Frank R. DeSantis Works for Social Justice as Legal Aid’s New Board President

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“You can’t have a true justice system unless everyone has access to it,” says Thompson Hine Partner Frank R. DeSantis, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland’s new Board President.

As a young lawyer, Mr. DeSantis volunteered for Legal Aid with his firm. He took one volunteer case after another, feeling the satisfaction of resolving just one problem for some of the city’s most vulnerable people. The experience demonstrated for him how Legal Aid operates at the center of numerous challenges faced by the poor and vulnerable: health, finances and employment, housing and education.

“I enjoy being involved in non-profits, and I like to be really involved,” he says, modestly adding he usually steps up to serve as president, where he can model his commitment to equality and justice and lead by example. His interests include civic organizations like Bellflower (now part of the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center) and Hospice of the Western Reserve; religious institutions like the Jesuit Retreat House and St. Mary’s Seminary; and professional organizations like Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation.

Mr. DeSantis holds a law degree from Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA and an MBA from Gannon University in Erie, PA, giving him the edge in complex civil and business litigation. “My background is ethics and professionalism so I believe you serve your clients best by a cooperative as opposed to a confrontational approach,” he says. He serves as chair of his firm’s ethics committee, often handling cases concerning legal ethics and legal malpractice, and develops professionalism CLEs for local lawyers through the CMBA.

As Legal Aid’s newest President, he hopes to inspire broader support for the organization. “We get a great deal of support and we have a great relationship with the legal community, but we need to expand our mission to the corporate community and my goal as president is to start that process.”

He and his wife Wendy have three grown children and two grandchildren. When you see Frank, congratulate him not only on his presidency at Legal Aid, but on new grandchildren born in March.

Click here to view the full Poetic Justice Issue where this story appeared.

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