November 8, 2013

Pro Bono Wills Clinics Mark Milestone

by Teresa Scharf

In May 2010, the Pro Bono Committee of the Paralegal Association of Central Ohio launched an effort to provide pro bono legal services in the Columbus and Central Ohio area. What started out as an idea has evolved into a successful outreach to senior citizens that has served literally hundreds of individuals. Working in collaboration with the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, the group reached a milestone last week by conducting its 50th Wills Clinic.

The program is unique in many ways. It is a traveling clinic, assembling volunteers at different locations and providing documents such as Simple Wills and Financial POAs, along with advance directive documents (Living Wills, Health Care POAs, and Organ Donor designations) to low-income residents at senior citizen housing facilities where they live.

The Wills Clinics have engendered the participation of attorneys, paralegals, and law students, who work side-by-side to construct the documents, counsel the clients, and guide them in executing the documents. Equipped with laptop computers, wireless printers, paper, and other supplies which have been donated by law firms and legal support vendors such as process servers, court reporting firms, and others, the services are provided at no cost. The group even has an I.T. specialist who attends every Wills Clinic event and sets up the equipment before the legal professionals arrive on site. To enhance the professionalism of the services offered, every attorney and paralegal who participates must attend a CLE that is designed specifically for Wills Clinic volunteers.

In the last three and a half years, the Wills Clinics have enjoyed the participation of dozens of volunteers conducting one or two clinics each month. Collectively, 509 individuals have been served and 1,525 documents have been generated. The value of legal services provided to date is $297,950.

If you are interested in learning more about Pro Bono Wills Clinics, the contact email address is ProBonoColumbus@gmail.com.

Teresa Scharf