Volunteer and Partner Profile
July, 2011 – For G. Christopher Meyer, doing pro bono work for individual clients is a refreshing change from working purely with businesses in restructuring and insolvency cases. Mr. Meyer, a partner at Squire Sanders and Dempsey (US) LLP in Cleveland, is involved with Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP) and the VLP’s Will Kohn Bankruptcy By-Pass Program.
A Nebraska native, Mr. Meyer attended Grinnell College and the University of Kansas. He went on to receive his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Mr. Meyer began his career as a corporate lawyer with Squire Sanders but also gained experience in both real estate and debtor-creditor matters. In the late 1970s he began helping a client in severe financial trouble. During a three-year period, Mr. Meyer learned a lot about bankruptcy, and the experience transformed his practice. Mr. Meyer observes, “[Bankruptcy] cuts across everything. It is the business equivalent of a life and death situation.”
Legal Aid’s Will Kohn Bankruptcy By-Pass Program assists low-income individuals for whom bankruptcy is not an appropriate remedy. Mr. Meyer calls the program “elegantly simple, in the sense that it goes right to the heart of the issue.” In most cases, Legal Aid’s communication of the facts to creditors leads to an end of harassing calls and letters to the client.
Mr. Meyer recalls a client on a fixed income who was struggling with medical bills and daily expenses. When she learned how the By-Pass program could assist her, the client burst into tears at the prospect of getting relief from collectors’ incessant calls and letters. Mr. Meyer noted that such a tangible indication of providing someone with assistance is rarely a part of a business practice and creates “a more powerful sense of helping, dealing with someone who is on the edge with nowhere else to turn.”
Legal Aid’s bankruptcy work is supported in part by a 2011 one-time grant from the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association.