December 20, 2014

Elyria
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Lawyers get nudge to help Legal Aid

ELYRIA — The Legal Aid Society of Greater Cleveland can’t help all of the low-income clients from Lorain County that come through its doors, so the group is turning to local attorneys for help.
To the rescue comes the Lorain County Bar Association, which is trying to recruit attorneys to help take on a few cases each year free of charge to help Legal Aid.
In an effort to get attorneys on board, the bar association is offering a free class to attorneys who agree to take on at least one case pro bono for Legal Aid in the next year.  
The class, which will give attorneys 5.5 continuing legal education units, will focus on just the types of issues they’ll have to address when they do pro bono work, Kreig Brusnahan, president of the bar association.
“I’m optimistic that we’ll have at least 50 attorneys at the seminar,” Brusnahan said.
Jessica Baggett, head of Legal Aid’s Lorain County office, said the course, which will be July 13 at Lorain County Community College, will help ease the burden on her staff.
“It’ll be a tremendous help because there’s just more than we can do,” she said.
Legal Aid came under fire late last year when Elyria Municipal Court judges John Musson and Lisa Locke Graves sent a letter to the society complaining that they were seeing far too many indigent clients trying to navigate the legal system on their own because Legal Aid couldn’t help.
Since then, Legal Aid has hired new staff, including Baggett, and has worked closely with the bar association’s newly formed pro bono committee to get more local attorneys volunteering.
Brusnahan said the committee will continue to encourage attorneys to volunteer even after the seminar.
“Lorain County attorneys have a tradition of giving back to the community,” he said.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.