New Year, Fresh Start With Help From Legal Aid

Happy New Year! With a new year is an opportunity for a fresh start and The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland can help!

Legal Aid has been offering free civil legal services to those with low incomes (up to 200% federal poverty guideline) since 1905 – the fifth oldest legal aid organization in the United States. Legal Aid serves residents in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Lorain counties. Legal Aid cannot assist with applications for benefits or criminal cases.

Call Legal Aid if you need help with:

  • Housing: foreclosure; eviction; landlord/tenant issues; utilities; public housing
  • Work: unemployment compensation; IRS tax issues; sealing criminal records; securing a valid ID or professional license
  • Money: loans (school, payday, auto, debt); public benefits (food stamps, energy assistance, cash assistance, supplemental security income); bankruptcy
  • Family: domestic violence; divorce; custody; immigration; education; estate planning
  • Health: medical bill collection; access to medical records; Medicare and Medicaid; marketplace tax credits and penalties 

Legal Aid was able to help Tiffany (name changed to protect privacy). Several years ago, Tiffany was arrested for domestic violence, but was never charged or convicted. Unfortunately, the record of that arrest continued to appear on background checks, interfering with her ability to gain employment. Tiffany’s Legal Aid attorney researched the situation, contacted the arresting law enforcement agency, and asked them to request that the Bureau of Criminal Investigation seal the records regarding Tiffany’s arrest. Some time later, Tiffany’s Legal Aid attorney received confirmation from the arresting law enforcement agency. Tiffany’s arrest record had been sealed as requested, giving her the fresh start she was seeking.

Legal Aid provides more detailed information on these topics on our website. Go to, click on “Services & Resources”, then “Legal Resources” and choose a topic.

Legal Aid attorneys provide one-on-one consultation at Brief Advice Clinics. These brief clinics are held in libraries, community centers and other trusted sites. Some are based on a first come, first served basis while some are by appointment only. For more information on our brief clinics, go to, click on the “Events” tab, then “Clinics.”

Attorneys also represent clients at court and administrative hearings and go into the community to educate residents regarding their rights and the services that are available to prospective clients. 

If you have quick questions regarding tenants rights and rental housing, call the Tenant Info Line at 440-210-4533 or 216-861-5955. For quick questions regarding employment, unemployment and student loans, call the Economic Justice Info Line at 440-210-4532 or 216-861-5899.

Help is also available by calling Legal Aid at 888-817-3777 during normal business hours or by applying online 24/7 at When speaking with a Legal Aid intake specialist be sure to have income information and necessary documentation related to your legal issue on hand. If English is not your first language, Legal Aid can provide interpreters and translation. Legal Aid also uses the Ohio Relay Service to support those who have a communication limitation.

To request an outreach/education event or materials for your community group, email:

Tonya Sams is the Development & Communications Manager at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

Tonya Sams

Tonya Sams, Development & Communications Manager at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

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Volume 20, Issue 2, Posted 1:15 PM, 01.24.2024