2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Melissa Baker Linville

Melissa Baker Linville

Name of Host Organization: The Legal Aid Society of Columbus
City, State: Columbus, Ohio
Issue area: Consumer Rights
Sponsors: Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation

The Project

Melissa provided direct representation to low-income clients filing for bankruptcy and expanded capacity by growing a robust bankruptcy pro bono program.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
Recession and slow economic growth over the past several years have sparked an increased need among low-income individuals and families for legal assistance with financial issues. Bankruptcy can provide much-needed relief to people who spiral into debt because of unemployment, medical catastrophes, or other unexpected circumstances. Requests for legal aid continue to outpace available resources in the aftermath of significant staff reductions at The Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC) and other legal services providers. Growing a network of pro bono and low bono attorneys will enable more low-income people to save their homes, stop wage garnishments, and achieve financial stability.
Fellowship Highlights: 
During her Fellowship, Melissa has:
• Provided legal assistance and counsel to people seeking advice on bankruptcy, including filing Chapter 7 bankruptcies and representing clients in adversary proceedings
• Coordinated a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy pro bono referral program
• Recruited and trained more than 150 volunteers – attorneys, paralegals, law students and others to participate in the organization’s programming
• Coordinated bi-monthly bankruptcy by-pass clinics to help long-term, uncollectable debtors draft cease and desist letters to their creditors
Where are they now?: 
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Melissa will continue her project as a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus and expand her Bankruptcy Pro Bono Program to include an adversarial proceeding component.

© 2017 Equal Justice Works - 1730 M Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036-4511