United States Senator Rob Portman on the importance of Legal Aid, pro bono service, and the economy

Back

Congressman Louis Stokes, Barbara Leadbetter, Michelle Wilkerson-Guerry, and U.S. Senator Portman

Federal Public Defender Dennis Terez with U.S. Senator Portman

Ensuring access to justice for everyone is a privilege and a professional obligation, according to United States Senator Rob Portman, speaking at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland”s Annual Luncheon and Report to the Community. In his keynote speech on September 3, 2013 at Cleveland”s Renaissance Hotel, Senator Portman applauded Legal Aid on its 108-year history of helping people solve legal problems. As a young lawyer, Portman volunteered with The Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati. He urged all attorneys to work with the 45 full-time staff attorneys at Legal Aid and volunteer to take pro bono cases for low-income clients.

With 370,000 people in Northeast Ohio living in poverty, there will always be a pressing need for Legal Aid, he said, adding that “the best help is a growing economy that provides more jobs and opportunities.”

The annual luncheon is Legal Aid”s opportunity to highlight its accomplishments over the past year. With some 900 attorneys, members of the judiciary, civic leaders and elected officials and community partners in attendance, the event raised more $150,000 for Legal Aid.This year brought record sponsorship from 55 law firms and community partners.

To exemplify the broad support and cooperation that Legal Aid fosters, United States Senator Sherrod Brown recorded a video welcome for the event. Former Legal Aid Board member Congressman Louis Stokes introduced Senator Portman as a Legal Aid supporter and a longtime friend.

Colleen Cotter, Legal Aid”s Executive Director, and Ann Bergen, Legal Aid”s Board president, did a joint presentation to remind the audience that “being poor means you have far more legal problems than most of us will ever face. It means a lifetime of unavoidable debts, substandard housing, foreclosures, trouble accessing credit, uncaring bureaucracies “¦ and the hordes of others who prey on the powerless.”

President Bergen presented staff awards and honored two retiring board members: Michelle Wilkerson- Guerry, representing NEO Coalition for the Homeless and Barbara Leadbetter, representing MetroHealth”s Center for Community Health. A short video, featuring former Legal Aid client Karen Hummel, helped highlight the accomplishments of the retiring board members. Ms. Hummel was helped by Legal Aid in 1995, and today she is an accomplished attorney at Petersen & Ibold in Chardon.

With a staff of 70 including 45 attorneys and the help of 1,600 volunteer lawyers, Legal Aid handled nearly 10,000 cases last year. Unfortunately, due to funding constraints, about half of the people who are eligible and ask for help must be turned away.

Volunteer
Success Stories
Get Help
Donate
About Us
photo
The Campaign for Legal Aid
Steady growth in donor support through The Campaign for Legal Aid extends Legal Aid’s reach in Northeast Ohio.

Read More

www.ExtendJustice.org

photo
Working together to #ExtendJustice
Our leadership with The Campaign for Legal Aid will extend the reach of justice to more families in Northeast Ohio.

Read More

www.ExtendJustice.org

photo
Housing Justice Alliance
The Campaign for Legal Aid will support the Housing Justice Alliance - and we'll be the first community in Ohio to create a right to counsel when someone's home is at risk.

Read More

www.lasclev.org/HousingJusticeAlliance

  • photo1
  • photo1
  • photo1