The Ohio State Bar Association, a voluntary association with a membership of
about 29,000 lawyers, judges, paralegals and law students, is the recipient
of the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation’s 2012 Presidential
Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Delivery of Pro Bono Legal Service. The
award is being presented to the Association during its Annual Convention, held
this year in Cincinnati.
The Presidential Award is given annually to
individuals, law firms or organizations that have made outstanding contributions
to improving access to legal representation through pro bono or volunteer
service to low-income Ohioans.
The state bar association is being
recognized for its early involvement in the foreclosure crisis, teaming with
other statewide entities to recruit and train pro bono lawyers to represent low
income individuals and families in danger of losing their homes.
That effort—now known as Save the Dream
Ohio—resulted in recruitment of 1,300 volunteer lawyers, the single largest
pro bono project ever seen in Ohio.
The OSBA also
partnered with the Foundation to create and support the Judicially-Led Appellate
District Pro Bono Project, in which committees of judges and lawyers promote and
lawyers perform pro bono legal services for low income people in each of Ohio’s
12 appellate districts.
That project recruited over 150 judges and
lawyers to serve on the appellate district committees, and developed 26 new pro
bono projects serving low-income Ohioans.
Lawyers who have served as OSBA presidents have included pro bono service as a
theme in messages to attorneys, and many are themselves volunteers for legal aid
programs in their communities, including current president Carol Seubert Marx
“Both the volunteer leadership and the staff
of the state bar association continually reinforce the importance of pro bono
service as a core professional value,” said H. Ritchey Hollenbaugh, a partner in
the Columbus law firm of Carlile, Patchen & Murphy LLP and the Foundation’s
The Ohio General Assembly created the Foundation in
1994 to fund and to enhance civil legal aid for low income Ohioans. The
Foundation uses no general revenue funds, but instead utilizes dollars earned
from the interest on lawyers trust accounts, the interest on real estate trust
accounts funds, and a civil filing fee surcharge to ensure that low income
veterans, children, victims of domestic violence and people facing foreclosure
have access to legal information, advice and representation.