Magistrate Maria Kalis
Coshocton County Juvenile Court
“The need is huge. I see it every day with my docket.”
“More and more cases involving children services due to drug issues are being filed as third party custody actions in the Coshocton County Juvenile Court. These grandparents, relatives and friends have no idea what they need to do, and are already under a heightened financial burden by taking in children – they can’t afford to hire attorneys.”
Magistrate Maria Kalis is not alone in her observations. SEOLS has heard similar concerns from judges and magistrates across the region over the last few years. To address these concerns in Coshocton County, Magistrate Kalis worked with her judicial colleagues to launch a pro bono clinic in 2016.
Coshocton County Judges Blanchard and Batchelor, along with Court Administrator Doug Schonauer, had discussed the need for a pro bono clinic in their county for some time. In 2016, Magistrate Maria Kalis was able to bring together key players to make the clinic a reality. Her experience on the bench in Coshocton County Juvenile Court, and her many years of volunteering at the Muskingum County Domestic Relations Clinic, were instrumental in starting the Coshocton County Family Law Clinic.
Magistrate Kalis facilitated conversations between Judge Blanchard and Judge Hooper in Muskingum County. She also brought SEOLS into the conversation to help organize and support the pro bono clinic.
The Coshocton County Family Law Clinic began in June 2016, and has been a great success with a consistent volunteer attorney presence and a growing number of clients attending the clinic each month. Magistrate Kalis commented that “the local attorneys have all been phenomenally supportive of the effort and have volunteered their time and knowledge to an amazing extent for such a small bar association.”
The coordination and support provided by the Coshocton County Juvenile Court has been key to the clinic’s success. Court Administrator, Doug Schonauer, schedules attorney volunteers for each clinic. While the Court provides the space, the Court is still separate from the clinic. SEOLS runs the monthly clinic, with Brenda Canella, a legal secretary from the SEOLS New Philadelphia office, attending each clinic to coordinate client intake and pro bono attorneys.
Magistrate Kalis believes that the clinic has been a great resource for the court to refer pro se litigants to. “The opportunity to meet with an attorney, even for a short time, provides invaluable advice and assistance that the litigants won’t be able to get any other way.”
To volunteer at the Coshocton County Family Law Clinic —or any other clinic in the SEOLS service area—please express your interest here. SEOLS offers free access to its trainings, CLE credit for your pro bono hours, and mentoring to new lawyers.
Courtesy of :
Southeastern Ohio Legal Services: Pursuing Justice, Changing Lives
DECEMBER ISSUE: Volunteer Spotlight – Maria Kalis