal and other assistance from one of the 20 non-profit organizations working on the New Leaf program.

What do you hope CARPLS does for those seeking cannabis expungements going forward? 

People with cannabis charges or convictions on their records can have a host of legal issues, from negatively impacting employment and educational opportunities, to limiting the ability to get better housing, creating obstacles that reduce opportunities for professional and occupational licensing, and potentially affecting a person’s ability to obtain, or maintain, a security clearance.

I hope that by seeking expungement of their cannabis records that our clients will have a brighter future with far more employment, educational and housing opportunities.

What do you hope to do collaboratively with our new Community Engagement initiative?

Having a Community Engagement Coordinator will undoubtedly be a great way for CARPLS to reach communities, groups and organizations, and educate them about the many legal programs we offer. Specifically for the New Leaf program, it will hopefully lead us on a path to reaching the many people in Cook County who have expungable cannabis charges or convictions on their records and are probably unaware that the New Leaf program exists. New Leaf has the capacity to help a large number of clients, and working with our new Community Engagement Coordinator will provide us with the ability to significantly increase the number of services we are providing.

2021-11-01T11:10:58-05:00