During our 150th Anniversary year, the CBA focused on pro bono opportunities. As the Bar Association begins its 151st year, our city needs its attorneys more than ever. About 30% of our fellow Cincinnatians live in poverty. Of the 78 largest U.S. cities, Cincinnati is the fourth worst for childhood poverty, with 44.3 % of children living below the poverty line. Of the 22 children born here on a typical day, nine will grow up in poverty. That is roughly twice the state average. Until recently, Cincinnati had the fifth-highest infant mortality rate in the country.
The Bar Association continues focusing on the needs of our community through volunteer pro bono work. The usual image of pro bono legal work involves litigation; for example, representing clients in court in matters like evictions or spousal abuse. Indeed, that is one valuable form of volunteer work, but there are abundant opportunities for lawyers to contribute to the common good that don’t involve litigation or any form of adversarial proceedings. One such opportunity is serving on boards of worthy organizations.
Community service agencies welcome attorneys to their boards. You don’t have to be an expert in non-profit law. The decision-making skills that we as lawyers practice every day can make a valuable contribution to community service boards.
We have several internal opportunities for board service right here at the CBA and with the Cincinnati Bar Foundation, too. Having served on the CBA board for the last four years, I can confidently say that I feel I have helped make real difference in the way we serve and support the local legal community. Serving as president during the 150th anniversary of the CBA has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a most important career highlight. If you feel called to public service, I truly can’t recommend the CBA board enough.
The CBA board currently has several openings for positions starting May 1. See page 20 for nomination information.
When I was the CBA vice-president, I had the privilege of sitting on the Foundation board as the CBA board liaison. I saw firsthand how the Foundation helps so many deserving individuals and organizations in our community through its robust grant and scholarship programs. That feeling is unparalleled. Keep the CBF Board in mind for another great way to serve.
Other opportunities in our community abound. I had the privilege of serving on the Board of 4C for Children. 4C’s counselors assists families find affordable childcare. 4C also provides training and assistance to teachers and childcare centers to help boost the quality of care. CEO Vanessa Freytag explained that the most important value that attorneys bring to a board is not so much their legal advice but their “problem-solving skills.” Attorneys are accustomed to managing conflict and “finding common ground.”
There are countless organizations in our community whose missions are equally as admirable. I encourage you to seek out service in the sectors you feel passionate about.
Three years ago this month, we lost an American hero, Judge Nathaniel Jones. After his storied court career, Judge Jones spent several years at Blank Rome, where his corner office looked over the federal courthouse. It has become a miniature museum of sorts, a tangible expression of his unending dedication to the law. Indeed, the Nathaniel Jones Scholarship, administered by the Foundation and seeded by funding from Procter & Gamble, is a testament to his investment in legal education.
As part of our Black History Month coverage, we visited Judge Jones’ office and checked in with some of his colleagues. Get the full story, and details about this important scholarship, on the next two pages. You can also read words of wisdom from other CBA members in honor of Black History Month. Be sure to keep an eye on cincybar.org/blog in February, for a series of interviews with Black members.
Richey is a mediator with Thompson Hine and the 2022-2023 CBA president.