Login | April 23, 2019

Former magistrate hired as OLAF’s new pro bono director

Legal News Reporter

Published: October 30, 2018

A former Ohio Court of Claims magistrate is settling into her new position as pro bono director at the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation (OLAF) after being hired to fill the vacancy left by E. Jane Taylor, who retired on Sept. 29, 2017.

Sophia Chang started at OLAF on Sept. 10, after serving as magistrate for about three years, where she presided over hearings for cases brought against the state of Ohio and its agencies.

“I am really excited to be part of this organization, where people are passionate about helping the underserved communities of Ohio,” said Chang. “I am very optimistic that I will be able to work with this team to find innovative ways to grow pro bono resources in the state.”

Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Executive Director Angela Lloyd said Chang brings “a whole new energy and focus” to the nonprofit organization.

“She has many innovative ideas, including plans to use technology to improve opportunities for pro bono in the state,” said Lloyd.

Unlike Taylor, who served as director for pro bono and communications, Chang will focus exclusively on working to support local and statewide pro bono efforts.

At the beginning of January 2018, Jennifer Rieman began serving as communications manager.

“After Jane left we decided to separate the roles, which both require very different skill sets,” said Lloyd. “Jennifer is a communications specialist and spent many years as public relations manager for The Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants.”

A native of Columbus, Chang received her bachelor’s degree in political science from The Ohio State University. She went on to obtain a Master of Arts in public policy and administration from The Ohio State University John Glenn College of Public Affairs and a juris doctor from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

“I think I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since kindergarten,” said Chang. “I’ve always had a strong sense of justice and fairness, which makes the law the perfect field for me.”

After graduating from the Moritz College of Law, Chang was hired by American Electric Power as part of the Moritz Corporate Fellowship program, which places new graduates in the general counsel offices of leading national corporations.

She spent two and half years in the legal department of American Electric Power, where she worked in the litigation, commercial transactions and regulatory groups.

Afterwards, she served as a staff attorney at the Court of Claims for about 18 months and then as magistrate.

David Laing, associate general counsel at American Electric Power said Chang’s desire to give back to the community was apparent throughout her time at the company.

“I remember that she became involved in a number of civic or charitable activities,” said Laing. 

“When she told me that she was interested in the job at the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, I knew it was perfect for her,” he said. “I remember that she had a twinkle in her eye and was quite animated when talking about it.

“I think she brings a good combination of experience to the position and I am sure she will do an excellent job.”

Chang said she made the decision to pursue a career path that would allow her to assist those in need before she enrolled in the dual degree program at The Ohio State University.

“I felt that my master’s in public policy and administration would give me the background that I would need to work at a nonprofit,” she said. “It did take me time to find the right role though.

“My job at OLAF allows me to utilize my master’s degree and my legal degree to make a real difference in people’s lives.”

Chang, who lives in Columbus with her husband Michael, said she is currently working on building relationships with the pro bono directors at Ohio’s legal aid organizations.

She is also focused on coordinating and creating a “Justice Bus” to provide resources to residents in rural counties in Ohio.

“The concept is to have mobile clinics in rural areas that help Ohioans who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Chang.

“I am also looking at ways to use technology to increase access to resources across the state, perhaps by providing brief advice via Skype and live chat programs.

“There are a lot of exciting opportunities to explore and I look forward to building and expanding pro bono resources to improve access to justice for all Ohioans,” said Chang.