Porter Wright has a long and distinguished history providing pro bono legal services to the communities we serve. From the earliest days of the firm, to recent activities to aid veterans, victims of domestic violence and persons harmed by consumer fraud, the firm has endeavored to identify individuals and groups who have critical legal needs but who are unable to obtain counsel due to economic limitations.
The firm has received a number of awards for its pro bono work, including the Columbus Bar Foundation’s highest award for outstanding pro bono service on three occasions. In 2019, the firm was named to the Public Interest Law Initiative’s Pro Bono Recognition Roster for its work in Illinois and, in 2017, it received the Southwest Florida Federal Bar Association’s pro bono award. In a ceremony in Cleveland in July 2017, the Legal Services Corporation gave special recognition to the firm for its “commitment to providing equal access to justice” through its pro bono efforts with the Ohio State Legal Services Association. Two of our partners have also received personal recognition for their pro bono efforts, and one of the firm’s paralegals has been the guiding force for a drop-in legal clinic in downtown Columbus.
Though our lawyers and professionals engage in a diverse portfolio of pro bono cases each year, much of our work concentrates on the rights of children and families. In addition to those areas, the firm each year tackles matters related to fair housing, bankruptcy, veterans’ affairs, immigration, consumer fraud and constitutional due process violations. The firm also continues to assist in death penalty appeals.
Porter Wright settled a class action immigration case with the USCIS it filed on behalf of its pro-bono client and a class of 75,000 workers. Approval notices were issued to the workers but there was a lengthy backlog to print the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which led to many losing their jobs. In the settlement, the USCIS agreed to print the required documents within established time frames, and to allow the applicants to present the approval notice as sufficient documentation until the printed document was produced.
Porter Wright helped found the Ohio Military/Veterans Legal Assistance Program (OMVLAP). The purpose of OMVLAP is to provide pro bono (or, in some instances, “low bono”) services to veterans or active duty military personnel who cannot afford counsel. OMVLAP is now a statewide operation, and has served hundreds of clients in its few years of operation.
The firm has devoted thousands of pro bono hours in recent years in support of voting rights on behalf of The Northeast Coalition for The Homeless (NEOCH). The firm’s efforts have contributed to significant decisions relating to absentee and provisional ballots.
At the request of the federal court in Columbus, the firm has successfully represented a number of persons on a pro bono basis who have claimed their constitutional rights have been violated. Our efforts in one such case resulted in an elderly man being properly released from prison.
The Cincinnati and Dayton offices have joined forces recently to work with The Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio to provide legal services to economically disadvantaged families in Southwestern Ohio.