The law firm of Taft increases its support of Legal Aid: 2012 Legal Aid Board President is a partner at the firm

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Adrian Thompson, Esq. speaking with a client

Taft Law attorneys have long been supporters of Legal Aid, both as pro bono attorneys and financial donors. In 2011, Taft formalized this longtime support by becoming part of Legal Aid’s “Partners in Justice” program – an effort to increase engagement among attorneys at the largest law firms in Cleveland. Brian Ambrosia, a Taft attorney and Legal Aid volunteer, reports that about eighty percent of all Taft attorneys in the firm’s Cleveland office participated in the program last year, donating more than $15,000 to Legal Aid. “I was pleased with the willingness of our attorneys and staff to participate in the “˜Partners in Justice’ program and in doing so support a great organization that is dedicated to pursuing a wonderful cause,” Brian says.

Attorneys at Taft have also supported and participated in Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program. One example – Adrian Thompson, a partner at Taft, helped organize a Legal Aid clinic at a Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) location. Sixteen attorneys from Taft volunteered at East Tech. Mr. Thompson worked with Louise Dempsey, a member of the CMSD Board, to prepare the event and help his firm give back to the community. Mr. Thompson says the event achieved such success because of the team approach and excellent preparation of all involved.

This was not Mr. Thompson’s first encounter with Legal Aid. In fact, he has a significant history of support and service. In 1986, Mr. Thompson began his career as a Legal Aid staff attorney just after graduation from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Now a partner at Taft, Mr. Thompson serves on Legal Aid’s Board of Directors. And in late 2011 – exactly 25 years after his job interview at Legal Aid – Mr. Thompson was elected President of the Legal Aid Board of Directors for 2012. Mr. Thompson knows intimately the need for Legal Aid and similar programs which provide support to low-income families. In his hometown of Willard, Ohio, he was in the first class of 4-year-olds in the country to participate in Head Start back in the 1965. He attended Bowling Green State University on a scholarship before going on to law school.

As Board President, Mr. Thompson wants to inform the community about Legal Aid’s services, history and purpose. “The need is there,” Adrian says as he points out some sobering statistics. “The poverty rate in Cleveland is a staggering 34%, for example. Nearly 400,000 low-income people live in poverty and qualify for Legal Aid services in Northeast Ohio.” He also plans to keep a watchful eye on federal funding, look for new sources of funding, and help engage the community for assistance. The support of Taft “is a great start,” says Adrian. His thoughts are echoed by Stephen O’Bryan, managing partner of Taft’s Cleveland office – “as a legal community, we have an obligation to make certain everyone has access to justice. Adrian is a great leader for this effort.”

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