Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati: History

Well-written and designed black-and-white 106-page book on the history of the seventh legal aid society formed in the US. Written by a local history professor focused on social justice who knows the city well.

Item details

Focus organization: Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati
Publisher: Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati
Date (approx.): Oct 1, 2008
Actual title: "To Secure Justice and Protect the Rights of the Needy: A History of the Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati: 1908-1988"
Creator: Casey-Leininger, Casey F.
Collection: Organization histories
Format: Book
State: OH
Law type: Civil
Content availability: Full text: PDF here
File: Download
External link:
Last modified: 2023-01-02 12:06


Brief history from website

The Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati was founded in 1908, to secure justice for and protect the rights of the needy, to promote measures for their assistance, and employ attorneys to further the purposes of the Society. For 110 years, the Legal Aid Society has made a difference in our community by providing free civil legal assistance to low-income families and adults to help them achieve economic security and family stability.

Legal Aid has grown from a one-attorney office on West 9th Street, to a regional non-profit law firm serving lower-income families in seven southwest Ohio counties: Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland and Warren.

In 2007, the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati established an affiliate, Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, LLC, to better serve the Southwest Ohio region. Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati receives funding from the Legal Services Corporation while our affiliate, Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio, LLC, does not. All requests for assistance are handled through a central reception and intake system managed by Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati.

Book Conclusions

Although this history has recovered portions of the story of the Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati, there are numerous areas where documentation was absent and the record remains silent. For example, documentation reveals little about the impetus for the founding of the Society in late 1907, though we can speculate that it was part of the Progressive impulse of the pre-World War I era and perhaps tied to the local reform movement that coalesce din the Charter Committee of which Murray Seasongood and Walter Knight were important members. Nor does the historic record explain why the Society ceased its legislative advocacy in the post-World War II period even though it had an over 30-year history of such advocacy by the endow the war. Other, no doubt, important parts of the story remain missing or obscure, as well.

But what this history does do is show that in the eighty years between Cincinnati Legal Aid’s incorporation and the Lawson – Asbury transition, the Society both was transformed and maintained important continuities. George Silverman, Walter Knight, Sarah Grogan, and their boards vigorously sought to protect their clients. They used negotiation as a first line of defense, but were willing to go to court and forcefully defend their clients’ rights when necessary. They also were at the forefront of several legislative battles in the Ohio General Assembly that sought, as Murray Seasongood urged the legal aid movement nationally more than once, to deal with the “causes of legal aid need.” Finally, early legal aiders worked to have Legal Aid be part of the wider legal and civic community. And despite their very real difference sin tactics and strategy with each other and with torchbearers, Robert Young, Dick Landis, and Jerry Lawson worked for much the same goals. In doing so, they provided a solid basis for Cincinnati Legal Aid to continue its work into the future.