The Ohio Military/Veterans Legal Assistance Project (OMVLAP) is set up to connect low-income veterans (and some active duty personnel) with volunteer lawyers willing to represent them pro bono in matters of landlord/tenant evictions, credit card debt, employment law, and uncontested divorce and dissolutions. We anticipate that most veterans seeking this legal help will be from the Iraq and Afghanistan eras, however this service will be available to all Americans who once deployed with the military. OMVLAP is an evolving project - the initial pilot will focus on legal issues arising in Franklin and contiguous counties - with the hope of soon connecting services throughout Ohio.
Why would we create this new program when pro bono legal services are already available in the central Ohio pilot area through the Volunteer Resource Center (VRC) at Columbus Legal Aid Society? For these reasons:
- Many service men and women are proud contributors to this country, too proud to call Legal Aid.
- Legal Aid and the VRC are stretched thin now, let alone what would happen if veterans were encouraged through their many connective channels to use the VRC, and
- It is anticipated that many in the legal community - particularly former servicemen and women - who have not yet offered help to the VRC will step forward to assist America's veterans.
We are asking the Columbus community’s lawyers to provide access to justice for low-income veterans through pro bono service. OMVLAP is seeking lawyers willing to represent up to two veterans per year without fee. Lawyers who have already committed similarly to the VRC are not being asked to double their volunteer activities; OMVLAP will be coordinating with the VRC to share the volunteer commitments. OMVLAP is also working to develop Continuing Legal Education classes to train lawyers offering pro bono representation in areas they do not specialize. Please forward this information to other lawyers you know who might be interested in volunteering. Thank you for your time!