Ten law students from around the region are spending their summer providing free civil legal services to low-income and elderly residents of Central Northeast Ohio. Among them are three Case Western Reserve University School of Law students: Lindsay Doss, Meghan Mahaney and Scott Malbasa. Community Legal Aid's summer associates program teaches law students about the overwhelming legal needs faced by the most vulnerable members of the area's communities and helps them to understand the responsibility that comes with practicing law: Ensuring equal access to justice for everyone.
"I knew that I wanted to work on housing-related issues," says Malbasa. "When I returned to Cleveland after eight years away, the area I grew up in looked like a ghost town. I knew that I wanted to help people maintain and stay in their homes."
The summer associates also provide a valuable resource for Legal Aid staff who are constantly faced with far more requests for assistance than they are funded to provide. The summer associates work closely with Legal Aid attorneys, and have the opportunity to take part in training opportunities focused on poverty law. Doss has been working with the Volunteer Legal Services Program, Mahaney has been working on the Family Law Project and Malbasa has been assisting the housing staff.
"Our summer associates are an invaluable resource," says Executive Director Sara Strattan. "They assist our attorneys and staff with a variety of tasks, allowing our attorneys to devote more time to more cases. In the process, they are learning skills that will help them in their professional goals, and as advocates for less fortunate members of our community."
Doss has found her time with VLSP to be particularly rewarding. "The work that our department does is invaluable," she says, "because it gives busy attorneys an easy way to do much-needed pro-bono work."
Community Legal Aid has been providing a wide range of legal services for more than 50 years. Go online to learn more about the organization.
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