Category Archives: General News

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Judge Falkowski Recognized for Outstanding Leadership

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Lake County Domestic Relations Judge Colleen A. Falkowski is the recipient of the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation’s 2015 Presidential Award for Pro Bono Service. The award was presented April 29 at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center during the Ohio State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting and Convention.

The Presidential Award is presented 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.

Judge Falkowski was recognized for the creation of a quarterly legal clinic held in the Lake County Courthouse and believed to be the first of its kind in Ohio. The clinic helps people who cannot afford an attorney by providing legal advice and information from pro bono attorneys; assistance with filing court papers from a court clerk; and information about available resources from a mental health professional.

Developed in collaboration with The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, the clinic is open to low-income individuals residing in Lake, Geauga, or Ashtabula Counties. By agreement between Judge Falkowski and her counterparts in the two adjacent counties, a clinic participant from any of the three counties is eligible for a waiver of court costs. To date, the clinic has assisted over 100 individuals.

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, which nominated Judge Falkowski for the award, said in its nomination “Judge Falkowski is an outstanding example of how one person can improve access to justice through pro bono leadership.”

“Judge Falkowski, through her vision and leadership, has lifted up our civilized society and ensured that the promise of justice for all is a greater reality for residents of northeast Ohio,” said Kathleen M. Trafford, a partner in the Columbus office of law firm Porter Wright and president of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. “I’m honored to present the 2015 Presidential Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service to Judge Colleen A. Falkowski.”

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Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Announces 2015 Prime Partner Financial Institutions

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Image Source: Ohio State Bar Association

The Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation announced on Thursday its 2015 class of Prime Partner financial institutions: American Bank, Fifth Third Bank, Heartland Bank and Key Bank.

The Foundation created the Prime Partners Program in 2012 to recognize financial institutions offering rates and terms above the minimums required for lawyer and title agent trust accounts, known as IOLTA and IOTA accounts. Interest earned on IOLTA and IOTA accounts is a critical source of funding for Ohio’s legal aids.

In addition to preferred terms and rates, Prime Partner financial institutions also meet the Foundation’s criteria for charitable giving, employee involvement, and corporate support for Ohio Legal Aid.

Since joining the Prime Partner program in late 2014, Heartland Bank has been actively engaged in improving funding for Ohio Legal Aid. “Heartland is proud to support the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation by being a Prime Partner. Knowing that the interest generated is going to defend the defenseless in our community with their civil legal issues is very rewarding and fits our Community Bank mission to support our local communities,” said Heartland Bank President and C.E.O., G. Scott McComb.

American and Fifth Third have earned Prime Partner financial institution status for the third year, and Key Bank has attained Prime Partner status for each of the four years of the program’s existence.

“Our Prime Partner financial institutions demonstrate commitment to ensuring that all Ohioans have a legal voice and access to justice,” said Angela M. Lloyd, Executive Director for the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation. “Ohio’s legal aids value the support of financial institutions that recognize the great need of low-income and vulnerable families, seniors, and veterans in their communities, and the institutions’ dedication to helping address that need.”

Prime Partner financial institutions were promoted by the Foundation to members of the Ohio State Bar Association at the Association’s Annual Meeting and Convention, at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Sandusky April 29 through May 1.

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Access to Justice Taskforce Delivers Report

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The Ohio Supreme Court’s Task Force on Access to Justice has released its report and recommendations. Foundation Executive Director Angela Lloyd served on the task force, as did board members Richard Pogue and William K. Weisenberg.  Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown chaired the task force.

Three of the task force’s 11 recommendations urge additional funding for civil legal aid. Read more here.

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Civil Legal Aid Funding Remains Low Despite Increased Need

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In a Mansfield News Journal article on the impact of The Great Recession on the legal field, civil legal aid is cited as an available option for low-income Ohioans seeking civil legal help. Dinsmore partner and Ohio Legal Services Association Board President, Thomas J. Bonasera, adds that despite the increased need for civil legal assistance that has resulted from the Great Recession, funding for civil legal aid remains low. Read more here.