Legal Aid at the Library

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Scott Gladden - left (law student, University of Akron School of Law) and Doajo Hicks, Esq. - right (Sisters of Charity Health System) counsel an individual at the Cleveland Public Library's Rice Branch.

Amelia Leonard, Esq. (Ciano & Goldwasser) at the Cleveland Public Library's Eastman Branch (in collaboration with the CMBA's Women in the Law Section).

Creative partnership between the Cleveland Public Library and Legal Aid will provide better access to legal services for the community

Legal Aid’s thriving partnerships with community organizations are a vital component to Legal Aid’s mission. Legal Aid – as the only nonprofit law firm in Cleveland for low-income people – provides an important service to other nonprofits’ clients. Strategic collaborations bring Legal Aid’s services into organizations already in a close relationship with Legal Aid’s client community. Such partnerships create better outcomes for Legal Aid’s clients.

Legal Aid’s newest formal partnership is with the Cleveland Public Library system. In 2013, Legal Aid will host 12 free legal clinics at branches throughout the Cleveland Public Library system. This will provide assistance to those with legal issues in the areas where library branches are located.

Aaron Mason, Assistant Director of Outreach and Programming Services for the Cleveland Public Library, spoke of the library’s excitement to be partnering with Legal Aid. “The role of libraries is changing. [Our library] seeks to provide more services and programs in the libraries themselves. And we see a need in our daily interactions at branches across the region – our library patrons require assistance with legal issues. There is no better way to provide these services to our patrons than by partnering with Legal Aid,” says Mr. Mason.

Additionally, three community legal education presentations will be conducted at Cleveland Public Library branches throughout 2013 based on the substantive areas of law highlighted through “frequently asked questions” at the free legal clinics.

Ann McGowan Porath, Managing Attorney of Legal Aid’s Volunteer Lawyers Program, believes “this partnership means so much to Legal Aid. We meet our client community in their neighborhoods, in a familiar location. Striving to be a relevant source of assistance in their neighborhoods, the branch libraries where we have our clinics are a hub of activity for all ages. The Legal Aid clinics add another dimension to their services. And, we can introduce our pro bono volunteers to the wonderful resources offered by the Cleveland Public Library to our community.”

Amanda Soraiz (law student, Case Western Reserve University School of Law) processes an intake at the Cleveland Public Library's Hough Branch.

Leigh Prugh, Esq. - left (Portage County Prosecutor's Office) and Sherri Dahl, Esq. - right (Squire Sanders (US) LLP) at the Cleveland Public Library's Eastman Branch (in collaboration with the CMBA's Women in the Law Section).

Catherine Adinaro, Esq. (Ninth District Court of Appeals) works with a client at the Cleveland Public Library's Rice Branch.

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