Julie Hoffman has been practicing law for over 20 years and is a regular participant in the Toledo Bar Association’s Pro Bono Program, providing legal advice and service without charge. Assisting those in Lucas and Wood Counties with family law matters, Hoffman enjoys helping to complete forms and draft documents while explaining legal concepts in an understandable way. Her work is much appreciated by those who run the program and by the clients she assists with their cases.
Making a difference for kids
Hoffman’s inspiration to help people and work pro bono came from her experiences with her own kids and seeing the needs of other children. When Hoffman became a lawyer in 2001, her kids were young and her practice included working in abuse and neglect cases through the CASA Program (Court Appointed Special Advocates). She was asked to help with a divorce by a neighbor and has continued to contribute her time from there. “I just always wanted to help. Whether the client in need was a mom who had no money and needed legal help or anyone else, I was in the position that I could.(help)”
She began volunteering for the Pro Bono clinic after a position opened when a lawyer who had been volunteering monthly moved away. “The system can be daunting if you aren’t part of it,” Hoffman said. After starting in Lucas County, she heard that the Wood County pro bono program was also looking for help. Now, Hoffman goes to both clinics one Friday a month to guide people through legal processes that would be unaffordable for them otherwise.
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In addition to the volunteer hours spent at the Pro Bono clinic, Hoffman has come back to doing CASA work – an effort that brings her the most joy. “You are basically the kids’ voice in court and advocating for what’s best for them is most important,” Hoffman explains, adding that being a voice for any kid in a difficult situation is the most rewarding part of the job. Despite doing all of this unpaid work for the community, Hoffman is a firm believer that everyone should contribute what they can and doesn’t seek any praise. “People should do as much good in the world as they can and are able, and I am able.”
Every year in October, to highlight Pro Bono Appreciation Month, the Toledo Bar Association (TBA) gives out the Susan L. Martin and Lavelle A. Willinger Award to an outstanding member of TBA who contributes their time and effort to furthering the Pro Bono Clinic’s mission. This year the award was presented to Hoffman, who, over the course of a year, assisted 94 clinic participants in filing for divorce in Lucas County.
Brandi Doniere, Esq., director of Pro Bono Legal Services at TBA, revered Hoffman’s consistency and dedication to the program. “I’ve been very impressed with the way Julie speaks to the clients. She’s very patient, direct, open and honest. It’s refreshing to see.” Doniere also noted that Hoffman has led the monthly clinic 18 months in a row and goes out of her way to ensure that nothing gets scheduled on her calendar to interfere with her time at the Clinic. “It’s really amazing. We’re all very appreciative of that.”
A gift to help
Hoffman is more than just a worthy candidate for this award – she’s an example of what it means to give back. “Being able to help people navigate a life situation that’s difficult, I think it’s a gift,” Hoffman said. She hopes to continue helping people in whatever way she can and encourages others to do the same.
Toledo Bar Association. 311 N Superior St. 419-242-9363. toledobar.org