John Gilligan

Ice Miller LLP

We are thrilled to congratulate John Gilligan—LASC Board of Trustees Immediate Past Chair, active pro bono attorney, and Ice Miller business litigation partner—for receiving the 2017 Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Presidential Award. John is unquestionably deserving of this award as he is a leader, an advocate, and a friend to LASC.

An Access to Justice leader, John has chaired the LASC board for multiple terms, and within that role he took great successful strides to elevate LASC’s presence in the legal community. He also serves as his firm’s pro bono coordinator, enthusiastically promoting pro bono from within and engaging new litigators as soon as they join the firm.

When advocating on LASC’s behalf, he does so with the same level of involvement as any LASC staff member. Executive Director Tom Weeks summarizes John’s involvement: “During John’s presidency, I felt almost as if we had an extra staff member.  There were meetings, phone calls, late night and weekend emails.  John was initiating things, not just reacting.  He drove our strategic planning process relentlessly. He activated and energized the Board committees.  John truly stands out in the level of his commitment to the organization.” His pro bono leadership also extends beyond county lines to the OSBA Access to Justice Committee, which he currently co-chairs.

But John’s support for pro bono is not just found in high profile committee involvement, public speeches, or recruitment events. You will also find him in Court Room 11A at Franklin County Municipal Court, where he will zealously fight for the rights of the tenants referred through LASC’s Volunteer Resource Center. Although he has been able to transfer his litigation skills and experience to his pro bono work, the experience also harkens back to the beginning of his career when he worked as a public defender after graduating from UC Berkeley School of Law.

“I get to feel that I am making an immediate impact to better the lives of my clients,” John explains. “In business litigation, while we strive to win for our clients, we also know that in the event of a bad result our client can likely recover. With pro bono clients, their needs are more immediate and the stakes are higher because they cannot afford to lose.” With pro bono eviction cases, “you keep your client from having her family and her belongings tossed out on the street. You see that your work makes a huge difference.”

And the work has its own professional rewards: “Pro Bono work for LASC provides you an opportunity to do well by doing good. For trial lawyers, you get the chance to get on your feet, to make an argument, and to remember why you put in all of the hard work to become a lawyer. In John’s first pro bono eviction referral, the case went to trial. “I got to make an opening, cross examine two witnesses and make a motion to dismiss after the close of the plaintiff’s case. It made me feel like a real trial lawyer and reminded me why I went to law school.”

The need for lawyers like John to step up and help LASC cannot be overstated. John knows the need well. “Columbus is a great community, but many of our residents are having a hard time. We have the highest eviction rate in Ohio. The income disparity is large and growing. You will benefit from the experience of seeing how difficult a time some of your neighbors have without many of the resources we take for granted. You will also appreciate how much your legal skills can make a huge difference in people’s lives. Jump in. We need you more than ever.”

LASC needs you to join John and the more than 400 local lawyers who have stepped up to ensure access to justice for our vulnerable neighbors. Take the first step and complete an interest form here.

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