Citizens Legal Academy

By The People is a civics education program led by the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and coordinated in partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, Cleveland Municipal Court, Cuyahoga County, and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office. This program’s purpose is to inform and engage the public in Greater Cleveland through free, public forums on current topics such as domestic violence, the war on drugs, immigration and others. One goal of the program is to increase public knowledge and understanding of the laws and the legal system in Cuyahoga County.

By The People evolved from the former Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association initiative called the Citizens Legal Academy, which offered programs on “hot button” legal topics in 2012 and 2013.

The CMBA’s Citizens Legal Academy was a civics education program to inform and engage the public in Greater Cleveland through free public forums conducted by local attorneys and judges who will address “hot button” legal topics such as election law, immigration, consumer protection, domestic relations, foreclosure, criminal law, and others. One goal of the Academy was to increase public knowledge of and appreciation for the legal system and the roles of attorneys and judges.    


September 12, 2012
The CMBA held its first Citizens Legal Academy partnership with the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. The first in a series, this program was a panel presentation on election law and was open and free to the public. Learn more. 

October 11, 2012 
The CMBA partnered with, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Federal Trade Commission, Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to host it's second Citizens Legal Academy on consumer fraud. Law enforcement leaders and consumer protection experts were on hand to offer advice, discuss fraud trends and detail best practices for protecting our citizens. The goal was to provide the public with helpful tips on how to avoid becoming a victim and falling prey to these scams. Click here to read the full press release with all the details.

February 23, 2013
The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association held it’s third Citizens Legal Academy on immigration law at La Sagrada Familia in February. The panel presentation focused on a discussion of current laws and regulations and how they may impact immigration status. Panel members included: Megan Sprecher, Senior Attorney, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland; Sala Gembala, Immigration Attorney, Catholic Diocese of Cleveland; and Bridget Brennan, Director of Human Rights, U.S. Attorney’s Office. Judge John J. Russo, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and Carole Rendon of the U.S. Attorney’s Office served as co-chairs and panel moderators of the event.  Thank you to our community partners the Cuyahoga County Public Library, The Plain Dealer, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

After the program the CMBA partnered with The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland for a brief advice clinic where volunteer immigration attorneys were on hand to offer free legal advice to those interested. 

September 26, 2013
The CMBA held the fourth Citizens Legal Academy on the topic of protecting our children.  The program focused on a variety of relevant topics including internet crimes against children, child abuse, human trafficking and domestic violence.  The program also provided parents and care givers resources to protect their loved ones. We would like to thank our panel members:Linda Johanek, CEO of the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center; Kevin Kelley, Cleveland City Council ; Lieutenant Jim McPike, Officer in Charge of Special Victims Section of the division that consists of the Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit and the Domestic Violence Unit ; Sondra Miller, Vice President of External Affairs and Acting CEO of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center ; Carole Rendon, First Assistant U.S. Attorney, United States Attorney's Office and Judge Brendan Sheehan, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.