FREE Criminal and Eviction Record Sealing & VIRTUAL Expungement Clinic Planned

LASC Joins SCORE Ohio Coalition to Host CQE Webinar

LASC partnered with SCORE Ohio, the Ohio Poverty Law Center, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and others to host a webinar about fair-chance hiring and the Certificates of Qualification for Employment (CQE) process. CQEs help people with criminal records obtain employment by providing assurance to employers about the holder’s employability. A CQE holder has voluntarily gone through an intense review process by Ohio rehabilitation officials, a court of common pleas, and other officials.

The webinar brought together employers, CQE holders, social justice advocates and reentry experts who discussed the challenges of the reentry process and benefits of CQEs. Panelists talked candidly about the process and impact of second-chance hiring. “As a professional, we need to really openly accept and admit our biases around justice exposure,” said Craig Stewart, director of human resources for the Mid-Ohio Food Collective. “If we don’t do that it’s not going to be successful for us. We’ve got to put aside stereotypes and beliefs that we’ve been given that individuals who are justice exposed are not going to be successful in the workplace. I can assure everybody on this event today that that is not the case.”

CQE holder Joey Green shared that obtaining a CQE has empowered him to take on exciting professional and volunteer opportunities. “I feel like a load has been lifted off of me, that I can go in any direction I want to go in,” said Green, who works as a program coordinator for the Columbus Urban league’s Reentry program. “I’m confidant whatever door I knock on will open for me.”

The webinar concluded with a call to action for the employers in attendance to pledge to offer meaningful opportunities to individuals with justice exposure.

 A recording of the webinar is available here.

Legal Aid Offering CLE on Representing Low-income Tenants in Eviction Court

TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2020
12:00 PM—2:00 PM
Live Interactive Webinar
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
This Live Interactive Webinar is designed to prepare volunteer attorneys who provide critical representation to low-income tenants in eviction proceedings in Central and Southeastern Ohio.

Staff attorneys from the Legal Aid Society of Columbus will discuss the Tenant Advocacy Project (TAP). TAP participants in Franklin County volunteer for specific weekday clinics to provide first cause-only representation to tenants onsite at eviction court.

Attorneys interested in volunteering in any county in the service area of the Legal Aid Society of Columbus or Southeastern Ohio Legal Services are welcome to join us for this CLE.

Read more about the CLE.

As a result of changes made during COVID-19, volunteer help for TAP will be needed more than ever, as we prepare for eviction hearings restarting in June, 2020.

Our Office is Temporarily Not Accepting Walk-ins

Our office is temporarily not accepting walk-ins because of coronavirus concerns. This policy will be in effect until further notice.  We’re sorry for this inconvenience.  For time sensitive matters, please call 614-241-2001 or 1-888-246-4420 to determine whether additional help is available. We are adding services to address critical needs.

Continue to check this page for future updates.

Some Brief Advice Clinics Canceled Due to Coronavirus

Update: All Brief Advice Clinics cancelled until July 15.

Due to concerns related to the Coronavirus, Legal Aid made the difficult decision to cancel the following Brief Advice Clinics:

Crossroads UMC clinic on March 12
Grove City United Methodist on March 14
First English Lutheran Church on March 26
Broad Street United Methodist Church on April 2
Clean Slate Clinic on March 18

We are also canceling the VA Brief Advice Clinic at the Chalmers P. Wylie VA Ambulatory Care Center until April 16.

If you have a time sensitve legal issue that cannot wait until the next clinic, please call one of our intake lines–614-241-2001 or 1-888-246-4420–to determine whether additional help is available. We are adding services to address critical needs. Please refer back to this page often. We will be posting updates as the situation changes. 

WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE AND APPRECIATE YOUR PATIENCE WITH US AS WE TAKE PRECAUTIONS TO PROTECT YOU, OUR VOLUNTEERS, AND OUR STAFF.

 

Fresh Start Gala Celebrates Fifth Anniversary with Record Attendance

The legal community came together Wednesday evening at Porter Wright for LASC’s Fresh Start Gala, which raises funds for the Bankruptcy Pro Bono Program. During the event, LASC debuted a new video highlighting the work of the program that helps people keep their lights and heat on during winter, make strides toward reinstating their driver’s licenses and stop wage garnishments.

Paramount Advantage to exit Ohio Medicaid Managed Care Program in central/southeast region

Paramount has decided to scale back the service area of its Medicaid plan. The insurance company will cease to provide Paramount Advantage Medicaid in the central/southeast region of Ohio. It will continue to serve the west and northeast regions.

The central/southeast region includes these counties: Athens, Belmont, Coshocton, Crawford, Delaware, Fairfield, Fayette, Franklin, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Knox, Lawrence, Licking, Logan, Madison, Marion, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Morrow, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pickaway, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Union, Vinton and Washington.

For Paramount Medicaid members in the central/southeast region, they will choose a new Medicaid managed care plan for their health insurance in the next few months. Paramount will work closely with members and the Ohio Department of Medicaid (ODM) to make sure members move seamlessly to their new plans in a way that is least disruptive for both members and providers. We are committed to keeping both members and providers informed through this several month transition.

For Paramount Medicaid members in the west and northeast regions,nothing will change. These members will continue to be members of the Paramount Medicaid managed care plan with the same health insurance benefits.

Paramount Medicaid Providers will remain contracted with Paramount and continue to be eligible to see Paramount members – regardless of where the member lives.

If you have questions about this notice or other issues, please call your provider relations representative. Or, call Paramount provider relations at 800-891-2542.

 

CLE Offered to train attorneys to volunteer at LASC Clinics

BRIEF ADVICE CLINICS: Poverty Law Topics for Pro Bono Attorneys

This program is designed to train attorneys with limited poverty law experience who volunteer their time at brief advice clinics sponsored by LASC. Presenters will focus on the services attorneys can provide within the scope of Rule 1.2 (c) (Limited Scope) and Rule 6.5 (Short Term Limited Legal Services). Sessions will also address how pro bono attorneys can meet the obligations of Rule 1.1 (Competence) and Rule 1.3 (Diligence) in order to provide effective assistance to their clinic clients—who, after clinic consultations, will be navigating the legal system as pro se litigants.

Agenda
9:00 – 9:15 *Brief Advice Clinics, Unbundled Legal Services, and Serving Pro Se Clients—Dianna Parker
9:15-10:00 *Issues Impacting Self-represented Litigants in Domestic Relations Cases (Includes discussion of available pro bono programs) – Stuart Itani
10-10:45 *Issues Impacting Self-represented Litigants in Landlord-Tenant Cases (Includes discussion of available pro bono programs) – Ben Horne
10:45-11:00 Break
11-11:45 *Issues Impacting Self-represented Litigants in Probate and Estate Planning Matters (Includes discussion of available pro bono programs) — Brandon Borgmann and Andrew Marvin
11:45-12:30 Consumer Law Impacting Low-Income Individuals — Melissa Linville and William Ross
12:30-12:45 Break
12:45– 1:15 The ABCs of Public Benefits Programs—Jamie Shier
1:15-1:35 Tax Issues Impacting Low-income Individuals—Melissa Skilliter and Kathy Hoover
1:35-2:30 Clinic Resources and Referral Guidance—Dianna Parker

Planning for the Future: Preparing Simple Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Advance Directives CLE Planned

This program is designed to assist volunteer attorneys and paralegals who are participating in the PACO/LASC Pro Bono Wills Clinics which are held twice monthly at different sites throughout Central Ohio.   At these clinics, attorneys talk with the clients after the paralegals prepare the documents.   Clients are provided with completed simple wills, health care powers of attorney, living wills, organ donor registry, declaration of funeral arrangements, and financial powers of attorney.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

1:30 –4:45 PM

Legal Aid Society of Columbus, 1108 City Park, Columbus, Ohio 43206

Register here.

AGENDA

1:30-1:45 — Introduction to the Wills Clinic Procedures, Dilynn Roettker

1:45-2:45 — Preparing a Simple Will, Organ Donorand Declaration of Funeral Arrangements, Paul Bryson

2:45-3:30 — Preparing a Power of Attorney, Dilynn Roettker

3:30-3:45 — Clinic Procedures and Document Formatting, Teresa Scharf

3:45-4:00 — Break

4:00-5:00 — Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will, Eileen F. Baker, MD, DNR, and POLST PhD, FACEP

FACULTY

Paul Bryson is a staff attorney on the Community Engagement team at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus. He recently transitioned to LASC from his own practice, where he advised clients regularly on estate planning and wealth transfer and represented executors and administrators in Probate court. Paul’s projects at LASC include wealth preservation and intergenerational wealth planning aimed at seniors in low-income areas of Columbus. He is admitted to the bars of Ohio, and the U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio.

 Dilynn Roettker received her J.D. from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 2015 and her B.S. from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism in 2010. After graduation, she completed a policy fellowship with the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio. Dilynn joined the Legal Aid Society of Columbus in October 2016, representing clients in areas such as Medicaid and Medicare benefits and treatment, Veteran’s benefits, educational services, Social Security, child care, cash and food assistance. Her practice also includes working with Legal Aid’s Medical-Legal Partnerships with Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Ohioans for Better Birth Outcomes. She is admitted Ohio Bar and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

 Eileen F. Baker, MD, PhD, FACEP graduated from the University of Vermont College of Medicine and completed her residency in Emergency Medicine at Summa Health System in Akron Ohio.  She earned her PhD in Applied Philosophy from Bowling Green State University.  Dr. Baker is the Medical Director of the Medical Student Ethics Curriculum at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences, and works clinically as a community emergency physician for Riverwood Emergency Services, Inc.  She is a past-president of the Ohio Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and currently serves on its Board.  Dr. Baker has published articles and book chapters pertaining to trauma, emergency medical services, and medical ethics.  Presently, she is editing a book on the topic of legal and ethical issues in emergency medicine.

 Teresa Scharf is the Director of the Wills Clinics for which the CLE is designed, Chair of PACO’s Pro Bono Committee, and immediate past-president of PACO.  She also serves on NFPA’s Pro Bono Committee and has co-represented the NFPA at the last to ABA Equal Justice Conferences.  She has fifteen years of experience as a litigation paralegal and twenty-eight years overall in the legal services profession.  She obtained her degree in Paralegal Studies, cum laude, from Columbus State in 2007.  Teresa is an OSBA Certified Paralegal and is a member of the OSBA Paralegal Certification Board.  She has received a number of awards, including the 2014 Outstanding Pro Bono Support Award from the Legal Aid Society of Columbus.  Teresa is involved in other pro bono activities in addition to the Wills Clinics.  She is a paralegal in the Business Litigation Practice and Products Liability / Mass Torts Defense groups at Ulmer & Berne LLP.

 

 

Setting the Tax Record Straight: Post-Assessment Challenges to Tax Debt CLE Planned for Nov. 7

This program will provide an introduction to helping taxpayers challenge tax debts with the IRS after they have already been assessed.  The training will take you step-by-step from selecting the right remedy, creating a challenge to the IRS, and the process from start to finish.  No tax expertise is necessary.  We will address common tax credit problems, as well as requesting innocent spouse relief.

Thursday, November 7, 2019, 1:00 pm – 4:00 PM
Barnes & Thornburg, LLP,  41 S. High Street, Suite 3300, Columbus, OH

Application has been made to the Supreme Court of Ohio for 2.75 hours

 AGENDA

1:00-1:15 Introduction: What is the LITC & What We Do; How and why you can do pro bono

– Melissa Skilliter

1:15-1:30 Audit Reconsideration – Why and when would you do this?

Megan Sullivan

1:30-1:45 Common Case Scenarios

Megan Sullivan

1:45-2:15 Process, Formatting, Tips, and Appeals

– Melissa Skilliter

2:15-2:30 Break

2:30-2:45 Innocent Spouse – Why and when would you do this?

– Megan Sullivan

2:45-3:15   Types of Relief, Elements, Availability, and Why It Matters

– Melissa Skilliter

3:15-3:45  Procedure and Timeframe for Resolution

– Megan Sullivan

3:45-3:55 Taxpayer Advocate Service—What they do and when to call them?

– Melissa Skilliter

3:55-4:00 Wrap Up and Questions

– Melissa Skilliter

Faculty

Melissa Skilliter is Director of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) in the Columbus office, a position she has held since 2008.  Through the LITC, she handles tax controversies with the IRS, including U.S. Tax Court cases, examinations, and other cases before the IRS.  She joined SEOLS in 2005 as a staff attorney in the Zanesville office.

She has been licensed to practice law in Ohio since 2004.  She is admitted to practice in United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio and the.  United States Tax Court.  She earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 2004 and an LLM in Taxation from Villanova University School of Law in 2018.

Megan Sullivan is the managing attorney of the tax team and the Director of the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic at The Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC). She has been representing taxpayers through the Clinic for over 15 years.  She obtained her J.D. and Master of Social Work at The Ohio State University in 2002 and her LLM in Taxation from Villanova University School of Law in 2019. Megan serves on the Steering Committee of Move to Prosper and the Leadership Team of the Financial

Registration

This training is free to any attorney currently participating in (or committed to participate in) a Pro Bono program through the Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC) or Southeastern Ohio Legal Services (SEOLS).  All others should submit a $110.00 fee.

To register, please complete an online form here:  https://oslsa.wufoo.com/forms/w12nt7qx0mx5o5y/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LASC annual forum to address early childhood education

 

The Legal Aid Society of Columbus announces the theme of its second annual community forum. This year’s program, which is sponsored by PNC, will discuss improving access to affordable, quality early childhood education in order to increase economic opportunity for low-income families. Panelists include LeeAnne Cornyn, Director of Children’s Initiatives, Office of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine; Erik Karolak, CEO of Action for Children; Brenda Rivers, Senior Vice-President of Early Childhood and Family Services, Child Development Council of Franklin County, Inc. and Tiffany Williams, a preschool parent. United Way of Central Ohio President and CEO Lisa Courtice will moderate.

Please join us from 8 to 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019 at The Wells Barn at Franklin Park Conservatory, 1777 E. Broad Street, Columbus, 43203. Breakfast will be served. Tickets are $25. Register here by Oct. 11.

New Website Provides Ohioans with Free Legal Information

Ohio Legal Help (www.ohiolegalhelp.org), a website created to help all Ohioans access the civil justice system by providing free information on common legal issues, court and other legal forms and referrals to legal aid and bar association referral programs, formally launched today.

Ohio Legal Help provides plain language legal help information, interactive self-help tools and connections to local legal and community resources to help Ohioans resolve their legal issues. All content is reviewed by lawyers, to ensure the website is easy to understand, action-oriented and accurate.

“The Supreme Court’s Task Force on Access to Justice recommended in 2015 that Ohio develop a statewide website that provides free and accurate legal information and standardized forms,” said Supreme Court of Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. “Ohio Legal Help is that website and will increase access to justice for all Ohioans.”

“Following from the recommendation of the Supreme Court’s Task Force on Access to Justice, a steering committee of judges, private lawyers, legal aid lawyers, librarians, clerks of court and domestic violence advocates representing various Ohio stakeholder organizations was convened to develop a website for Ohioans who needed legal information,” said David Kutik, Ohio Legal Help board president. “This comprehensive process, which resulted in the creation of the Ohio Legal Help website, has ensured that Ohio Legal Help will meet the diverse needs of potential users.”

To lay the groundwork for Ohio Legal Help, the steering committee commissioned a survey of potential users. Eight hundred Ohioans responded to the survey. Half of the respondents made less than $30,000 per year. The survey showed that costs and confusion of dealing with legal issues were most frequently cited as barriers to accessing the legal system. Sixty one percent of survey respondents believed that they needed more legal education and 68 percent strongly supported a legal access portal website.

Ohio Legal Help addresses these concerns with straightforward legal information that helps Ohioans resolve legal problems in common, critical legal areas, such as housing, family, consumer and income maintenance. The website’s mobile-first design will meet users where they are, and the tailored, personalized approach will ensure that users only receive information and referrals specific to their individual needs.

“By providing free assistance addressing some common legal issues, Ohio Legal Help will allow more Ohioans to advocate for themselves in the civil justice system,” said Kate McGarvey, executive director of the Ohio State Legal Services Association, the umbrella organization that includes the Legal Aid Society of Columbus. “More help is needed because funding constraints prevent legal aids from serving everyone seeking our help.”

Ohio Legal Help is expected to attract more than 300,000 users in its first year. The information available on Ohio Legal Help is free. Ohioans can visit the site at www.ohiolegalhelp.org.

About Ohio Legal Help

Funded and developed through supporters including the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Ohio State Bar Foundation, and the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, and developed by stakeholders including the Ohio Judicial Conference, the Ohio Clerk of Courts Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Alliance of Ohio Legal Aids, the Consortium of Ohio County Law Libraries, the Ohio Library Council and the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, Ohio Legal Help leverages online innovation to improve justice and fairness for all Ohioans. Ohio Legal Help removes barriers to the law so that Ohioans can understand their legal options, make informed decisions and connect to local legal and community resources.

 

OPLC Report Finds Driver’s License Amnesty Initiative Helped Thousands of Low-income Ohioans

COLUMBUS, Ohio—More than 76,000 Ohioans participated in the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ Amnesty Initiative, a six-month pilot program which waived eligible driver’s license reinstatement fees for low-income individuals, according to Moving Forward, a report released today by the Ohio Poverty Law Center. Intended to address the barriers keeping thousands of Ohioans from getting a valid license, the Amnesty Initiative created an opportunity for legal aid organizations to partner with the BMV, Child Support agencies, Job and Family Service offices, volunteer attorneys and local judges and clerks to assist individuals in taking part in the program. The groups hosted free clinics around the state where those with suspended license could receive a personalized plan for getting back on the road legally.

The program was beneficial for drivers and the state, said Ohio Poverty Law Center staff attorney Megan O’Dell. Low-income Ohioans saved more than $63 million during the Amnesty Initiative and the BMV collected $3.6 million in fines and fees. “The Amnesty Initiative was a great first step in addressing the more than three million pending license suspensions in the state,” she said. “The program was eagerly received by organizations that routinely see how difficult it is for people without driver’s license to get to work as well as the government agencies that are able to assist people in getting valid. While thousands of people were assisted, it’s clear that the need for amnesty still exists.”

The Amnesty Initiative provides opportunities for people to move forward with their lives, said Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Jodi Thomas, who participated in the Franklin County clinic.

“Many of the cases that come in front of me are traffic cases for driving without a valid license. The majority of these individuals have gone years without a license because they did not know the steps to take to get a license. Most of these people had accrued so many fees putting them in a hole with no way out. The Amnesty Initiative not only helped waived fees for indigency, but it also brought together agencies and resources that could restore their license.”

The spirit of cooperation among the entities organizing the clinics was remarkable, said Perry County Municipal Judge Dean Wilson. He helped organize a clinic in his rural county, where about 85 percent of the people who come before the court are indigent. “As a member of the OSBA Board of Governors involved with policy and legislative tracking, I was well in-tune with what the objective of the program was. I saw its success in Franklin and Perry counties,” he said. “Receptiveness is what makes the program work. When everyone is on board with the mission and works together to help these people reinstate, it makes a significant impact.”

Gwendy Holloway, a Newark resident who attended a clinic in Licking County, had 20-year-old fines that were preventing her from getting a license and was unclear how to address them. The BMV waived $700 in fees and she left the clinic eligible to take her driver’s license test. “I hadn’t been able to pay on those for years,” she said. “The clinic was good. There were a lot of people there ready to answer questions and help.”

Ninety percent of individuals that sought help through the program, which ran from Jan. 31 to July 31, received it. Suspensions related to alcohol or drug abuse or a deadly were not eligible for the Amnesty Initiative. Individuals who receive SNAP benefits were eligible for fee waivers. The average waived per person was $1,270. Individuals who do not receive food assistance were eligible for fee reductions. The average reduction was $789.

About OPLC
The Ohio Poverty Law Center’s mission is to reduce poverty and increase justice by protecting and expanding the legal rights of Ohioans living, working, and raising their families in poverty.

CLE Planned to Prepare Volunteers to Assist with the the Seniors Referral Project

PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE: PREPARING SIMPLE WILLS, POWERS OF ATTORNEY, AND ADVANCE DIRECTIVES

Thursday, September 26, 2019
9:30 AM–12:15 PM
Office of the Ohio Attorney General, 150 E. Gay Street, Columbus, OH
Application has been made to the Supreme Court of Ohio for 2.50 CLE Credits, including .5 hours of professional conduct (designated with *)

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
This program is designed to assist volunteer attorneys and paralegals who are participating in the Seniors Referral Project, which matches low-income seniors seeking estate planning and advance directives help with pro bono lawyers from the Office of the Ohio Attorney General and private sector. Attorneys and paralegals help low-income seniors with their basic estate planning documents, including simple wills, health care powers of attorney, living wills, organ donor registry, declaration of funeral arrangements, and financial powers of attorney. The training will conclude with a 30 minute discussion of the importance of pro bono service and access to justice, including feedback from current volunteers.

AGENDA
9:30-10:00—Probate Avoidance
10:00-10:30—Preparing a Simple Will
10:30-10:45—Break
10:45-11:15-—Advance Directives
11:15-11:45—Practical Considerations and Referral Procedures
11:45-12:15*—Access to Justice, the Importance of Pro Bono Service, Current Volunteer Input

REGISTRATION
This training is free to any attorney currently participating in (or committed to participate in) a LASC or SEOLS Pro Bono Project. All others should submit a $110.00 fee.
To register, please complete an online form:

Unless a hard copy is specifically requested, materials will be e-mailed to participants in advance of the training. Thank you for helping us save resources!

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