Volunteer Profiles: Kari B. Coniglio and Luis A.Carrion
April, 2011 — Kari Coniglio and Luis Carrion, attorneys at Benesch, significantly contribute to Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program (VLP). Ms. Coniglio graduated from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 2006. She served as a clerk for Judge Arthur Harris of the Northern District of Ohio Bankruptcy Court before joining Benesch’s Business Reorganization Practice Group. William Kohn (now deceased) was volunteering for Legal Aid. Mr. Kohn, who was Ms. Coniglio’s practice group leader, approached her for assistance. Ms. Coniglio quickly stepped in to help disabled and financially disadvantaged clients avoid bankruptcy.
Lauren Gilbride, a VLP staff attorney, praises Ms. Coniglio’s efforts: “Kari has been an integral partner in the program’s success from its inception. She has led Continuing Legal Education events and has volunteered in every Will Kohn Bankruptcy By-Pass Clinic in the last two years.”
Luis Carrion’s involvement with the Volunteer Lawyers Program is part of an unconventional path to law. He worked as an engineer for twelve years, then entered law school. Mr. Carrion settled on a field which was a natural transition from engineering – patent law – and joined Benesch after his 2007 graduation from Cleveland-Marshall. Despite an immediate admiration for Legal Aid’s work, Mr. Carrion was unsure of how he could contribute to Legal Aid’s mission: “I always knew I wanted to get involved with Legal Aid but my legal expertise is in a field that is not particularly directed to the average person.”
Eventually, Mr. Carrion also found a niche with the Will Kohn Bankruptcy By-Pass Program. He also regularly volunteers for Brief Advice & Referral Clinics. Observes VLP Managing Attorney Ann McGowan Porath: “Luis’ fluency in Spanish is invaluable at these clinics. His help is a wonderful example of commitment to pro bono.”
Mr. Carrion relates the story of a client who had to abandon a successful career due to injury. She had also co-signed a loan for a relative who had defaulted on the loan. He muses, “I was really moved because some people hold stereotypes about the people we serve. It could be anyone.”
Ms. Coniglio agrees. She remembers a recent Chapter 7 pro bono case: “My client was the same age as me. It made me realize how lucky I am and how important it is to give back because you never know what can happen. We see people who had it all before something unfortunate happened and they lost everything. It definitely teaches you not to take anything for granted.”