Brown – 800-282-6556 or 614-487-4426 (cell phone: 614-746-2457)
Columbus, Ohio (Thurs., May 9, 2013) – Cleveland attorney Deborah A. Coleman
today received the 2013 John C. and Ginny Elam Pro Bono Award from Supreme
Court of Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor
at the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) Annual Convention in Cleveland.
The award recognizes and encourages outstanding pro bono legal work in the
state of Ohio.
a partner at Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP, was nominated by Ann McGowan
Porath, Esq., of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, who said this: “Deborah Coleman embodies the
spirit of the John C. and Ginny Elam Award with her inspiring dedication to pro bono legal work in the
state of Ohio. Receipt of the 2013 Elam Award acknowledges Deborah’s storied
legal career at Hahn Loeser in Cleveland as well as her significant pro bono contributions to the
Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.”
commitment to pro bono work
for Legal Aid is holistic. She is a regular participant in Cleveland Legal
Aid’s Brief Advice and Referral Clinics, which are held in various Northeast
Ohio neighborhoods. In addition, she accepts individual cases pro bono for clients of
Cleveland Legal Aid and recruits and trains other Cleveland Legal Aid
volunteers, as well as providing ethics training for Cleveland Legal Aid
lawyers. As chair of the Cleveland
Metropolitan Bar Association’s ADR Section, Coleman led an effort to evaluate
how its foreclosure mediation program could be improved and additional
volunteers could be recruited.
Aid’s Brief Advice and Referral Clinics provide opportunities for low-income
and vulnerable people in the community to seek advice from attorney volunteers
about their civil legal needs. Successful clinics at Legal Aid are dependent on
attorney volunteers, and Coleman is one of Legal Aid’s most frequent
volunteers, regularly staffing multiple clinics each year. Often biking to the
clinic, she arrives with bicycle helmet in hand ready to lead the charge of
helping clients at these clinics.
Coleman’s commitment to cycling includes biking to work, and enjoying
long bike rides for pleasure and to support worthy charitable causes.
commitment to pro bono work extends beyond her contribution of time as she
strives to humanize interactions between attorneys and their clients. Clients,
especially first-timers, are often fearful at these clinics, since they may
perceive that speaking with an attorney or about their legal issue may have
said, “Coleman works tirelessly to ensure that each client she sees is
comfortable and understands the process. And she has an infectiously fierce
determination, whole-heartedly seeking positive resolutions for each client she
who attend the Brief Advice clinics usually receive only the assistance that a
participating lawyer can provide at the clinic itself, but Coleman often goes above
and beyond and agrees to represent these individuals pro bono. She meets these clients
at their homes or in libraries or community centers in their own neighborhoods,
and provides practical advice and legal advocacy.
helping individual Legal Aid clients, Coleman seeks systemic solutions and,
further, defines her role in the improvement of Legal Aid services for all
clients. For example, she was a member of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Task Force
on the Rules of Professional Conduct, which recommended the adoption of two new
rules that expand the opportunities for individuals of meager means to obtain
legal services. Although her title is “volunteer,” her contributions extend
much deeper, making her an integral part of the work of Legal Aid.
was the first woman partner at Hahn Loeser, admitted to the partnership in
1984. She has been listed in Crain’s Cleveland Business as one of
Crain’s Women of Influence, and has been named to Who’s Who in American Law.
She is regularly listed in The Best Lawyers in America and Ohio
Super Lawyers Magazine, and has
been recognized in both publications for 2013. Her law practice focuses
on complex commercial litigation, particularly with regard to antitrust and
intellectual property issues. She is
also a strong advocate of Hahn Loeser’s pro bono efforts.
frequently serves as a mediator and arbitrator for complex business disputes
throughout the country. She is a member of the American Arbitration
Association’s Commercial, Technology and Large Complex Case panels; she is also
available as a regional panel member through the CPR International Institute
for Conflict Prevention and Resolution.
Her skill and knowledge as an arbitrator were recently recognized by her
acceptance to the College of Commercial Arbitrators as its first Ohio fellow. A
former chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional
Responsibility, she provides counsel on issues involving professional ethics
and is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education programs on ethics,
litigation, intellectual property and antitrust issues. She has also served as
chair of Cleveland’s Judicial Candidates Rating Coalition and has been an active member of the
OSBA Antitrust Section.
to Porath, Coleman “plays a critical role in providing justice for all, rather
than justice for those who can afford it.” Porath went on to say, “Her
commitment to pro bono and
volunteer service is of the highest standard -- one that all members of the
private bar should aspire to achieve. She makes a difference in the lives of
many individuals whose basic needs are protected only by having access to the
The John C. and Ginny
Elam Pro Bono Award was named in memory of John C. Elam, who exhibited an
abiding interest in encouraging lawyers and law firms to engage in pro bono
activities, and generously donated his own time and talents to many activities
promoting the common good and helping to ensure that the justice system is
available to all. To honor his memory, his wife, Ginny Elam, established the
award to encourage such activities by recognizing exceptional pro bono legal
work in the state of Ohio.
In addition to receiving a plaque, Coleman
also earns the right to designate an organization to receive a $5,000 grant for
service that furthers the intent of the Elam award. Coleman has selected the
Legal Aid Society of Cleveland to receive the
$5,000 from the John C. and Ginny Elam Family Fund of the Columbus Bar
Coleman her husband, Judge Dan
Polster, reside in Shaker Heights (44122).
The Ohio State Bar Association,
founded in 1880, is a voluntary association representing approximately 25,000
members of the bench and bar of Ohio as well as nearly 4,000 legal assistants and law
students. Through its activities and the activities of its related
organizations, the OSBA serves both its members and the public by promoting the
highest standards in the practice of law and the administration of justice