Every October, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland celebrates the impact of pro bono service in honor of the American Bar Association’s “Celebrate Pro Bono Week,” Oct. 25 to Oct. 31.
Volunteers handle 20% of all Legal Aid cases and with their assistance, Legal Aid helps about 18,000 people every year across Northeast Ohio, according to a news release.
Attorneys Julie Rabin and Deborah Coleman are two participants in Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program, whose contributions over the years have been “incalculable,” according to the release.
Rabin, a partner at Rabin & Rabin in Cleveland, has volunteered with Legal Aid since 2002. As a bankruptcy attorney, she primarily works on bankruptcy cases to help clients get back on their feet.
“People are greatly helped by this fresh start that they get,’ Rabin stated in a news release. “And for me, it means using my expertise to give something back to society.’
Coleman, whose private practice, Coleman Law, is based in Cleveland, has been assisting clients facing eviction throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. One recent client was a young mother of two who lost childcare options due to the pandemic, which limited the number of hours she could work.
“Ultimately, my client lost her job and fell behind on her rent,” said Coleman, who also serves on Legal Aid’s pro bono committee. “Fortunately, we were able to negotiate a payment plan that allowed her and her children to stay safely in their home.”
Legal Aid needs more pro bono assistance to enforce the rights of the thousands of individuals and families in Northeast Ohio whose lives have been destabilized by COVID-19, according to the release.
Legal Aid has a number of support services for volunteers who may be unsure if their skills match up with the needs of Legal Aid clients. The organization’s website has a library of resources and downloadable forms that are organized by case topic, and staff are available to lend a hand and offer guidance.
“If there are any questions, Legal Aid has an expert I can coordinate with to get quick answers,” Rabin said. “I’ve actually worked with clients that don’t speak English, and Legal Aid is able to provide the translation services that are necessary.”
Attorneys looking to volunteer should visit tinyurl.com/TakeACaseToday.
“Now more than ever, I feel its vitally important that we lawyers use our skills and knowledge to help individuals and families in need,” Coleman said.