Larry Barker’s dedication as a 20-year pro bono volunteer for both the Columbus Bar Association and the Legal Aid Society of Columbus is due in part to growing up in a single-parent family and remembering the times when his mother needed the advice of an attorney but could not afford one. This experience drove him to become an attorney who is wholly committed to improving the lives of low-income individuals and families.
An attorney with 40 years of experience whose practice concentration is in real estate, probate and estate planning and small business, Larry began volunteering in 1994 for the Volunteer Guardians Program. While continuing as a volunteer guardian, he signed on to participate in the brief advice clinic at Broad Street United Methodist Church and the annual Central Ohio Homeless Veterans Stand Down. Larry also accepts pro bono cases referred from both the CBA and LASC.
Larry has used his legal knowledge to help vulnerable Central Ohio clients. He once helped adult children of a deceased parent to retain a home they had shared with that parent and also helped a veteran secure his inheritance from his mother after his sister claimed he was also deceased.
Larry is quick to note that the reward for his pro bono work comes not from public recognition for his efforts, but from the gratitude of people who often have nowhere else to turn.
“The look of gratitude or the feeling of relief expressed by a worried client with nowhere else to turn is all we need,” he said. “I could never measure how a good deed done for another person can positively affect my life, but I am a firm believer that it does and I am a better person for it.”
He believes the Columbus community is fortunate to have a bar association and legal aid program so actively involved in providing free legal services, but notes that pro bono legal services by attorneys like himself is possible only because of the support provided by CBA and LASC staff members. “Staff members of Legal Aid and the Bar Association as well as the non-lawyer volunteers who organize and spend countless hours of their own time pave the way for the lawyers to step in and provide the services needed,” he said.
What is his advice to any attorney who may be thinking about becoming a pro bono volunteer? Just do it, and don’t be discouraged by the thought that many problems experienced by low-income people can’t be solved by a lawyer. “Relieving their fears about the legal system sometimes is the best you can do,” he noted.
For more information on LASC-sponsored clinics and other volunteer opportunities, visit our Get Involved section.