Pursuing Justice, Changing Lives
Volunteer Spotlight—Washington County native gives back to community with pro bono work
Even before her career as an attorney started, Southeastern Ohio Legal Services volunteer Maggie Huck was driven by service to those in need. As an undergraduate student at The Ohio State University, Maggie began volunteering with the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, and she eagerly looked forward to being able to help at these clinics as an attorney. Once she became licensed, she quickly sought out SEOLS for pro bono opportunities. Originally from Beverly, Ohio in Washington County, she was eager to give back to the community in which she was born and raised.

One of the things she loves most about the area where she grew up is that nobody hesitates to help their neighbor. To Maggie, volunteering with legal aid is a way to continue that tradition. Too often, she sees that people feel overwhelmed by a legal system that can seem stacked against them. Especially in civil cases, she knows how daunting the legal system can feel to those who can’t afford an attorney. Sometimes, she says, having someone sit and listen to their concerns and provide guidance can make a world of difference.

Maggie says volunteering with SEOLS is both personally and professionally rewarding. According to Maggie, volunteering with SEOLS clients makes her a better attorney and affords her the opportunity to become more familiar with the rules of multiple counties related to domestic relations cases. In addition to the professional benefits, Maggie says it’s fulfilling to help clients who arrive at a clinic feeling totally overwhelmed and leave with a better understanding of their legal issue, a practical framework on how to proceed, and some peace of mind.

SEOLS Pro Bono Coordinator Patricia Vargas Vegas says working with Maggie has been a wonderful experience. "Her dedication and efforts, especially as a new lawyer, are truly admirable," Patricia says. "She is kind, compassionate, and really takes the time to listen and to help our clients as much as she possibly can. We are incredibly lucky to have her, and she is, without a doubt, one of the most amazing volunteers!"

When asked what advice she has for potential volunteers who have limited free time or are hesitant to get involved, Maggie emphasizes both the need for their time and the support SEOLS provides to their pro bono attorneys. “SEOLS gives you a lot of helpful materials before your first clinic, so even if you aren’t super familiar with the area your clients need help in… someone from legal aid is always available via phone during the clinics.”

Maggie believes deeply in the ideals of diversity, equity, and inclusion. She says it’s incredibly important for attorneys to use their privilege to help break down barriers to the profession so that everyone who wants to practice law has a fair shot at pursuing their dream.

After graduating from Fort Frye High School and Washington State Community College, Maggie went on to earn her undergraduate and law degrees from Ohio State. When she’s not practicing domestic relations law with the Grossman Law Offices or offering her time as a volunteer, Maggie enjoys hiking, fishing, golfing, and spending time with friends and family.

Thanks to Maggie for her outstanding pro bono work!
Upcoming CLEs and Trainings

Assisting Low-Income Homeowners with Property Value Complaints 
Tuesday, Feb. 15, 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. 
Low-income homeowners often struggle to keep-up with their property tax payments, which is especially difficult when property values are reassessed during the confluence of a booming local real estate market and a pandemic. Homeowners who disagree with their property value can file complaints with the Franklin County Board of Revision through March 31, 2022 to ask for a value reduction or change. Volunteer attorneys will play a crucial role in advising low-income homeowners about their options for filing a complaint. This training will equip pro bono attorneys with the information needed to advise homeowners about the complaint process and also assist homeowners with Board of Revision Zoom hearings. Get registered today.
Volunteers Needed

Opportunity Port 
LASC needs help with a new record sealing program. Opportunity Port is a platform that assists justice-involved Franklin County residents with record sealing applications. The platform enables the applicant to schedule a remote appointment with an attorney who can screen for eligibility and prepare record sealing applications. Any completed application will be filed with the court through the platform with no filing fee. Training will be provided for anyone who joins. To get involved, please sign up here.

Remote Clean Slate 
In addition to serving the reentry needs of Franklin County litigants, we also continue to need volunteer attorneys for our remote Clean Slate Clinic, which helps rural clients with remote record sealing and/or those seeking help with Certificates of Qualification for Employment (CQEs). If you are interested in helping out with our remote Clean Slate Clinic, please sign up here.

Family Law Attorneys needed for Virtual Brief Advice Clinics 
LASC and SEOLS have experienced an increase in family law questions for our virtual advice clinics. Phone consultations take between 15-30 minutes on average, and attorneys can volunteer as little or as much as they wish. To sign up for a virtual clinic shift, please sign up here.

Fairfield County and Franklin County Tenant Advocacy Project
In Person
Fairfield County Tenant Advocacy Project: The TAP clinic provides free legal information, advice and representation to tenants who are being evicted. SEOLS staff and pro bono attorneys meet with tenants prior to their eviction hearings. Clinics take place on Tuesday afternoons. Sign up to volunteer here. We also offer TAP clinics in Washington and Athens counties, so if you would like to learn more, email our TAP Fellow Caitlyn McDaniel.

Franklin County Tenant Advocacy Project: Legal Aid offers a daily clinic for tenants with eviction hearings each morning in Franklin County. Attorneys handle eviction hearings or negotiate resolutions, including drafting agreed entries. Sign up to volunteer here.
LASC Day with the Columbus Blue Jackets
LASC has partnered with the Columbus Blue Jackets to put together a great event for their supporters, friends, and family! This fundraiser will help LASC continue their mission to provide civil legal aid, combat unfairness and injustice, and help people rise out of poverty.

For each ticket purchased, the Blue Jackets will be giving back $10-$20 per ticket to the Legal Aid Society of Columbus!

For details, check out the LASC Day flyer or visit bluejackets.com/LASC.
OSLSA in the News

Here’s a roundup of recent media coverage of our work:

OPLC Director Susan Jagers was quoted in the Ohio Capital Journal about the need for a public process to determine how to allocate American Rescue Plan dollars in Ohio "Org leaders: Health, food security should be top priority in ARPA spending" (Dec. 20, 2021).

OPLC Director Susan Jagers was again quoted about the need for a public, transparent process for allocating American Rescue Plan funds in this Columbus Dispatch article, “Gov. DeWine signs $4 billion COVID-19 relief bill, vetoes pause of child care rating system” (Dec. 23, 2021).

LASC Staff Attorney Paul Bryson is quoted in this Columbus Dispatch article about Franklin County Municipal Court's Owner-Occupied Initiative, "Court project helps elderly, low-income property owners with code violations stay in homes" (Dec. 27, 2021).

LASC Social Worker Chris Kelly offered advice for tenants concerned about evictions during an appearance on NBC4's Better Call 4, "Help available for those facing evictions" (Jan. 4, 2022).

A joint statement from OPLC, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, and the Ohio Consumers’ Council was cited in this Ohio Capital Journal article, “Dayton utility asks regulators to make electric shutoffs easier” (Jan. 4, 2022).

OPLC’s support for Senate Bill 242, which would require stores to accept cash, was cited in an Axios Columbus segment, “Ask Axios: What's the deal with "cashless" businesses?” (Jan. 11, 2022).

SEOLS Staff Attorney Peggy Lee and LASC Staff Attorney Melissa Linville were both quoted an Energy News Network piece about a surge of electricity disconnects after a statewide moratorium was lifted, "Ohio regulators dismiss pleas to investigate utility power shutoffs" (Jan. 7, 2022), and a follow-up piece "Ohio advocates say there's still a need to knock on doors before utility shutoffs" (Jan. 14, 2022).

LASC was mentioned as a recipient of an Ohio State Bar Foundation grant in this Toledo Blade article, “Raising money for innovative medicine, and handing out grants for legal assistance” (Jan. 13, 2022).
Help Wanted:

We have a number of open positions at LASC and SEOLS/OSLSA. Check out the links for more information and to apply!