Volume 1, Issue 3, March 2021
Pursuing Justice, Changing Lives
In this issue: Volunteer Spotlight, Volunteer Survey, Volunteer Opportunities, and Job Openings

Volunteer Spotlight: Sandra Carrillo

At an incredibly young age, I was taught that it was important to help others.” 
 
This month, LASC and SEOLS wish to recognize Sandra Carrillo for her active participation in our volunteer program.  Over the years, Sandra has volunteered in a variety of ways for LASC. In recognition of the growing need at eviction court due to the pandemic, Sandra has recently focused her efforts on the Tenant Advocacy Project (TAP). 
 
Her commitment to service began early. “So as far back as I can remember, I have always sought out opportunities to get involved and serve the community. Now as an attorney, I love that I can utilize my legal skills and knowledge to help others in a more meaningful way, and with LASC, there is no limit to how I can put my skills and knowledge to good use,” she explains. 
 
Prior to starting her own firm, Carrillo Law, she served as an assistant city prosecutor with the Columbus City Attorney's Office. She represented the cities of Columbus and Worthington, Franklin County townships, and the state of Ohio in the prosecution of criminal misdemeanor offenses. During her time as a prosecutor, Sandra says she gained invaluable experience in the courtroom assisting with or handling jury trials, bench trials, and evidentiary hearings.  
 
Sandra earned her law degree with a concentration in civil litigation from Capital University Law School in 2016. While there, in addition to her work with moot court and mock trial competitions, Sandra was also named to the Order of the Barristers, an honor society limited to graduating law students and practicing lawyers who demonstrate exceptional skill in trial advocacy, oral advocacy, and brief writing. She is also a two-time alumna from The Ohio State University, where she obtained bachelor’s degrees in criminology and psychology. 
 
In addition to other activities, Sandra currently serves as a board member of the St. Vincent Family Center and has been a small business owner since 2016. She is also a member of the Columbus Bar Association and a life member of Alpha Psi Lambda National, Incorporated. Additionally, Sandra is a past graduate of the United Way of Central Ohio's Project Diversity program, the Hispanic Chamber of Columbus' Latina Mentoring Academy, and the YWCA's Gen Y Leadership Program. 
 
Despite managing her own law firm and engaging in a variety of activities, Sandra still prioritizes volunteering with LASC. She recognizes the impact of programs like TAP in the community. To her, the opportunity to assist low-income clients means that she is doing her part to close the justice gap.  
 
“These programs make a BIG difference in the lives of low-income clients. Clients often come in worried and uncertain about so many things, but after connecting with a volunteer like me, they are generally able to breathe a big sigh of relief knowing that they don’t have to face the process alone,” she said. 
 
In reflecting on her experiences at LASC, she strongly encourages others to get involved. She acknowledges through various programs she has grown personally and professionally. However, most importantly she has enjoyed being able to serve the clients.   
 
Sandra, a native of Tampa, Florida, has resided in Columbus since 2004. Currently, she lives in north Columbus with her husband, Wilber, and their five pets. When she is not volunteering (or working), she enjoys as much time outdoors as possible. She and her husband also love exploring Ohio’s metro and state parks year-round.  
 
Thank you, Sandra! 
Board of Revision: Assisting Low-Income Homeowners with Property Value Complaints
LASC and the Franklin County Auditor's Office are excited to work together to support homeowners considering challenging their property values used for tax purposes. Every year by March 31, property owners can file a complaint asserting the Auditor’s office has not set the appropriate value for the prior tax year (value as of Jan. 1, 2020). In years like 2021, right after values are updated, thousands of such complaints are filed. We believe that lower-income homeowners are less likely to use this option and that connection with good advice and representation can help them navigate the process.
 
LASC is part of a pilot project of remote clinics to connect homeowners with legal professionals for pro bono and reduced fee representation for virtual hearings (typically 30 minutes). The program helps qualifying homeowners navigate the process and provides guidance about a home’s appraised value and whether one should contest the value. If you'd like to assist a homeowner with an appeal, email Paul Bryson.
Volunteer Survey

We are grateful for the many contributions of volunteers during this difficult time, but our needs continue to grow. As vaccinations become more available and the pandemic evolves, we want to ensure we are meeting clients' needs in a safe manner. In order to best serve our volunteers, we are asking you to complete a survey gauging your comfort level with different types of opportunities.


We have lots of great volunteer opportunities:

In-person Projects:

Fairfield County Tenant Advocacy Project (TAP): The TAP clinic provides free legal information, advice and representation to tenants who are being evicted. SEOLS staff and pro bono volunteers meet with tenants prior to their eviction hearings. Clinics take place on Monday and Tuesday afternoons.

Franklin County Tenant Advocacy Project (TAP)
Legal Aid offers a daily clinic for tenants with eviction hearings in Franklin County. Attorneys handle eviction hearings or negotiate resolutions, including drafting agreed entries.

TAP's efforts on behalf of Franklin County tenants facing eviction were highlighted this week in national and local news coverage. Check out this piece by PBS NewsHour highlighting the eviction problem in Franklin County and LASC's response: American renters hard-hit by pandemic juggle complicated assistance systems, eviction laws. Channel 4 in Columbus followed up with its own story: CDC eviction moratorium does little to slow evictions in Franklin County.

To volunteer for either TAP clinic, please email Dianna Parker.

Virtual Opportunities:

Family Law Brief Advice Clinic: Our "virtual clinics" continue to take place multiple times per week, and we are in need of pro bono attorneys to provide phone advice to clients, particularly those navigating family law issues. When signing up, you can select your preferred substantive areas and availability, and we will always reach out to you prior to assigning a clinic client to you. If interested, use this link.

Programs for Seniors:

Senior Referral Project: The Seniors Referral Project continues to serve low-income senior citizens and veterans who are seeking wills and advance directives. We offer volunteer opportunities for attorneys and non-attorneys with options that are both virtual and in-person. This spring, we are expanding our program to serve clients in Coshocton, Holmes, Tuscarawas, and Guernsey Counties. 
 
Clients are first screened by LASC/SEOLS and then referred to a “drafter” who will meet with clients virtually and prepare forms. Template materials and training are available. For those who are either (a) non-attorneys; or (b) uncomfortable meeting in-person with clients, LASC/SEOLS will handle the next stage of the referral to both review and execute the forms. Volunteers are essential for a smooth and efficient process. See below for details on how you can help!

DRAFTER:
  1. Options for both attorneys and law students or paralegals (forms prepared by non-lawyers will be reviewed by an Ohio licensed attorney)
  2. Drafters interview clients via telephone and prepare wills, living wills, and advance directives.
  3. Attorney drafters who do not wish to meet with clients in person can upload prepared forms to a case reporting form, and document execution will be handled by OSLSA.
  4. New volunteers: sign up here. If you’re an existing volunteer and able to help, simply email Dianna.
 
MENTOR/REVIEWER:
We currently have two opportunities for experienced lawyers who feel comfortable advising clients or reviewing prepared wills and advance directives:

  1. Form Reviewer -- In some cases, our drafters are not licensed attorneys in Ohio, so we are looking for help with reviewing the forms that have been completed prior to handing them off for execution. New volunteers: sign up here. If you’re an existing volunteer and able to help, email Dianna.
  2. “On call” Mentor -- To account for a backlog of seniors who are ready for document execution, we will be offering this service on Thursdays starting April 8, from 11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. We anticipate that some seniors may have last-minute questions before signing the forms, so we hope to have lawyers on call who can field general estate planning questions. If you wish to sign up for an on-call “shift” – please use this link or email Dianna.



Help Wanted:
SEOLS Staff Attorneys

We have openings in our Athens office and Portsmouth office for a staff attorney. Learn more about the positions, on our website.