Volume 12 November 2020
Pursuing Justice, Changing Lives
In this issue: Volunteer Spotlight, Pro Bono Award Highlights, CLEs and an LASC Report.

Volunteer Spotlight: Katie Cornelius-Blume
Attorney has served low-income clients in rural communities

Katie Cornelius-Blume has been a dedicated contributor to SEOLS over the past three years. First as a member of the Chillicothe office staff and now as a pro bono attorney, Katie has demonstrated a commitment to service and a fervent passion for advocacy.

Katie was born in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011 where she received a Bachelor of Science degree. After college, she spent three months enrolled at the Goethe Institute in Berlin, Germany, and then worked at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC as an Academic Researcher in the museum’s Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. After her tenure in Washington, she earned her Juris Doctor in 2016 from the University of Cincinnati.

Upon graduation from law school, Katie joined the SEOLS Chillicothe office and then later entered private practice, where she currently works as an Associate Attorney at Dagger, Johnston, Miller, Ogilvie, and Hampson, LLP in Lancaster, specializing in civil litigation and trial level criminal defense and appellate advocacy.

In private practice, Katie remains dedicated to assisting those who are disenfranchised and is committed to combatting systemic injustices.

“Individuals should not be denied equal access to the justice system and/or zealous legal representation because they are indigent. I chose to go to law school to help combat and mitigate systemic racial, gender, socioeconomic injustices that continue to plague our country. While I chose to leave the non-profit world and become a private attorney, I remain passionate about these systemic injustices,” Cornelius-Blume said.

In reflecting on her experiences, Katie states that far too many of her clients have never felt heard or adequately represented. She has come to understand how the power of pro bono work extends into various aspects of clients’ lives.

“I hope that more folks realize the impact that pro bono help can have, not just for people’s legal issues, but for clients’ overall well-being and understanding of their acceptance and agency in our communities,” she said.

Katie has previously helped with the Fairfield County brief advice clinics that SEOLS co-sponsors with the Fairfield County Bar Association, and in 2019, she was an essential contributor to the SEOLS driver’s license clinic in Lancaster. During the pandemic, Katie continues to donate her time through the SEOLS virtual advice clinics. While her own contributions are impressive, Katie also uses her voice to encourage other lawyers to get involved. “It’s not hard. You can generally commit to whatever you feel comfortable with and fits within your schedule. SEOLS and LASC are constantly in need of pro bono help. The demand for pro bono legal assistance will unfortunately only increase due to the likely financial and economic devastation related to COVID-19” she said.

“Katie is a true pro bono champion who is deeply invested in access to justice, and we are so fortunate that she continues to support this important work,” said OSLSA Pro Bono Director Dianna Parker.

When Katie is not working, she spends time with her husband, dog, and cat. She is also an avid runner. Under different, safer circumstances, Katie is often trying new restaurants and traveling; however, due to the pandemic she is spending a significant amount of time attempting to hone her French bakery and pastry skills.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can use your unique legal skills to help clients residing in Fairfield County, email SEOLS Pro Bono Coordinator Patricia Vargas-Vegas at pvegas@seols.org.
LASC Study Reveals Lack of Attention to Veterans’ Claims of Racism in Discharge Upgrades

Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC) Staff Attorney Karin Nordstrom in collaboration with the National Association of Minority Veterans (NAMVets) conducted an investigation to examine potential disparities among veterans' claims of racism. The study found that the military boards charged with addressing veterans’ discharge upgrade requests grant claims on the basis of racial discrimination at a lower rate than their overall grant rate. The study, which looks at discharge upgrade decisions between 2010 and 2020, reveals that upgrades based on racial trauma occur in fewer than 17 percent of the cases—with most rates far lower.

“Given the overall low approval rate, it appears that military leaders have lost an opportunity for reconciliation of past injustices. The decisions that we reviewed from each branch of the military indicate an unwillingness to confront racial disparities,” Nordstrom says.

If you are interested in providing pro bono assistance to veterans seeking discharge upgrades, email Dianna Parker.

OSLSA's PAI Plan is Available

Ohio State Legal Services Association (OSLSA) is committed to engaging volunteers to help us serve our mission of providing civil legal aid and advocacy to combat unfairness and injustice and to help people rise out of poverty. Each year, OSLSA must assemble a “Private Attorney Involvement” (PAI) Plan, which summarizes its priorities and methods that focus on the engagement of volunteer resources. Read the plan to learn more about how OSLSA will pursue justice and change lives in 2021. Feel free to share your comments here.
New CLE Events
On Thursday, Dec. 17 and Friday, Dec. 18, LASC will host two CLE Events in partnership with the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF). The events will raise funds for PILF, which funds law students who pursue summer positions with nonprofits like LASC and SEOLS.

A Swiftly Changing Supreme Court: Over the past five years, the Supreme Court — a gradualist, incremental institution in most times — has gone through constant change. From the months before Justice Scalia's death in February 2016 to the weeks since Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the Court, there have been seven different iterations of justices casting votes. In contrast, the same nine justices were on the bench for more than a decade after Justice Stephen Breyer joined the Supreme Court in 1994. This rapid shift has led to dramatic changes in the ideology of the Court, but it also has led to changes in Chief Justice John Roberts' role on the Court and the ways in which the justices interact with each other — and the world. This program will examine those changes, their effects, and the consequences for the future.

Chris Geidner is the Director of Strategy at The Justice Collaborative, where he works with a team of lawyers, policy analysts, and communications professionals to end dehumanization and extreme vulnerability in our country. Before that, he spent a decade working as a journalist in Washington, DC, including covering the Supreme Court and criminal justice issues as Legal Editor at BuzzFeed News. Prior to moving to DC, he was a practicing lawyer in Ohio and, while in law school, editor of the Ohio State Law Journal. Register for the Dec. 17 event.

Ethics 2020 Update: Hidden Rules, Hidden Resources, and Some Important Cases Hidden in Plain Sight with Professor Arthur Greenbaum
Professor Arthur Greenbaum is the James W. Shocknessy Professor of Law at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law, where he has been a faculty member since 1980. Among other areas of expertise, Professor Greenbaum teaches and writes in the area of professional responsibility. Recent work includes pieces on the reporting of lawyer misconduct, administrative and interim suspension in the lawyer regulatory process, lawyer transfers to disability inactive status, and the ethics of lawyer assistance in the preparation of expert witness reports. He also is the co-author of a treatise on the Ohio law of professional responsibility – Ohio Legal Ethics Law Under the Rules of Professional Conduct – with the Jones Day law firm. Professor Greenbaum has served on the board of the Ohio CLE Institute, the Ohio State Bar Association CLE Advisory Committee, and the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on the Certification of Attorneys as Specialists. He presently is a member of the Columbus Bar Association’s Professional Ethics Committee and the publications board of the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility. He also is the long-time faculty advisor for, and a board member of, the Ohio Public Interest Law Foundation. Register for the Dec. 18 event.
2020 Virtual Pro Bono Reception

In case you missed our 2020 Pro Bono Virtual Reception, check out this video of highlights from the event or watch the entire ceremony.
Giving Back to Legal Aid with Cy Pres Awards
Thanks to consumer rights attorney Greg Reichenbach, the Legal Aid Society of Columbus was granted $150,000 in cy pres funds. LASC is incredibly grateful for donations like these that generously support our ability to provide life-changing services to our clients. Read more about the contribution in communication coordinator Melissa Dutton's article published in the fall issue of the Columbus Bar Association's Lawyers Quarterly.

Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Credit for Pro Bono: Important End-of-the-Year Information 
Thank you so much for your work to help low-income people in our community! Please review the following information if you have volunteered at a pro bono clinic (virtual or otherwise) or accepted a pro bono case sponsored by the Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC) or Southeastern Ohio Legal Services (SEOLS) in 2020. We have reached that time of the year when we are closing pro bono cases and tracking volunteer hours. To that end, please review the requests and instructions below, but please feel free to email Dianna Parker with questions.

CLINIC VOLUNTEERS – If you are an attorney or an OSBA-certified paralegal who volunteered at a pro bono clinic in 2020:
  • Please email Dianna Parker with “Pro Bono CLE Requested” in the subject line if you wish to request CLE credit for your pro bono hours. 
  • In mid-December, we will send you your total volunteer hours and then you will just need to complete the top half of a Form 23 and email it to her by 12/31/2020.
  • Six hours of volunteering equates to one hour of general CLE, with a max of six CLE hours for attorneys and three CLE hours for paralegals per reporting period. Partial credit under one hour of CLE is permitted.
  • If you are planning to volunteer at a December clinic that has not yet occurred, please wait until you have completed that time to ensure that you have received the maximum amount possible.  

CASE REFERRALS – If you are an attorney currently working on a pro bono case referred by LASC or SEOLS, or you have recently completed a referred case, please do the following:
  • Regardless of whether you are seeking CLE, please complete an interim (still working on the case) or final (completed the case) report by 12/31/20.
  • If you are seeking CLE credit, make sure you have uploaded a Form 23 to the report.
  • If you have already completed a case report and Form 23, your hours will be submitted in January.
  • For those of you working on multi-year cases, please note that we are not able to give CLE credit for any hours worked in 2019 if we did not submit them last year.
Please note that no CLE credit will be awarded if we do not receive the required Form 23 by December 31st. All pro bono CLE hours will be submitted to the Supreme Court of Ohio in January.
OSLSA is participating in Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1st. You can make a donation to support our work via Facebook or through our websites.