Volunteer Lawyers Project

From left to right: Tonya Young, Elizabeth Zak, Rhonda Tucker, Laura Crosthwaite

VLP Offers Pro Bono Assistance

The Legal Aid Society and the Cincinnati Bar Association co-founded the Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor Foundation in 1982. The role of the VLPF was to provide oversight and raise funds for a new pro bono effort:  the Volunteer Lawyers Project (VLP) whose goal was to encourage volunteer participation by private attorneys to help meet the growing need for legal services for low-income families and individuals.

The VLP is the official pro bono program of seven local bar associations in Southwest Ohio.  When private attorneys join the VLP, they agree to take two cases a year to assist low-income clients pro bono.  Over 600 attorneys have signed up with the VLP. Each year, they handle over 1300 cases pro bono for the VLP and Legal Aid.

The VLP is led by Legal Aid of Greater Cincinnati Managing Attorney Elizabeth Zak.  She and Pro Bono Coordinator, Rhonda Tucker, work closely to match the referred cases with Volunteer Attorneys.  Legal Aid staff conducts intake screening of applicants and refer eligible clients to volunteer attorneys. Legal Aid attorneys provide back-up to volunteer attorneys on substantive matters. Legal Aid paralegal staff also provides support for the VLP’s Divorce and Wills Clinics.

For more about the VLP: http://vlpcincinnati.org/


The VLPF makes two annual awards for Volunteer Lawyer of the Year each year in partnership with the Cincinnati Bar Association and the Butler County Bar Association. Here are the most recent winners:

The Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor Foundation is pleased to present the Butler County Lawyer of the Year to Stephen M. Bernat, a partner at McCaslin Imbus & McCaslin L.P.A. With his abiding dedication to helping as many in need as possible, Steve has accepted over 100 pro bono referrals since 2007. 

Congratulations to Stephen M. Bernat!


The Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor Foundation is pleased to announce Arthur J. Southard as the 2018 Volunteer Lawyers of the Year. Since accepting his first VLP referral five years ago, Arthur has accepted 16 case referrals to assist clients in Hamilton and Butler Counties and conducted five uncontested divorce clinics, helping more than 50 low-income individuals obtain a divorce.

Congratulations to Arthur J. Southard!


The Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor Foundation is pleased to announce Susan M. Schreiber as the 2018 Butler County Volunteer Lawyer of the Year. In the last eight years, Susan has accepted 28 cases, assisting victims of domestic violence gain freedom from their abuser and have the opportunity to start a safe, secure new life.

Congratulations to Susan M. Schreiber!


The Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor Foundation is pleased to announce its 2017 Volunteer Lawyer of the Year to B. Scott Boster, a partner at Ulmer & Berne LLP. Scott has taken pro bono VLP cases for over 30 years. His dedication to helping clients and his long-term commitment to the VLP’s mission are inspiring. 

Congratulations to B. Scott Boster!