Volume 10 June/July 2020
Pursuing Justice, Changing Lives
In this issue: Nominations for The John and Ginny Elam Pro Bono Award, free CLE Webinar on July 30, volunteers needed for Seniors Referral Program and Volunteer Spotlight

Volunteer Spotlight: Rachel Robinson
Attorney has served low-income clients for over 20 years
 
Rachel Robinson's legal career is a testament to her dedication and commitment to serving underrepresented and vulnerable individuals.
 
Robinson grew up in Flint, Michigan, the daughter of a civil rights/criminal defense lawyer. Her father taught her the value of community service and that, in part, motivated her to become a lawyer.
 
After graduating from The University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1996, Robinson was hired as a staff attorney for Southeastern Ohio Legal Services, initially working in the Portsmouth office and then in the Steubenville office. Three years later she joined the Ohio State Legal Services Association as a state support attorney focusing on housing and consumer law.
 
Today, Robinson is a private attorney who serves as a pro bono attorney for The Legal Aid Society of Columbus. She has provided legal advice on landlord-tenant and employment issues, and various other matters, through clinics during her years as a volunteer attorney for LASC.
 
She attributes her pro bono service to her history with Legal Aid and her dedication to assisting people who are not able to pay for an attorney.
 
“When making life decisions (signing contracts, facing employment and landlord-tenant disputes), all people can benefit from the advice and guidance of an attorney,” Robinson said.
 
In 2002, Robinson joined the Equal Justice Foundation, a not-for-profit law firm that focused on impact litigation and class actions. She continued to serve through her advocacy on behalf of low-income individuals across the state.
 
Robinson now has her own law practice focused on foreclosure defense, landlord-tenant (representing tenants), the Fair Housing Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Her motto is “Representing people, fighting for justice.”
 
“I have known Rachel since we both worked for the Equal Justice Foundation, and I learned much from her about empathy for clients and creativity in litigation strategies,” said Dianna Parker, Ohio State Legal Services Association Director of Pro Bono & Community Engagement. “Now in my role with LASC, I am grateful that while she focuses her private practice on advocating for vulnerable individuals, she also finds time to donate to our program. She has been a wonderful resource for our virtual clinics, always stepping up to use her knowledge and talents to help our clients.”
 
Robinson encourages others to get involved with Legal Aid. It is such a short time commitment that goes a long way, she said.
 
What does she enjoy the most? “Being of service to people who need assistance and guidance to make choices that could have long-term consequences,” she said.
 
(To join Robinson and other Pro Bono attorneys who help with the Virtual Clinics, email Dianna Parker .)
REQUEST FOR NOMINATIONS
The John and Ginny Elam Pro Bono Award
Deadline: Aug. 14, 2020

Your input is requested in identifying candidates for the 2020 John and Ginny Elam Pro Bono Award, which will be presented in October. This award has been presented annually since 2008, with the support of the Ohio State Bar Association, the Columbus Bar Foundation and the Ohio State Bar Foundation.

Award Criteria

The award recognizes a lawyer's exceptional pro bono legal work in Ohio, which may consist of pro bono representation necessary to make the system of justice available to all, support to organizations that provide pro bono representation to indigent clients, or time and skills donated to community, governmental and other activities that promote the common good.
 
The Selection Committee seeks to thoroughly evaluate the merits of a candidate’s pro bono work. Nomination letters and materials which most fully explain a candidate’s background and pro bono efforts help the Committee to select the most compelling candidate to receive the award each year.
 
Nominees will be evaluated on their history of providing, facilitating, or encouraging the delivery of pro bono services, not exclusively legal services, to persons of limited means or to charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and/or educational organizations in matters addressing the needs of those with limited financial resources or furtherance of the entity's organizational purposes.

Suggested areas for discussion are the magnitude of the candidate’s pro bono work, the impact of the work, the context for how the work was accomplished as well as the time frame during which pro bono services were rendered.
 
The award recipient will receive recognition through the Ohio State Bar Association and the Ohio State Bar Foundation and in various legal and general interest media. In addition, the awardee will be able to designate a 501(c)(3) organization to receive a $5,000 grant from the Award Fund at the Columbus Bar Foundation.

Individuals may be nominated for the Award by the submission of an email or letter to the Award Selection Committee Chair, Honorable Jeffrey E. Froelich, Second District Court of Appeals of Ohio, 41 N. Perry Street, P.O. Box 972, Dayton, OH 45422-2170. Alternatively, nominations may be emailed to Judge Froelich.

Nominations must be received by  Aug. 14 to receive consideration by the Selection Committee. Nominations should include a brief description of the qualifications of the nominee for the award, as well as contact information for the nominee and nominator.
Free Webinar for our Pro Bono Attorneys
On Thursday, July 30, from 9 a.m.-noon, the Legal Aid Society of Columbus will host a CLE webinar opportunity for volunteer attorneys in partnership with Nationwide Insurance , Porter Wright and  the Central Ohio Association of Corporate Counsel . This training offers volunteer attorneys a free opportunity to learn about assisting nonprofit organizations.

Help Us Prepare for Pro Bono Month
Volunteers, we need your help putting together a video for our Pro Bono Awards reception in October.

Please record yourself answering the question: Why do I volunteer with legal aid? Send the videos to Melissa Dutton . Helpful Hints for recording a video:

*test your phone's audio
*keep messages to 30 seconds or less
*record in front of a solid background
*hold phone horizontally
Volunteers needed for Seniors Referral Project
We are now seeking volunteers for our Seniors Referral Project to help seniors with their wills and advance directives.
 
If you are willing to help draft documents but are uncomfortable meeting with clients in person, we could still use your help! If interested, please email Dianna Parker , Director of Pro Bono and Community Engagement.
 
We are also seeking  probate help for one client, who is on SSI and is an heir under his grandmother's will. She died in 2008, but the estate has never been probated, and the only asset is the house where he lives.

Annual Reports Available Online
The annual reports for the Legal Aid Society of Columbus and Southeastern Ohio Legal Services , as well as our sister program, the Ohio Poverty Law Center , are now complete. For years, our mission has been focused on providing civil legal aid and advocacy to combat unfairness and injustice and to help people rise out of poverty. In 2019, LASC and SEOLS achieved major accomplishments through providing services to a record number of low-income individuals and families. We are proud to reflect on this past year’s success and are excited to continue fighting for the most vulnerable throughout Ohio as we push forward in 2020.