Connecting Cleveland with the Law

The CMBA is committed to connecting legal professionals with members of the public who need their help through its Justice For All initiatives.  To see if you are eligible for assistance from a JFA program or for more information, please call (216) 696-3525 or email, or click on the program title for further details.

If you need legal advice but do not qualify for a JFA program, you may seek an attorney through the CMBA’s Lawyer Referral Service at (216) 696-3532 or The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland at (216) 687-1900 if you cannot afford to hire an attorney.

"I was blessed with the ability to have a legal career, and I believe I have an obligation to pay it forward and help someone less fortunate in life." --Jennifer Himmelein, Cavitch Familo & Durkin Co.,LPA; Family Law Section and Pro Se Divorce Clinic Leader

Community Service Programs

The 3Rs and 3Rs+

The 3Rs: Rights ● Responsibilities ● Realities is an award-winning program connecting legal professionals with high school students in the resource-challenged Cleveland and East Cleveland schools. Our volunteers help foster a better understanding of the law and our justice system, as well as help students prepare for life after high school. Through The 3Rs+, volunteers can connect with students beyond the classroom through mentoring, field trips, career shadowing, and sharing information about college and career planning.

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High School Mock Trial Competitions

Volunteers assist high school students participating in annual mock trial competitions as legal advisors, helping teachers and students fine-tune their legal skills, and also as judges at the competitions. The CMBA hosts the District and Regional Ohio Mock Trial Competitions, in partnership with the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education, for over 800 students from high schools throughout Northeast Ohio. In addition, we partner with the Cleveland Municipal Court to coordinate a unique Cleveland Mock Trial Competition each spring for over 500 high school students from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

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Speakers Bureau

The Speakers Bureau is a public service to educate the community about the law and our justice system. Our speakers respond to requests from the public for volunteer presenters on a variety of legal topics and for a variety of audiences, including schools, civic centers, business groups and senior citizens.

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Pro Bono Programs

Cleveland Homeless Legal Assistance Program

Through Cleveland Homeless Legal Assistance Program (CHLAP) volunteer lawyers and other legal professionals provide service at regularly-scheduled brief advice and intake sessions in shelters and community centers across Cleveland, advising those in need but least able to access legal assistance.  Volunteers can help by staffing intake sessions and/or by agreeing to accept referrals for pro bono matters needing follow-up legal service.

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Pro Se Divorce Clinics

Created in partnership with The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court, the Pro Se and Pro Se “Plus” Divorce Clinics are designed to provide access to justice for eligible individuals in need of a simple divorce. Volunteer legal professionals assist pre-screened clinic attendees in understanding the paperwork and process of securing a simple divorce.  The CMBA's Family Law Section provides leadership and guidance to volunteers.

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Reach Out: Legal Assistance for Nonprofits

Reach Out was developed to provide both law-related education and pro bono legal service to qualifying nonprofit organizations serving those in need in our community. Through a partnership between the CMBA; the Association of Corporate Counsel, Northeast Ohio; and the Federal Bar Association, Northern District of Ohio Chapter, Reach Out presents quarterly education seminars and brief advice clinics for nonprofits, free of charge.  Lawyers can volunteer to help in three ways: as speakers at the education seminars, by providing brief advice and counsel at the clinics, or by accepting referrals of matters needing transactional pro bono legal services. Nonprofits must meet financial, geographic and mission criteria to qualify for pro bono referrals.

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Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA)

The VLA aims to serve local artists and arts organizations through pro bono legal help to those who qualify, free public education, and promotion of the arts among the legal community. VLA volunteers provide real benefits for the city’s growing and vibrant arts scene.

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Bankruptcy Pro Bono Project & Bankruptcy By-Pass Program

Volunteer lawyers can assist eligible individuals with debtor-creditor issues through two programs coordinated in partnership with The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.  The Bankruptcy Pro Bono Project trains and supports volunteer lawyers as they provide pro bono legal representation to individuals undergoing personal bankruptcy. The Bankruptcy By-Pass Program provides free legal assistance to low-income senior citizens and others in need to resolve debtor-creditor matters where filing for bankruptcy is not an option. In both programs, clients are screened by The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

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