I'm a Lawyer and I want to be part of Operation Legal Help Ohio

As many service veterans return from their deployments overseas and reenter the civilian population, they find jobs scarce and their military skills in low demand. As a result, these veterans may switch from the fighting elite to the general poor. Like many among the low-income community, these veterans find it difficult to pay their rent. They run up credit card debt and are chased by creditors. The job they left to go and serve their country is no longer available when they return. And the loving young married couple that existed before deployment finds - 1 and 1/2 years later - that neither is the same and the marriage is not sustainable. Some can't achieve the veterans benefits they feel entitled. As a result, many American heroes quickly find themselves in the middle of our civil justice system without the resources to retain a lawyer for assistance.

We of the legal community are among the millions of Americans who have significantly benefited by these warriors’ willingness to voluntarily put themselves in harm's way. In a very real sense, we could say that they have already paid their legal fees.

Operation Legal Help Ohio (OLHO) is set up to connect low-income veterans (and some current servicemembers) with volunteer lawyers willing to represent them pro bono in matters of landlord/tenant evictions, credit card debt, employment law, estate planning, uncontested divorce and dissolutions, and veterans benefits appeals. Veterans we serve stretch from the Korean era through the current Mideast conflicts.

Why would we create this program when pro bono legal services are already available in the state through the legal aids and otherwise? For these reasons: (1) many service men and women are proud contributors to this country, too proud to call Legal Aid, (2) Legal Aids are stretched thin now and don't have sufficient capacity to serve the legal needs of all low income veterans, and (3) it is anticipated that many in the legal community - particularly former servicemen and women - who have not yet offered pro bono service to legal aid will step forward to assist America's veterans.

OLHO is working in concert and partnership with all of Ohio's legal aid societies to insure our veterans receive the legal services they deserve.

We are asking Ohio's lawyers to provide access to justice for low-income veterans through pro bono service. OLHO is seeking lawyers willing to represent up to two veterans per year without fee. Lawyers who have already committed similarly legal aid or other legal service providers are not being asked to double their volunteer activities; OLHO will be coordinating with legal aid to share the volunteer commitments.

If you are interested in providing service to OLHO, please fill out and submit the form below. OLHO is also working to develop Continuing Legal Education classes to train lawyers offering pro bono representation in areas they do not specialize. Please forward this message to other lawyers you know who might be interested in volunteering. Thank you for your time!

Mike Renner, Executive Director
OPERATION LEGAL HELP OHIO
(614) 236-6769
mrenner@mvlap.org

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