Speeches

Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor
Ohio State Bar Association Annual All-Ohio Legal Forum
Aug. 24, 2017

Good afternoon everyone.

Thank you, Randall.

It is a great honor for me to present the John and Ginny Elam Pro Bono Award here today.

Pro bono work is near and dear to my heart and the heart of legal professionals who wish to make legal services available to all.

With the help of the late Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, the Award was established in 2007 by Ginny Elam in honor of her late husband, John C. Elam. The award was designed to bring attention to exemplary pro bono work by Ohio attorneys, and to direct a grant to the organization of the recipient’s choosing.

This year’s honoree is Thomas E. Cafferty, from Toledo.

Mr. Cafferty was nominated by Michelle Tussing, director of the Pro Bono Program for the Toledo Bar Association, in recognition of the work Thom has done for Operation Legal Help Ohio and for the Toledo Bar Association.

Ms. Tussing describes Thom as an ideal volunteer – one who always says yes when called upon to help. In her nomination letter, Ms. Tussing stated:
“Thom is a solo practitioner in the Toledo, Ohio area. I do not know for sure if he takes private cases outside of Toledo, but I know that he has taken pro bono cases all across Northwest Ohio.”

She continues: “In my last job, as Director of the Pro Bono Center at Operation Legal Help Ohio, Thom was one of my volunteers and one of the few attorneys I had who practiced consumer work. Every time I had a veteran who needed legal help in any type of consumer law, Thom was there to help. Even if the client likely did not have a good defense, Thom was still willing to take a look and do everything he could to help the client. Sometimes, all that was needed was an attorney to make sure the other side did not take further advantage of the client.”

Well-said, Ms. Tussing.

Mr. Cafferty has also presented CLE classes as a way to recruit volunteer attorneys for Operation Legal Help Ohio, and to provide training for them in areas of the law where their help was needed.

It is clear from Mr. Cafferty’s nomination materials that his dedication and work have been a great benefit to his community and region, and further evidence of the impact that one person can have in providing pro bono legal services.

We can all be proud of his efforts and are glad to be able to present him with the Elam Pro Bono Award.

Please join me in recognizing Thomas E. Cafferty.