UC Clermont paralegal program offers free legal clinics

Virtual clinics provide needed service for clients, hands-on experience for students

UC Clermont College’s paralegal program will offer a series of free virtual legal clinics to local residents this fall. The first clinic, focused on advanced directives such as health care powers of attorney and living wills, will take place Tuesday, Sept. 22 from 6-8 p.m.

The clinics, sponsored by a grant from the Ohio State Bar Foundation, offer clients the opportunity to receive professional legal assistance, with local attorneys providing support alongside UC Clermont paralegal students and faculty members. And for the 18 paralegal students participating, the clinics offer priceless practical experience.

“Our paralegal students will get hands-on experience helping real-world clients,” said David Myers, paralegal instructor and clinic director. “This kind of experiential learning provides our students with more marketable skills, increased confidence, improved job prospects and greater professional success. Plus, the UC Clermont Legal Clinic will directly serve the local community and its residents, improving access to justice and giving a hand-up to those who need it most during these challenging times.”

UC Clermont paralegal student Paul McKibben, a former journalist, said the virtual nature of the clinics, which was altered from an in-person format because of COVID-19, offers potential benefits to clients as well. Organizers are particularly hoping to reach clients in counties east of Cincinnati, such as Clermont, Brown and Highland, where residents sometimes experience economic and geographic barriers to accessing legal services.

“The remote format might not be as intimidating as walking into a lawyer’s oak-panelled office,” McKibben said. “And for students, it’s an opportunity to take what we are learning in textbooks and actually help people.”

After the September event, three additional clinics, each with a different legal focus, are scheduled: Oct. 13 – expungements; Nov. 3, domestic; and Dec. 1, unemployment. All clinics are free of charge to clients. Consultation with the paralegal will be conducted via Microsoft Teams and can be accessed from a computer or mobile device. The program will follow strict ethical requirements to protect client confidentiality. Paralegals may not provide legal services directly to the public, except as permitted by law.

For more information or to RSVP for the Sept. 22 clinic, contact David Myers at myersdj@ucmail.uc.edu or (513) 404-7887.