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Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association to provide legal services to those who lack access

Cleveland Municipal Court
City of Cleveland
The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association is launching an initiative to provide legal service to residents who may lack access.

The Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association is starting the next phase of a new initiative to provide legal services to those who cannot afford a market-rate attorney and do not qualify for assistance from the Legal Aid Society.

The goal of the Cleveland Legal Collaborative is to offer legal services to people who do not have easy access to legal counsel, as well as offer new lawyers the opportunity to train under seasoned professionals.

“The idea is to create a new generation of lawyers who are highly qualified and highly skilled because they are trained by the best of the best,” CEO Becky Ruppert McMahon said. “And they can provide legal services to people who are otherwise getting lost in the justice gap.”

The CMBA is currently building the framework for the collaborative by finalizing the curriculum new lawyers will engage with.

“There’s an extensive curriculum for the newer lawyers that come into this program. Over the course of their two-year commitment through this program they will be given significant practical experience,” McMahon said.

The bar association is also recruiting the seasoned professionals who will act as mentors to the younger members of the CLC, she said.

The CMBA plans to recruit the first class of new lawyers later this year so services can launch January 2024. Long term goals include extending the program past its initial two years, McMahon said. The first group of lawyers will be trained during the first two years, and she hopes to welcome more groups in the future.

“Our goal is that this becomes a program that is embedded in Cleveland under the CMBA into perpetuity,” she said. “That there will be lawyers then that go out into the legal marketplace after they complete their fellowship and continue to practice in this area.”

Services for both civil and criminal matters will be available through the CLC. Individuals who fall under 400% of the poverty line, or make between $27,000 and $60,000 a year, will qualify to seek assistance.

“Whatever the legal issue is, we know that people living paycheck to paycheck or harder than that, face insurmountable obstacles,” McMahon said, “and our goal is to help eliminate obstacles and deliver solutions that let every citizen live a high-quality life.”

Jenna Bal is a senior journalism major at Kent State University with minors in web development and English. She has experience as a reporter and editor for KentWired and The Burr.