The National Pro Bono Celebration focuses the nation's attention on the increased need for pro bono services during these challenging economic times and celebrates the outstanding work of lawyers who volunteer their services throughout the year.
For a full calendar of Pro Bono Week activities of the CMBA and The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, click here.
JUSTICE FOR ALL COMMITTEE
The Justice for All (JFA) Committee serves as the oversight committee to coordinate and support the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s pro bono and public service programs. The variety of programs under the JFA umbrella offers volunteers abundant opportunity to provide service to the community. Many JFA programs are collaborative partnerships with legal assistance and other community service providers.
The JFA programs welcome volunteers who would like to give back to their community. To volunteer or for more information please contact Mary Groth, Director of Development and Community Programs at the CMBA at (216) 696-3525 ext. 5004.
Volunteers are also encouraged to contribute to JFA partner The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland via their Brief Advice and Referral Clinics and Volunteer Lawyers Program and Projects. Volunteer opportunities range from a two-hour commitment at a Brief Advice and Referral Clinic to presenting at a community education event to providing extended representation. For more information about volunteering with Legal Aid, please click here.
JFA programs include:
THE 3RS: RIGHTS ● RESPONSIBILITIES ● REALITIES
Launched in the 2006-07 school year, The 3Rs is an unprecedented program fostering personal connections between volunteers from the legal community and high school students in Cleveland and East Cleveland. Using a real-world curriculum focused on the U.S. Constitution and career counseling, teams of volunteers visit their assigned 10th grade social studies classes throughout the school year to accomplish the following goals:
• Improve understanding of and respect for the rule of law and our Constitution;
• Improve passage rates on the social studies portion of the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT);
• Provide practical career counseling to focus students on their potential beyond high school; and
• Improve the “pipeline” of minorities flowing into legal careers in the region.
The CMBA hosts a number of orientation sessions for volunteers - judges, attorneys, and law students - who are provided teaching materials and continuing support throughout the school year. The program requires the service of over 500 volunteers annually as it reaches more than 3,000 students in 18 high schools. The program is overseen and given direction by the 3Rs Committee of the CMBA, which includes key representatives from the school district, courts, law schools, and law firms large and small.
The 3Rs was honored among the Association’s diversity programs receiving the First Annual Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Award for Excellence in Pipeline Diversity from the American Bar Association Presidential Advisory Council on Diversity in the Profession in 2009. The 3Rs has also been received the Ohio State Bar Foundation 2008 Outstanding Program Award, the LexisNexis National Community Outreach Award in 2007 and the American Bar Association Partnership Award in 2007.
2011 marks the debut of the new 3Rs+ program, designed to further the work of The 3Rs by connecting to students in the 11th and 12th grade who desire to work with mentors for assistance with college application preparation and financial aid planning. 3Rs+ volunteers will provide one-on-one mentoring coupled with career shadowing, field trip experiences and educational programs for parents.
BANKRUPTCY PRO BONO PROJECT AND BANKRUPTCY BY-PASS PROGRAM
The Bankruptcy Pro Bono Project provides training and support to volunteer lawyers, who in turn provide pro bono legal representation to qualified, income-eligible individuals going through personal bankruptcy. The Bankruptcy By-Pass Program provides pro bono legal assistance to individuals, the majority of whom are low-income senior citizens, in resolving debtor-creditor matters in which bankruptcy filing is not an option. Both programs are partnership efforts with The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, which handles program intake and referrals.
CITIZENS LEGAL ACADEMY
The CMBA’s Citizens Legal Academy is 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 is to increase public knowledge of and appreciation for the legal system and the roles of attorneys and judges.
CLEVELAND HOMELESS LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
This partnership between the CMBA and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless aims to serve those in the community in need of help but least able to access legal assistance. Volunteer lawyers are needed to staff regularly scheduled sessions at many locations throughout Cleveland, including homeless shelters, to provide legal advice and assistance to homeless or at-risk individuals. Attorneys can volunteer at varying levels of commitment, from helping with intake interviews and providing brief advice to accepting referrals for direct extended representation.
HIGH SCHOOL MOCK TRIAL COMPETITIONS
The CMBA hosts and coordinates the Ohio Mock Trial Cuyahoga District and Regional Competitions, organized under the auspices of the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education. It also partners with the Cleveland Municipal Court and Cleveland Metropolitan School District to coordinate the annual Cleveland Mock Trial Competition, a unique event for Cleveland’s high school students. Volunteers are needed to serve as competition judicial panelists and team legal advisers. With the help of volunteers from the legal community, over 800 area high school students are provided the opportunity to hone their communication, analytical and courtroom skills each year in these programs. Volunteers are provided with training, support and case materials.
PRO SE DIVORCE CLINICS
The CMBA's Family Law Section has adopted the Pro Se Divorce Clinic, a program that serves individuals referred from the Cleveland Homeless Legal Assistance Program and from The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. Clinics are held monthly, serving 30-40 indigent individuals who are seeking a simple divorce and who have no minor children or assets, through the help of volunteer family law and Legal Aid attorneys who guide attendees through the process and paperwork without committing to any further representation.
REACH OUT: LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOR NONPROFITS
Reach Out: Legal Assistance for Nonprofits is a collaborative effort of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel - America (NEOACCA); the Federal Bar Association, Northern District of Ohio Chapter; and the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (CMBA), all of which have teamed up to develop and provide valuable law-related education and pro bono legal assistance to nonprofit organizations in Northeast Ohio whose missions focus on community service and who demonstrate financial need. Dealing with many of the same complex issues as for-profit businesses, nonprofits often have scarce resources or no budget for legal assistance. This program affords business lawyers the opportunity to give back to our nonprofit community.
The CMBA Speakers Bureau is a public service to educate the community about the legal system. The Bar receives periodic requests from the public for volunteer presenters on a variety of legal topics and for a variety of audiences, including schools, civic centers, senior citizens.
VOLUNTEER LAWYERS FOR THE ARTS (VLA)
This program aims to build a bridge between lawyers and local artists and arts organizations by helping to facilitate access to legal services and to develop law-related educational resources. VLA members serve by participating as speakers in sponsored CLE and community education programs and by providing pro bono representation to income-eligible artists and arts organizations.