Volunteer lawyers unit wins big grant

Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio has been awarded its second-largest grant ever from the largest bar foundation in the country.

The new $54,200 grant from the Ohio State Bar Foundation will provide a legal check-up to at least 35 nonprofits.

PBPO is a seven-year-old nonprofit that recruits and manages 820 attorney volunteers from major companies and law firms in the Cincinnati and Dayton regions who donate their legal services to help the agency work with nearly 300 mostly smaller nonprofits. The largest grant ever received by the organization was from the Dayton Legal Heritage Foundation of the Dayton Foundation – a total of $85,000 to create its Dayton program. The Dayton gift was part of a three-year grant totaling $235,000.

One of PBPO’s signature services, a “Nonprofit Legal Checkup” includes the review of a comprehensive list of potential business legal needs, often resulting in at least eight foundational legal matters to be addressed by PBPO and its expert attorney volunteers – all at no cost to the organization. 

In turn, this solidifies a strong legal foundation for each nonprofit, freeing up time, space, and funding for their leaders to do what they do best – focus on their own essential missions and communities they serve.

“By focusing our work on connecting with small, community-based nonprofits, PBPO promotes access to justice for organizations that might otherwise not have access to expert legal advice and ongoing support,” said Susan Street Whaley, PBPO board president. 

OSBF Executive Director Lori Keating said PBPO’s work is impressive. OSBF works to educate the public about the rule of law and help build a better justice system. Since 1992, the foundation has awarded over $14 million in grants statewide.

“PBPO’s growth through the years has been remarkable, and we continue to be impressed by PBPO’s commitment to building a better justice system in our state by providing access to the legal services that nonprofits need most,” she said.

Besides providing direct service to nonprofits, PBPO also provides free legal educational programs to any nonprofit in southwest Ohio regardless of their status as a PBPO client.

Erin Childs

“I have no doubt that this (grant) will create a ripple effect of service in our community, far beyond what any one of us can do alone,” said Erin Childs, PBPO Executive Director.

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