As a life-long resident of the Columbus community, David Bloomfield, Sr. has shown time and again a willingness to give back to his community. While participating in the legal clinic during his last year at the Ohio State University (now Moritz) College of Law, David was assigned to the Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC), and a career dedicated to service was born.
Although his small firm Bloomfield and Kempf, LLC focuses specifically on immigration law, David has addressed the civil legal needs of the poor in Columbus in a variety of ways. He has a long history of pro bono participation with both Legal Aid and the Columbus Bar Association. While more than forty years have passed since his time in the legal clinic, he still regularly assists LASC at several of its pro bono brief advice clinics, including the YWCA Family Center, Broad Street United Methodist Church, and Jewish Family Services sites. In the summer of 2015, David joined the in-house group of volunteers with the Volunteer Resource Center and also committed to serve as a mentor for LASC’s new Naturalization clinic. Last year alone, David attended more than 19 clinics and donated more than sixty hours to clients in need.
David’s pro bono experiences have taught him about the challenges of working with clients in poverty. In one such case, he assisted an immigrant client who had been homeless for the past five years and quickly learned how challenging even basic communication between the attorney and client could be when one lacked an address and reliable phone. After more than four years of advocacy on behalf of his client, David was able to secure critical Social Security benefits and life-changing healthcare services, including cataract surgery and nutritional assistance. With his newfound stability, the client then moved from the daily crisis of homelessness into a group home. Despite the enormous challenges inherent in the representation, David saw first-hand the enormous positive impact of legal advocacy for the poor.
David insists that his experience with LASC and pro bono clients is not only fulfilling but also helps him to be a better lawyer. “I frequently encounter legal issues that are not presented in my own practice,” he admits. Nonetheless, he acknowledges that it is not easy for a lawyer to find time to perform pro bono work. His best advice to those who are hesitant is to take the leap of faith, then enjoy the personal and professional rewards. “In a nutshell, try it, you’ll like it. As a new attorney you have the chance to meet a lot of clients who really need your help. Pro bono work gives you a chance to experience advising clients first-hand. Your communication skills are honed, and you become more savvy about asking the appropriate questions. You are also more attuned to those clients who do not disclose the complete story and learn to ferret out the relevant facts.”
One of the most memorable moments of David’s career came when he worked on multiple pro bono cases at the request of an immigration judge. The judge asked him to take on deportation cases requiring travel to Orient, Ohio, every two months to defend up to thirty clients at a time. In recognition of his efforts, David received the esteemed U.S. Department of Justice “Meritorious Public Service” award in 1996.
David’s story is one of many that exemplify the manner in which enthusiastic lawyers can have a lasting impact in our community. With decades of service already under his belt, David still retains his regular commitment to ensuring access to justice for vulnerable individuals and families in Columbus and we are immensely grateful for his dedication.