Margaret Benson is the Executive Director of Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, which has provided free legal services to tens of thousands of people living and working in poverty since 1964, thanks to a small dedicated staff and 3,000 volunteer attorneys. She received her law degree from Loyola University Chicago College of Law in 1979. After working for a small family law firm for two years, she found her passion in 1982 when she joined CVLS in 1982 as a staff attorney. She became deputy director a year later and, in 2004, became executive director.
Meg is responsible for overall program management and fundraising while also coordinating CVLS’ bench, bar and law firm relations. An experienced family law litigator, Meg spent years handling child custody, visitation, adoption and guardianship litigation. She helped draft substantive changes to the Illinois Probate Act and still consults on minor guardianship cases from time to time. She regularly speaks on child custody, client and pro bono issues for the ISBA, CBA and IICLE and writes a bi-monthly column on pro bono for the Chicago Lawyer.
In 2017, Meg received Loyola Law School’s Public Service Merit Award. Prior honors include the Chicago Inn of Court Donald Hubert Public Service Award in 2015; the Association of Corporate Counsel-Chicago Chapter’s Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012; the Illinois State Bar Association’s Board of Governors Award in 2007; the Chicago Bar Foundation’s Thomas H. Morsch Public Service Award in 2001; the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois’ Esther Rothstein Award in 1999 and Loyola University School of Law’s Public Service Award in 1994.
Meg is an active member of ISBA’s Legislation Committee and former chair of its LawPac Board. She serves on the CBA’s Pro Bono Week Committee and co-chairs the Advisory Committee of the Chicago Bar Foundation’s Legal Aid Academy. Past activities include chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Delivery of Legal Services Committee, charter member of the Illinois Pro Bono Center’s Board of Directors, Board of Directors of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois and two-term ISBA Assembly member.
Meg also serves as the Chair of the Police & Fire Commission for the Village of Winnetka. She spent 11 years on Winnetka’s Zoning Board of Appeals, five of those as Chair and recently chaired its Downtown Mas- ter Plan Steering Committee.
She is married to Art Simon, a CVLS volunteer and principal at Crane, Simon, Clar & Goodman. They have three daughters, Julia, Caroline and Gina.