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Message from Executive Director Colleen Cotter

Posted March 18, 2020
8:42 pm

Legal Aid is responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic on several fronts. We are:

  • protecting our clients, staff and partners by closing our physical offices;
  • accessible to those in need through online and phone intake;
  • continuing to serve clients;
  • increasing community education via electronic means; and
  • advocating for client communities who are most at risk.

Legal Aid remains open at this critical time for our clients: our entire team across five counties and four offices quickly transitioned on Monday to work-from-home. In order to protect our clients, staff, volunteers, partners, and community, we quickly took steps to change some of our operations, while continuing our work.

Legal Aid’s online intake is open for clients 24/7 and phone intake is available during select business hours. Although our physical offices closed as of Monday, we remain very much open and available to provide critical legal assistance related to basic needs of shelter, safety and economic security. Our attorneys are in touch with our clients and partners via phone, text, video and email.

As part of our pandemic response plan, we have suspended all in-person intake. Through April, we have cancelled all advice clinics and all in-person events. We will make decisions about future events as we get closer to them. We are conducting all meetings via phone and video. We have just a few staff members on site each day to handle some parts of the operation that cannot (yet) be accomplished remotely.

We were able to implement these changes quickly because our infrastructure is strong, thanks to community support. We are working to leverage technology to further support and enhance our remote work, including by, for example, engaging volunteers to provide legal advice though "virtual" advice clinics. More on those developments as we implement them.

We know this is a time of uncertainty and confusion, so we increased legal education posts on Twitter, Facebook and our website. As always, knowledge is power, and uncertainty about one’s rights and options contributes to stress and can delay or deny needed access to important supports. We will continue to expand this community education as new issues arise.

Finally, we continue to be a catalyst for community change for our client communities who are most at risk during this crisis. Yesterday we urged the Ohio Supreme Court to take important actions to "flatten the curve" while still ensuring important court functions in Ohio continue. We believe we can and must reach this balance in our courts and our community. Read more at this link and please share within your networks:

In the upcoming weeks, we anticipate an increase in requests for service related to debt/bankruptcy, employment law, unemployment compensation, wage theft, housing stability and domestic relations. We will need your help in meeting this need. Please:

I believe in our community. I believe we will pull together and reduce the impact of this pandemic – both through social distancing and by supporting each other.

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