We have all heard the saying, “To whom much is given, much is expected.” In my mind, that means if you have been blessed in your life with gifts and good fortune, you should use those gifts and that good fortune to help others. That saying is the premise of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s “Lawyers Giving Back” public outreach and pro bono legal service programs. We as attorneys are extremely fortunate, and I believe that it is our duty and responsibility to help lift up the less fortunate in our community.
At the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation, we make it easy for lawyers to give back in concrete and meaningful ways. Each year, more than 1,000 lawyers and legal professionals give back to our community by providing volunteer service in our pro bono or public outreach programs. No matter what your level of experience, schedule, or interest, we have volunteer opportunities for you to share your legal skills.
Each year our colleagues volunteer their time and talents to help indigent and low income individuals in the Cleveland Homeless Legal Assistance Program, Pro Se Divorce Clinics, and the Pro Bono Bankruptcy and Bankruptcy By-Pass Programs. They help Cleveland’s vibrant arts community through the Volunteer for the Arts Program and pro bono referrals assisting artists and arts organizations. And they contribute their time and energy by helping small, grassroots nonprofits who are serving those in need in our neighborhoods in the Reach Out: Legal Assistance for Nonprofits Program.
Our colleagues also invest thousands of hours each year in Cleveland’s youth by participating in law-related education programs. They volunteer their time as part of The 3Rs ‒ Rights, Responsibilities, Realities Program where they visit area high schools to help students learn about the U.S. Constitution and develop career planning skills. They mentor students in high school and college who are interested in careers in the law through diversity pipeline programs like the Summer Legal Academy and the Stokes Scholars Programs. And they serve as team advisors and competition judges for the Cleveland Mock Trial and the Ohio Mock Trial for high school students in Cleveland and throughout Northeast Ohio. As a 3Rs volunteer since its inception in 2006, I can tell you that the lawyer volunteers get as much, if not more, out of the program than the more than 34,000 students we have helped over the years.
In addition to volunteering their time and legal skills, our colleagues also support the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation through generous contributions. The Bar Foundation uses those contributions to fund the programs listed above, and many more. Last year, our programs connected with more than 4,900 individuals in our community. In making a donation, you can select the Annual Fund, which supports the Justice For All and Diversity & Inclusion Pipeline programs, or you can choose to give to a specific program. Gifts can be made in tribute to an individual as well. You can also choose to make a sustaining gift to the Bar Foundation by becoming a Bar Foundation Fellow and supporting our Endowment.
So, if you are looking to give back to this great community where we live, work, and play, consider giving your time, talent, and treasure to the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation. Take it from me, you will be glad you did!
Patrick Krebs is a partner in the Cleveland office of Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP and is a member of the Litigation, Public Law, and Sports Law practice groups. He is the 2019‒2020 President of the CMBF, a Fellow of the Foundation, and a CMBA member. He can be reached at (216) 706-3867 or firstname.lastname@example.org.