Issue: December 2005 Issue
For the Good
While volunteering at one of the Legal Aid Societyâ€™s free clinics this summer, Hugh McKay realized a great need for legal services for the poor.
McKay, partner-in-charge of the Cleveland office of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP, wonâ€™t soon forget the woman who told him she never had anyone in the legal system listen to her.
â€œItâ€™s just a gaping hole in our system that Legal Aid is trying to fill,â€ says McKay, president-elect of the Cleveland Bar Association. â€œWe need more help. That came through loud and clear.â€
The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland has a long history of providing much-needed legal service to the poor in this community. The 100-year-old nonprofit provides free legal assistance to low-income families in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake and Lorain Counties.
In an effort to expand its services, Legal Aid began the Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) in January to encourage local attorneys to give their time and talents off the clock. Since then, more than 200 local attorneys and more than 100 law students have participated in the VLP and have served nearly 500 people.
The VLP consists of bimonthly free Saturday clinics, one each on the east and west sides of Cleveland, and a once-a-month Wednesday evening clinic. Each Saturday clinic is sponsored by a particular law firm or legal organization and gives residents a chance to ask questions and receive free legal advice. During the Wednesday evening clinics, held at Legal Aidâ€™s office downtown, attendees are paired with a volunteer attorney who oversees the case and works on it until resolved.
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