Law clinic starts year strong

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Suzanne Brittain

A current UA law student helps client fill out CQE forms.

By Grant Morgan , Arts & Life Editor

UA’s School of Law held their first reentry clinic of 2015 on Saturday, Jan. 24 in the gymnasium room of Mount Calvary Baptist Church near downtown Akron.

At the close of the Fall 2014 semester, UA’s reentry clinic program was ranked by PreLaw Magazine as one of the most innovative in the nation.

The monthly clinics are only held while school is in session and there was no clinic in December. But the month off only strengthened the clinic, as Saturday’s event attracted 107 clients along with 33 volunteers and five community partners.

“I am ecstatic with the turnout. It was one of the top-five-in-attendance that we’ve had since we’ve started the program,” said Joann Sahl, UA law professor and supervisor of the clinics. “We hope that the people who come will pass the word of what we have to offer to others [for the next clinic],” Sahl said.

Clients upon arrival spoke with Sahl and attorney Robert Nichols to determine eligibility for the clinic’s services.

After this, the clients then went to a check-in table to pick up either expungement or Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) forms.

Expungement forms remove arrest records from an individual’s official documents. CQEs help clients find work and prevent employers and licensing agencies from discriminating against those with criminal records.

Clients then worked one-on-one with current law students to complete the forms and receive any other necessary assistance.

CQE forms took the longest to complete; the steady stream of clients soon filled up the waiting area, but the community partners kept the clients busy.

These organizations included Northeast Ohio scholarship provider College Now, Summit County Reentry Network, Mount Calvary Baptist Church Nurses Ministry, Minority Behavioral Health Group, and Summit County Department of Job and Family Services.

Joyce Dillon, clinic volunteer since June 2014, was impressed with Saturday’s clinic.

“This gives me the indication that the word is getting out. The one we did last September in this same room was busy but it was nothing like it is today,” Dillon said.

Only a few clients came too late; they are the first ones on the list for next month’s clinic. Information on that can be found on UA School of Law’s website.