CHICAGO — A prominent retired judge is launching a pro bono law firm to help people who face court battles but don’t want or can’t afford lawyers.

Richard Posner told the Law360 news service that several lawyers already signed up. He says he’ll fund the project himself, partly drawing on a $217,000 salary he’ll keep getting in retirement.

The 78-year-old gained fame for his intellectually rigorous but sometimes off-beat opinions on Chicago’s 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Appointed in 1981, Posner abruptly retired in September, citing clashes with fellow judges over what Posner considered unfair treatment of those acting as their own attorneys.

Ironically, the 7th Circuit Tuesday ordered a new trial in a case Posner oversaw by citing how Posner repeatedly rebuked the defendant, who represented himself, in jurors’ presence.