Pro Bono News

Legal Aid 'Securing Stability' for Low-Income Clients, Report Shows (OH)

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Legal Aid 'Securing Stability' for Low-Income Clients, Report Shows

"CLEVELAND, Ohio – Legal Aid attorneys in Northeast Ohio remove hurdles for thousands of low-income clients each year.

“We think a lot about the immediate impact,” Colleen Cotter, executive director of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland said. “Did we prevent an eviction? A foreclosure? Did we make a domestic violence victim safer?”

But does that work pay long-term dividends for clients and their families? For the community?

To find out, Cleveland Legal Aid and Community Legal Aid teamed up to hire The Center for Community Solutions (CCS) to survey former clients of the two non-profit law firms. The report will be released tomorrow.

Of the 1,250 individuals who responded, more than half reported improved stability in at least one of five main areas: financial, family, health, housing and education.

  • 54 percent of the clients reported they were more stable in at least one area.
  • 15 percent of clients reported an improvement in family stability, regardless of the problem they sought legal help for.
  • 13 percent of clients reported improved stability with their health.

The report, the first of its kind measuring the impact of civil legal services, bolsters anecdotal evidence that removing even a single legal obstacle can be transformational for a client, Steven McGarrity, executive director of Community Legal Aid, said.

As an example, McGarrity cited the case of a client who was stuck in an abusive relationship before a Legal Aid attorney helped her get a divorce and a civil protection order..."

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