February 7, 2014

Volunteer Spotlight: LASC Recognizes Mary Kay Ryan Fenlon

Save the Dream volunteer Mary Kay Ryan Fenlon is a perfect example of an attorney who volunteers for Legal Aid even though her daily practice has no relation to poverty law.

In-house counsel for AT&T, Mary Kay came from a background in utilities practice, working first as a hearing examiner at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and then later for Porter Wright. She was first drawn to the pro bono project through her alma mater, Capital University Law School. Like LASC, Capital was involved in the foreclosure prevention efforts of the Save the Dream initiative. Anxious to help homeowners through the school program but recognizing that she needed to learn more about the foreclosure process, Mary Kay signed on to represent clients in foreclosure mediations through LASC.

Participation in the process has given her exposure to an area of law she would not have encountered in her day job, and she has enjoyed the intellectual challenge. The professional challenge comes with personal benefits as well, allowing her to gain “the pleasure and satisfaction of helping others not just in saving their homes, but also in many other areas of their lives, such as employment and education opportunities.”

Mary Kay’s advice to attorneys hesitant to become involved is simple: “Your expertise is needed. The programs out there are so well organized that you can make a difference by giving just a few hours a month. And, don’t be afraid to tackle new issues. There is so much support from LASC and other attorneys if you find yourself needing answers or assistance. More important, you are needed now more than ever. Don’t wait.”

Mary Kay feels fortunate because her employer strongly encourages pro bono. In fact, through Mary Kay’s efforts, AT&T donated $3000 in November to support the pro bono initiatives of the Volunteer Resource Center, including the Save the Dream Foreclosure Mediation project. “I only hope that funding for LASC will continue and improve so that the future legal challenges that low-income clients will face can be met.”

LASC wishes to thank Mary Kay, who stepped outside her comfort zone to donate her time, talent, and support to our pro bono programs. To learn more about the LASC Save the Dream Foreclosure Mediation project, contact Pro Bono Coordinator Dianna Parker Howie at dparkerhowie@columbuslegalaid.org.