Lawyer Adds Perspective on Legal Aid
David Kutik said nothing feels better than helping out someone in need, which is why he volunteers his time giving legal advice. Kutik is just one attorney who works pro bono through the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation (OLAF), which matches volunteer lawyers across Ohio with those seeking help with legal needs.
As a former president of the Cleveland Bar Association and a board member of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Kutik knows the importance of pro bono work. In 2008, he received awards from the American Bar Association and the Ohio State Bar Association for his pro bono work.
“Working with legal aid has been one of the highlights of my career,” Kutik said. “The attorneys who work at legal aid are inspiring. They’re excellent attorneys who are dedicated to helping those who could not get help on their own. To me, there is no greater calling for an attorney than to help those who can only ‘pay’ with a ‘thank you.’”
OLAF recently released an economic impact study that said volunteers like Kutik, who do pro bono work and legal aid in Ohio, have generated more than $105 million across the state through tax, earnings, and employment. The report also stated that every dollar spent on legal aid operations generated an additional 115 percent of economic activity in Ohio neighborhoods.
OLAF Executive Director Angela Lloyd said legal aid helps more than 164,000 low-income individuals each year within Ohio’s 88 counties.
“Legal aid helps not only the individual served, but the people who live down the street,” said Lloyd.
“In addition to the issues of fairness and justice, legal aid should now be looked at in light of its economic benefits, and its ability to stabilize Ohio families, neighborhoods and communities.”
“We now have hard statistical data that should fundamentally change the discussion about the importance of legal aid,” Lloyd added.
Kutik said providing pro bono work is a win for the client, the lawyer, and the community.
“The study shows what has been obvious to me for several years as I have helped to recruit lawyers to get involved in pro bono,” Kutik said. “Individuals able to access justice are better citizens and make our communities better.”
The Ohio General Assembly created OLAF in 1994 to fund and to enhance civil legal aid for low income Ohioans. Visit olaf.org for more information.