“The most important ability for pro bono work is being able to listen to your clients to find out what they really need.”

When LASC launched its initial pro bono partnership with JP Morgan Chase in 2015, Assistant General Counsel Jed Sonstroem was one of the first lawyers to attend the Chase brief advice clinic at the Hilltop Run the Race Club. Driving 45 minutes through traffic, Jed attended seven clinics that year, always arriving with a friendly smile and an entertaining story about his weekend.

When Chase committed to its Day of Service with LASC, Jed again joined his colleagues for all four annual events, learning about and putting to use Naturalization, criminal record-sealing, and estate planning law.
And when Chase transitioned its monthly brief advice clinic from the Hilltop to the Westerville Public Library in July 2017, Jed attended every clinic that year, continuing to arrive with a willingness to listen and help.
For Jed’s kindness to clients, his generosity, and his steadfast commitment, LASC/SEOLS recognizes him in our July Pro Bono Update Spotlight.

Jed, his wife Jane, and their children lived in Wisconsin, South Carolina, and the Pacific Northwest before returning to Jane’s home state of Ohio in 2009. Currently, Jed supports Chase mortgage servicing: “In a lot of ways my work is similar to doing puzzles – we need to figure out how to put together pieces so that we comply with the law, and I really enjoy this aspect of my work”.

During his time in Seattle, Jed developed a strong interest in pro bono work. While on Washington Mutual’s legal team, he volunteered with the “Housing Justice Project.” Similar to LASC’s Tenant Advocacy Project, the Housing Justice Project provided legal advice and representation to low-income individuals facing eviction.
When he secured his position at JP Morgan Chase, Jed registered as Corporate Status, maintaining active licenses in both Wisconsin and Washington State. At first, he was restricted from providing pro bono legal services and instead served an intake function. When the Ohio Supreme Court adjusted the corporate status rule to permit pro bono representation, he quickly jumped back into pro bono work.

LASC’s Kristy Michel, who runs the current Chase clinic, is thrilled that Jed has continued his pro bono involvement: “Jed is a tremendous attorney. He always shows up with a huge smile and is willing to provide advice on any type of legal issue that is thrown at him.”

Likewise, Jed’s experience with pro bono in Columbus has been positive: “Recently we helped veterans in drafting wills, heath care directives, and powers of attorney.  There was genuine appreciation in working through one particular complex situation with a veteran and his family. I enjoy working with people from all walks of life and helping with their legal issues.  We can’t solve every problem, but often can give a person direction to help them get through difficult situations.”

Although exceptional in his commitment, Jed is no longer unique as an increasing number of corporate law departments develop pro bono partnerships with LASC/SEOLS. As a result of this exciting momentum, the LASC/SEOLS pro bono program continues to expand, most recently exploring funding for projects for Columbus-based lawyers from Chase and other corporations to provide estate planning document prep for seniors or custody hearing guidance for families impacted by the opioid crisis that has ravaged Southeast Ohio.

For corporate counsel hesitant to engage, Jed offers some assurance: “It’s a bit scary at first, since for most of us the legal issues are outside of the areas of expertise.  Going to the LASC seminars gives a great jump-start for areas such as landlord-tenant law and there is always an LASC staff member at the clinic to provide support.”

Thank you, Jed, for sharing your stories, your patience with clients, and your legal skills with our community. We are lucky to have you!

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