Login | December 13, 2018

Legal Aid creates new deputy director role, shifts other key leadership positions

Legal News Reporter

Published: March 9, 2018

Community Legal Aid Executive Director Steven McGarrity has created a new position to allow the nonprofit law firm to better manage client programs.

Jennifer van Dulmen has been named the organization’s first deputy director.

Previously the managing attorney for both Legal Aid’s Volunteer Legal Services Program and the Family Law Team, van Dulmen is now responsible for oversight of all client services, as well as day-to-day administration of legal programs.

McGarrity said the role fills a void he’s seen in the organization, which serves the legal needs of low-income people in central and northeast Ohio.

“We were really lacking a sense of cohesion in managing our client programs,” he said. “For the success of our legal services, all our managers each are focused on their specific subject areas. The addition of Jen’s role will help bind our teams together and make sure that we are looking for ways to address things from a systemic level.”

van Dulmen, who started with Legal Aid in 2006, said she is pleased to take on the new challenge.

“We have some amazing managers at Legal Aid,” she said. “I see my new role as being a resource to them, as someone who can help bring the right people together and resolve issues impacting our work and our clients.”

Meanwhile, two other staff members recently transitioned into new roles at Legal Aid.

Rachel Nader is the new volunteer legal services program manager, while Jeanne Charles is the group’s new legal assistance to victims manager.

The two managers replace van Dulmen, who oversaw both teams.

Nader has been with Legal Aid since 1999. As a Legal Aid attorney, she represented clients in housing matters, including foreclosures, evictions, land contracts, landlord-tenant disputes, public housing and fair housing matters.

She also handled bankruptcies, consumer litigation, predatory lending, debt collection, utility shutoffs and other financial legal matters.

Nader called it an honor to work with volunteers who work for free to preserve democracy by helping those who can’t afford to pay for private representation.

“I’m thrilled to be working with the pro bono group and will do everything I can to try and bridge the social justice gap,” she added. “Eighty-six percent of people have no access to justice at all. It’s a huge problem. We need to attempt to close the gap and help the people who need it most.”

Charles has always been interested in working with underrepresented populations, beginning her career in Chicago representing homeowners in predatory lending cases.

She joined Legal Aid in 2014 as a staff attorney, primarily representing victims of domestic violence.

Charles now heads the team that represents survivors of domestic violence, including obtaining protection orders to keep abusers away from victims and helping survivors establish permanent independence through custody and divorce work.

“I’m now in the courtroom less,” said Charles. “In my new position, I think of how the team as a whole can help victims in a broader way. I manage people and grants, rather than just my own caseload.

“My favorite thing is stepping alongside individuals who are at this pivotal moment in their lives where they’re trying to take power back. As a manager, I get to have a broader impact to help more people.”

“(Nader and Charles) represent some of the best Legal Aid has to offer, and I’m confident that they will help take us to the next level,” McGarrity said.