Sander, OSBA law
school liaison for Capital Law School
entered law school, I, like many of my classmates was unsure of where I saw
myself in three years. I had a vague notion that I wanted to use my future
skills as an attorney to help families in need but I was not exactly sure how I
was going to do it. I loved the law school curriculum, but I wanted to fill in
my extra time with experience and helping my community. I applied to The Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC) in January of my first year in law school.
a nonprofit law firm that provides representation to low-income individuals and
families in domestic, consumer, housing, public benefits, and tax areas, while
providing concentrated services for veterans and the elderly. LASC employs
staff attorneys, paralegals and support staff, but also relies on more than
thirty in-house volunteers who work part-time at the main office.
interviewed with Dianna Parker, current Pro Bono Coordinator of LASC. I was
offered a position to work with the Intake Team that semester and continued to
do so during my first summer clerkship. This was the beginning of what would
become the central focus of my law school career.
experience with interviewing clients and determining eligibility was very
helpful in learning the legal issues LASC provides services for and how I could
incorporate those skills with future clients as an attorney. While volunteering
with the Intake Team, I became more familiar with the attorneys and how LASC
provided representation for clients in need. If we are not able to provide
representation, LASC recommends other programs and resources for assistance.
This gave me a lot of knowledge of legal resources in the Columbus area.
working with the Intake Team, I took an opportunity to continue with LASC and
work with the Volunteer Resource Center and Pro Bono Team. In this capacity, I
have been able to see the direct impact that The Legal Aid Society of Columbus
has on the community and how it uses the resources of the private bar to expand
sponsors and coordinates a number of volunteer programs. Our pro bono work is
divided into three categories: The Volunteer Resource Center (direct referral
of housing, consumer, and unemployment compensation cases); our brief advice
clinics and brief service clinics at local churches, homeless shelters,
low-income senior facilities, and the VA); and our other case referral projects
covering tax, foreclosure, divorce, bankruptcy, and estate planning.
been working with the Pro Bono Program for the past year and a half and
currently interview clients about their cases, assess whether they are appropriate
for pro bono referral and facilitate referrals with pro bono counsel. Working
on cases in the areas of bankruptcy, landlord-tenant, consumer, estate
planning, and divorce has given me an introduction to a wide variety of legal
experience at LASC has reinforced the importance of community involvement.
Providing pro bono services allows law students and attorneys to dedicate their
energy to a demographic in need while learning and developing crucial practice
skills. I plan to continue this passion as a practicing attorney.
students, it can be difficult to dedicate time to pro bono efforts; however,
doing so enhances classroom education and helps serve the community. By giving
me access to so many talented attorneys, working at LASC has enabled me to
develop my legal research and writing skills while learning the organization
and efficiency needed to represent clients. Focusing on one’s studies and
taking law school seriously is important, but supplementing those efforts with
real-world experience that provides a tangible benefit to the community is
crucial to having a well rounded experience. Working at The Legal Aid Society
of Columbus has been an incredible experience and I encourage all law students
to explore how they can become more involved in their local legal aid programs.