Ohio State Bar Foundation celebrates Jennifer Himmelein as recipient of John and Ginny Elam Pro Bono Award

November 03, 2020

The Ohio State Bar Foundation (OSBF) is pleased to honor Jennifer Himmelein as the recipient of this year’s John and Ginny Elam Pro Bono Award.

“The Elam family established this award to recognize publicly an attorney who provides or facilitates the delivery of pro bono services to persons of limited means or to charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, or educational organizations in matters addressing the needs of those with limited financial resources,” said Judge Jeffrey Froelich, who sits on the Ohio Second District Court of Appeals in Dayton and is the chair of the Elam Selection Committee. “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, ‘When you pursue your path in life, leave tracks’. Ms Himmelein’s work with people who, whether because of loss of employment, custody issues, homelessness, or similar seemingly-intractable problems, have nowhere else to turn, leaves life-affirming tracks in many of their lives and exemplifies what it means to be a lawyer.”

Himmelein is as a partner at Brouse McDowell, where she focuses her practice in family law, including domestic relations, juvenile, probate, and mediation. She regularly serves as a Court-appointed Guardian ad Litem in Cuyahoga, Lorain, Lake, and Geauga Counties. Himmelein has participated in extensive divorce-related mediation training and is certified as a Parent Coordinator.

Himmelein is very active in her community in Northeast Ohio. She serves as Chair of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s (CMBA) Justice For All Committee (JFA) and has been the driving force behind the Pro Se and Pro Se “Plus” Divorce Clinics for almost a decade. The Clinics, a program of the CMBA in partnership with The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and the Cleveland Law Library, serve financially disadvantaged individuals seeking a simple divorce who have nowhere else to turn. Himmelein consistently works to improve the clinics and re-evaluates how they can best serve the community. She also works with staff at the Domestic Relations Court to ensure the program addresses the court’s needs and includes their input. Each year, nearly 200 individuals are helped through these clinics.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and enforced shut-downs across Ohio, Himmelein worked tirelessly to have a plan in place for when legal clinics could begin to operate virtually and continue their mission of serving those in need. In June, she worked with her connections at Legal Aid to pilot virtual clinics, personally overseeing the distribution of necessary paperwork and matching clients with reliable, experienced volunteers. Through Himmelein’s efforts, the pandemic has not stopped the flow of services to indigent individuals seeking help for a divorce in her community.

“The OSBF is honored to celebrate Jennifer Himmelein’s receiving the John and Ginny Elam Pro Bono Award,” said OSBF President Mark Kitrick. “This Award commends attorneys who go above and beyond as they serve their communities through pro bono work. The Foundation applauds Jennifer for her ongoing, passionate work that betters the lives of those in Northeast Ohio. The OSBF strongly believes in the importance of partnerships to improve Ohio’s justice system, and our joining with the Elam Selection Committee to applaud the work of hardworking attorneys allows us to highlight the good work lawyers are doing to advance and elevate our system for everyone’s benefit.”

The John and Ginny Elam Pro Bono Award was established in 2007 to recognize exceptional pro bono work in the state of Ohio. With the help of Chief Justice Tom Moyer, Ginny Elam created the Award as a tribute to her late husband John Elam who was an advocate for attorneys to provide public service through pro bono activities. Elam generously donated his own time and talents to support the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, as well as other groups working to provide access to the courts for those who are disadvantaged.

Nominees for the John and Ginny Elam Pro Bono Award are solicited each year and are evaluated on their history of providing, facilitating or encouraging the delivery of pro bono services, to persons of limited means or to charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental and/or educational organizations. The Award has recognized 14 individuals around the state of Ohio and brought attention to important and selfless work of attorneys.

To view the OSBF’s celebration video featuring Jennifer Himmelein, visit OSBF.org/2020Awards.

Back to all Articles