"I was blessed with the ability to have a legal career, and I believe I have an obligation to pay it forward and help someone less fortunate in life." --Jennifer Himmelein, Cavitch Familo & Durkin Co.,LPA; Family Law Section and Pro Se Divorce Clinic Leader

Community Service Programs

The 3Rs

The 3Rs: Rights ● Responsibilities ● Realities is an award-winning program connecting legal professionals with high school students in the resource-challenged Cleveland and East Cleveland schools. Our volunteers help foster a better understanding of the law and our justice system, as well as help students prepare for life after high school.

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High School Mock Trial Competitions

Volunteers assist high school students participating in annual mock trial competitions as legal advisors, helping teachers and students fine-tune their legal skills, and also as judges at the competitions. The CMBA hosts the District and Regional Ohio Mock Trial Competitions, in partnership with the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education, for over 800 students from high schools throughout Northeast Ohio. In addition, we partner with the Cleveland Municipal Court to coordinate a unique Cleveland Mock Trial Competition each spring for over 400 high school students from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

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Speakers Bureau

The Speakers Bureau is a public service to educate the community about the law and our justice system. Our speakers respond to requests from the public for volunteer presenters on a variety of legal topics and for a variety of audiences, including schools, civic centers, business groups and senior citizens.

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Pro Bono Programs

Cleveland Homeless Legal Assistance Program

Through Cleveland Homeless Legal Assistance Program (CHLAP) volunteer lawyers and other legal professionals provide service at regularly-scheduled brief advice and intake sessions in shelters and community centers across Cleveland, advising those in need but least able to access legal assistance.  Volunteers can help by staffing intake sessions and/or by agreeing to accept referrals for pro bono matters needing follow-up legal service.

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Pro Se Divorce Clinics

Created in partnership with The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court, the Pro Se and Pro Se “Plus” Divorce Clinics are designed to provide access to justice for eligible individuals in need of a simple divorce. Volunteer legal professionals assist pre-screened clinic attendees in understanding the paperwork and process of securing a simple divorce.  The CMBA's Family Law Section provides leadership and guidance to volunteers. To see if you are eligible for assistance through these clinics, please call Legal Aid at (216) 687-1900.

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Reach Out: Legal Assistance for Nonprofits

Reach Out provides both law-related education and pro bono legal service to qualifying nonprofit organizations serving those in need in our community. Through a partnership between the CMBA and the Federal Bar Association, Northern District of Ohio Chapter, Reach Out hosts regular, virtual panel discussions on important legal issues for nonprofits, free of charge. Lawyers can volunteer to help in three ways: as speakers/panelists, by providing brief advice and counsel, or by accepting pro bono referrals for eligible nonprofits. Nonprofits must meet financial, geographic and mission criteria to qualify for pro bono referrals.

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Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA)

The VLA aims to serve local artists and arts organizations through pro bono legal help to those who qualify, free public education, and promotion of the arts among the legal community. VLA volunteers provide real benefits for the city’s growing and vibrant arts scene.

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Bankruptcy Pro Bono Project & Bankruptcy By-Pass Program

Volunteer lawyers can assist eligible individuals with debtor-creditor issues through two programs coordinated in partnership with The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.  The Bankruptcy Pro Bono Project trains and supports volunteer lawyers as they provide pro bono legal representation to individuals undergoing personal bankruptcy. The Bankruptcy By-Pass Program provides free legal assistance to low-income senior citizens and others in need to resolve debtor-creditor matters where filing for bankruptcy is not an option. In both programs, clients are screened by The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland - call (216) 687-1900 for assistance.

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Probate Court Brief Advice Clinics

After a free CLE presentation by the Probate Court judges and magistrates, volunteer attorneys match with members of the public to answer legal questions and probate concerns. Newer lawyers may be matched with experienced volunteers.

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Say Yes to Education

Volunteer lawyers are needed to provide pro bono legal assistance to individuals and families of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. The Say Yes to Education Legal Services Task Force, led by the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, welcomes support from the local legal community. Other task force partners include Scranton Road Ministries and the Cuyahoga County Public Defender. Over 15,000 students and their families will be eligible for Say Yes legal services, including 1,800 3Rs students and hundreds more high school mock trial participants. Your assistance is needed to help the students and families of the CMSD to succeed. Volunteers will be supported with attorney malpractice coverage, necessary litigation costs, training and mentoring as needed. Attorney volunteers can sign up to take on a specific case or can register to indicate specific interests. Please contact Katie Donovan Onders, konders@clemetrobar.org with any questions.

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Wills for Veterans

Wills for Veterans is a program of the Northern District of Ohio Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the CMBA. Each year in the fall, volunteer attorneys, paralegals, and law students assist veterans and their families with basic estate planning needs pro bono. Volunteers sign up in two-hours shifts to meet with veterans at the VA facilities in University Circle to help them prepare wills, powers of attorney, and directives to physicians. Veterans should contact the VA Northeast Ohio Healthcare System beginning in November to book an appointment.

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Pro Bono Appeals - PILOT PROGRAM

The purpose of the Civil Appellate Pro Bono Program is to facilitate appellate review in matters before the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals for people who cannot afford counsel, by referring them to pro bono counsel (“Volunteer Counsel”).  People who wish to have Volunteer Counsel appointed to their case should fill out an application and email it to the CMBA at hzirke@clemetrobar.org. Submission of a form does not guarantee Volunteer Counsel will be appointed.

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