Profile: Intake Unit
November 2010 — The Intake Unit is Legal Aid’s triage department. When a potential client calls Legal Aid or walks into a county office, a member of the intake staff is on hand to assess the situation.
“Every call is handled by an individual.” says Margaret Terry, Senior Attorney for the department. Intake specialists interview clients, parse their information and determine if the client is eligible for Legal Aid’s services. Adds Ms. Terry, “The goal is to give the client some direction and meaningful assistance. If we don’t take the case, we at least try to send them a brochure or refer them to someone who can help.”
The largest challenge for the department is the sheer number of people seeking assistance. In a given day, intake staff in the Cleveland office speak to more than fifty potential clients. The Elyria, Jefferson and Painesville offices, where receptionists double as intake specialists, face the same issue. Ms. Terry notes the demands on the Intake Unit increased as the economy worsened, and the situation is often frustrating.
Still, intake specialists are among some of longest-serving employees at Legal Aid, with more than 150 years of combined experience. Intake Specialist Ivia Hobbs, who celebrates her fortieth anniversary with Legal Aid this fall, explains: “I’ve stuck around because of the people. Legal Aid is a very caring employer. That’s rare – and exceptional.”