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Philanthropic attorney heads successful pro bono clinic

CONTACT:  Kenneth A. Brown, OSBA, 800-282-6556 or 614-487-4426

Columbus, OHIO (November 15, 2010) –  Many of us are not able to say that we have worked on a court case that led to a change in Ohio law, but Lancaster attorney James Aranda is an exception.

Aranda, a member of the Ohio State Bar Association for 37 years, finds the most rewarding experiences during his legal career have come from working on adoption cases—a part of the law that interested him as the proud father of two adopted children, Michael and Mariellen. “It’s been extremely fascinating and rewarding to have the opportunity to play a small part in the placement of a child for adoption,” he says.

In one of his adoption custody cases, Aranda successfully argued before the Supreme Court of Ohio that grandparents do not have the right to intervene or a right to visitation when grandchildren have been adopted by a third party. As a result of the Ridenour case, the Ohio General Assembly amended the Revised Code to specifically permit grandparents and other relatives to receive reasonable companionship or visitation rights in certain circumstances.

For the past three years, Aranda has served as director of the Fairfield County Legal Clinic, a project of the Fairfield County Bar Association and Southeastern Ohio Legal Services. Every fourth Tuesday of the month, you can find him and other lawyers volunteering their time and expertise to assist community members who may not be able to afford counsel otherwise.

“It’s tremendously satisfying to see the good work we’re doing,” Aranda says. “Without free legal advice, those who come to the clinic would most likely be without counsel and at an extraordinary disadvantage for getting any kind of justice. I am very proud of our lawyers who volunteer.”

The two-hour clinic is held at The Rising House in Lancaster. According to Aranda, at times there is a line out the door of people seeking counsel. They try to see 25-30 people each month. He would like to see the clinic expand, and encourages more lawyers to get involved. “I think we have a unique opportunity as lawyers to give back, to serve and to help people and this is just another way we can do that.”

Aranda is a partner with the Lancaster law firm of Stebelton, Aranda and Snider, and still works on adoption cases, although his primary focus is elder law and estate planning. He also contracts with the Ohio Attorney General’s office to do Medicaid recovery work as special counsel.

In the community, Aranda serves as a member of the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio Board of Directors, and will be its president in 2011. He also volunteers at St. Mary’s Church and the Fairfield Area Humane Society. He stays involved in the arts and donates his time because, “These are tremendous assets for our community that have suffered greatly with decreases in funding.”

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.

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EDITORS/NEWS DIRECTORS PLEASE NOTE: A video interview with Aranda is available on the OSBA website or on the OSBA’s YouTube channel.

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