Volunteer Spotlight: Callie Query
Volunteer Helps Clients through Virtual Clinics during Coronavirus Pandemic
Callie Query has provided legal advice on housing problems, divorce rights, employment issues, probate and custody matters during her seven years as a pro bono attorney for The Legal Aid Society of Columbus and Southeastern Ohio Legal Services.
Query volunteers twice a month at brief advice clinics that are normally held at libraries, churches and community centers. With the coronavirus pandemic, community-based brief advice clinics are temporarily canceled, but for sensitive legal matters that cannot wait for the clinics to restart, Legal Aid has gone virtual.
Virtual Clinics are held over the phone and typically take about 20 minutes to give the client the legal advice they need to move forward. Both of the cases where Callie has assisted, so far, were related to eviction questions.
“Sometimes it just takes 10 minutes, and it makes such an impact on their life,” Callie said. “That’s why I volunteer – it really is the ‘helping people’ part of it.”
Over the years, cases that stand out in Callie’s mind include an adoption dispute and divorces. She tries to simplify the process for clients who might feel intimidated by the court and to provide reassurance to people who are facing a difficult time in their lives.
“I’ve had a lot of women talking to me about divorce, and I can kind of pick up on domestic violence,” she said. “Sometimes it’s the first time they’ve told anyone. I try to help them become more comfortable talking about it. It helps to know because my advice might be different for them. For example, when to move out.”
An attorney managing the Lawyers for Kids program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Callie first started as a volunteer for Southeastern Ohio Legal Service’s Newark office when she was an undergraduate student at Denison University. She became a staff attorney at SEOLS after graduating from law school. So she understands first-hand how important volunteers are to ensure as many people as possible are served.
“Callie always goes above and beyond with her clinics, and she brings such a helpful perspective to each of her consultations, often providing suggestions on additional resources we could have available or information we can be supplying to volunteers,” said Dianna Parker, Ohio State Legal Services Association Director of Pro Bono & Community Engagement. “We are incredibly lucky to have her help, especially considering the fact that she spends her days doing similar legal work for families impacted by violence in our communities.”
Callie decided to become a lawyer when she was a young child. Her mother attended law school briefly in the 1970s and hoped her daughter would achieve that dream for herself. Callie recalls writing a paper about Sandra Day O’Connor in fourth grade and participating in a mock trial program during high school.
Her volunteer work with Legal Aid during college helped her earn a scholarship to law school. Her mom, Mary Stephenson, died in 2011, but was there to help celebrate when Callie graduated from the Moritz College of Law at the Ohio State University in 2004.
It’s been a rewarding career, Callie said, including her pro bono work with Legal Aid. She encourages others to volunteer their time.
“It’s such a small amount of time but can make such a difference,” she said.
To join Callie and our other Virtual Clinic volunteers, read on to learn how!