Volume 8 April 2020
Pursuing Justice, Changing Lives
In this issue: Remote Service Opportunities, Services during COVID-19 and Volunteer Spotlight
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!
Virtual Clinics & Remote Service Opportunities
To ensure low-income people can still access legal help and advice during the COVID-19 crisis, LASC and SEOLS have created a new “Virtual Clinic” model, which engages our volunteer lawyers in phone advice clinics and remote services.

Our program is focusing on four key areas:
  • General Legal Advice
  • Unemployment Compensation Applications
  • Small Business and Nonprofit Assistance
  • “Clean Slate” Services (record-sealing applications and Certificates of Qualification for Employment)
To sign up to volunteer, please use this form.
Expectations & Flexible Time Commitment
On the online interest form , volunteers can specify when they are available to help, what areas of law they feel comfortable handling, and whether they need additional training. For Unemployment Programming, non-attorney volunteers are welcome.
Depending on the level of client need, most client services will take less than two hours, and volunteers can note whether they wish to provide help during or after business hours. Volunteers can handle as many clinics or clients as they wish and will always have the option of rejecting a referral at the time of request.

Training & Resources Available

We have online recorded trainings available and will provide this information at the time the volunteer registers. We are also compiling all relevant court orders and policy changes that volunteers may need to be aware of prior to speaking to the clients.
LASC/SEOLS is primarily relying on the expertise of our private bar partners in the areas of nonprofit and small business assistance.
Process: How Remote Service Works
For Brief Advice Virtual Clinics and Unemployment Clinics Clients are scheduled for clinic slots that align with volunteer availability and are told that they should expect a call during that window of time and that the call might be restricted or blocked (if volunteers are calling from cell phones).
For Reentry and Small Businesses – LASC/SEOLS will match attorneys 1:1 with clients and meeting times can be flexible.
Prior to the clinic time or when a client identifies a specific need, LASC/SEOLS Pro Bono Team staff will match clients with volunteers via a virtual referral email, which will include the client’s intake and contact information, contact information for our staff attorney mentor who is “on call” for the clinic, and a link to a case reporting form that we will ask the volunteer to complete after the consultation.
Pro Bono Program Overview
LASC/SEOLS supplies primary malpractice coverage for all volunteers, training resources, and access to attorney mentors. You can accrue one hour of general CLE for every six hours you volunteer, up to a total of six CLE hours per reporting period. Emeritus and Corporate Status also are eligible and encouraged to volunteer.
Please direct any questions about our Virtual Clinics to Director of Pro Bono & Community Engagement Dianna Parker at dparker@oslsa.org.

LASC and SEOLS Hard at Work and even
Expanding Services during COVID-19 Crisis
LASC and SEOLS staff are still hard at work advocating for the rights of low-income clients and communities.

We have advocated for better policies, represented individual clients, created and distributed COVID-specific legal information and broadened our case acceptance so that we can address any new legal issues that arise due to the pandemic. COVID-specific legal information is available at www.columbuslegalaid.org/get-help/covid-19-information and https://www.seols.org/covid-19-information/ .
Our Pro Bono Team will continue to develop new programming to engage the private bar during this time and in anticipation of the onslaught of legal work that will be necessary once court hearings resume across our service area.
In the meantime, we have also been so fortunate to continue to work with volunteers who are still accepting pro bono cases or volunteering “in house,” including our wonderful Volunteer Resource Center volunteers pictured above, who have all converted to “virtual” shifts while we operate with only a skeletal staff at each of our offices.
We will also be welcoming a new class of summer law clerks and undergraduate volunteers starting in late May, with the expectation that most volunteers will be volunteering remotely.

If you are interested in summer opportunities,
please complete our interest form.