“I’m sure I have a lot to learn.”
Despite her extensive civil litigation experience and twenty years with the Ohio Attorney General’s office, these were the words retired lawyer Peggy Corn used when she first reached out to LASC in 2015 to express an interest in volunteering. Two years later, as one of the first LASC pro bono attorneys who will be applying for the newly created “Emeritus Status,” Peggy has become an active and valuable contributor to the LASC/Paralegal Association of Central Ohio (PACO) Wills clinics.
“When I was practicing law for a living, I often met people who needed legal representation in civil cases but couldn’t afford it,” Peggy recalls. However, at the time “I hesitated to do pro bono work because I thought the time commitment would be incompatible with the long hours and unpredictable schedule of litigation.” When she retired, she decided to volunteer with LASC. In retrospect, she realizes that one of the available limited scope opportunities would have been manageable and wishes she had started earlier.
Although she was open to a variety of projects, Peggy was drawn to the PACO Wills clinics that travel to Central Ohio senior living facilities. Since joining our pool of highly committed pro bono attorneys, she has volunteered at fifteen clinics, helping at least nineteen seniors prepare and execute their estate planning documents. The experience has been fulfilling: “Mostly [the clients] are forthright and funny, and full of surprises. They always thank the paralegal or law student and me for our help. It’s an honor to work with them.”
PACO President and Wills Clinic Coordinator Teresa Scharf’s opinion on Peggy is simple: “We love Peggy! We truly appreciate Peggy’s contribution to our effort, and love it that she continues to serve and utilize her professional expertise now that she has retired from full-time lawyering.”
Through her pro bono work, Peggy has learned the importance of preparing for the future. “Working through the end-of-life documents can be grim, but my clients don’t appear to fear dying. They do feel strongly about not having their death needlessly prolonged, so executing documents like a living will and health care power of attorney gives them some peace of mind.” And the clients, in turn, bring Peggy a lot of enjoyment. “The best part is that during the lulls while documents are being revised or we’re waiting our turn for a notary, we talk and often laugh, a lot.”
This month, Peggy resolved to avail herself of the new Emeritus Rule, which creates a new status and significantly reduced registration fee for retired and non-practicing Ohio attorneys who commit to only provide free legal assistance through recognized pro bono programs like LASC and Southeastern Ohio Legal Services. For more information about the new rule, check out the new video here.
To her fellow retirees and attorneys who shy from pro bono work because of a fear of the time commitment, Peggy has some advice: “What I know now is that LASC’s range of volunteer opportunities makes it possible to participate even if you can’t make a major time commitment. So they should check it out. I should have done that earlier myself.”
Better late(r) than never, and we are happy to have you now Peggy!
If you are new to LASC and interested in participating as an Emeritus Attorney, complete our Attorney Interest Form here.