The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland combined to celebrate Pro Bono Week last week with more than 30 events.
These included free clinics on divorce, expungement, immigration and bankruptcy. The Jewish Federation of Cleveland joined by co-sponsoring a continuing legal education seminar with updates on domestic violence law.
The local finale was the 11th annual Halloween Run for Justice on Oct 27.
The race raised more than $50,000 to benefit the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation, which supports association’s pro bono and public service programs. Among its beneficiaries is the 3Rs program, which stresses rights, responsibilities and realities. It puts 500 volunteers from the city’s legal community into 10th grade social studies classes in public schools in Cleveland and East Cleveland, teaching the U.S. Constitution and providing career counseling.
Pro Bono Week aims to highlight the need for such services during challenging economic times. It reminds those most in need that such services are available, highlights their results and celebrates lawyers such as David Kutik of Avon Lake and Mickey Rabin of Gates Mills, who volunteer such services throughout the year.
Kutik has led such efforts locally since 2004, when he was president of the Cleveland Bar Association. He became president of Legal Aid Society of Cleveland in 2010 and helped found the Ohio State Bar Association’s Pro Bono Taskforce, which established committees in 12 judicial districts in Ohio. He also is involved with Bet Tzedek, working with Holocaust survivors to get benefits from the German government. The partner at Jones Day finds pro bono work highly rewarding and is involved in recruiting lawyers into such work.
“I go to the different firms and explain pro bono is a win-win-win,” Kutik said. “It’s obviously a win for the individual getting for-free legal services, it’s a win for the community because it’s good to have talented people helping out in the community, and it’s a win for the lawyer because it helps the lawyer develop his or her skills and also offers tremendous personal satisfaction,” said Kutik, a member of The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood.
Rabin was on the board of the Legal Aid Society for years. She was chair of the pro bono committee when Kutik became bar association president and chose pro bono work as his special project for the year, so making it a focal point.
Rabin is partner with her daughter, Julie Rabin Falck, at Rabin & Rabin Company, a firm that helps the Legal Aid Society guide people through bankruptcy.
“Bankruptcy has a different connotation these days; good people have fallen on hard times,” said Rabin, also a member of Temple Tifereth. “Particularly in the past five years, the economy’s hit consumers and small-business owners who have suffered terribly. We file bankruptcy, and the debt they were unable to pay is discharged. When they come out, they get a fresh start without the stress of debt hanging over their head. They’re very grateful.”
The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland hosts clinics throughout the year on a range of legal issues, and Jones Day will staff the clinic at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland, 5700 Broadway Ave.