Dinsmore’s Nita Hanson Announced as Pro Bono Service Award Recipient
Nita Hanson, a litigation associate in Dinsmore & Shohl LLP’s Columbus office, has been announced among this year’s Pro Bono Award recipients from the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, Columbus Bar Association and the Columbus Bar Foundation. She will receive the honor on Oct. 24, during the ABA National Pro Bono Celebration Week.
The associations give out six pro bono awards annually to the people and law firms of Columbus who contribute most remarkably free of charge, and Hanson is being honored with the Pro Bono Service by an Individual award.
“Nita is a remarkable example of someone who has woven pro bono work into her profession, always making it a priority, despite the many other obligations in her life,” Litigation Partner Bill Mattes wrote in his nomination of Hanson. “… She not only participates in advice clinics, but she has also taken on pro bono eviction cases, ensuring low-income tenants have a voice in the legal system. … Nita’s counseling can be life-altering for low-income individuals forced to navigate the court system by themselves.”
Among Hanson’s greatest pro bono contributions is her participation in the Tenant Advocacy Project (TAP), where she advises and represents people in eviction court toward finding adequate housing solutions.
“Statistics show that having a private attorney present through TAP makes an indigent person 700 times more likely to reach an amicable resolution in court,” Hanson said. “That’s why I do this.”
She views pro bono work not as something extra, but as a part of her work and an integral piece of her life.
“My faith gives my life meaning, and serving others gives my life purpose,” she said. “I live a life of abundance, so I feel required to share with people who do not. If I can do that because I have special skills and training to give people free advice, and because I work at Dinsmore, which supports lawyers in giving back, then I will—especially when it means I can represent someone who would otherwise be cheated out of their home. It’s a privilege to serve people who would otherwise be denied justice.”
Hanson also encourages pro bono participation throughout the office, and she brings Dinsmore summer associates along with her when she volunteers, to make clear that pro bono work is a necessary and rewarding part of being an attorney.
“It is important for us to bring up the next generation,” she said. “We’re all busy. We all have more scheduled than we can make happen, so we have to make conscious decisions to set aside time to give back to others. It’s a habit that has to be developed early.”
In addition to the pro bono award, Hanson was also nominated last month to participate in the Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer Inn of Court, the nation’s oldest and fastest-growing legal mentoring association. In her everyday practice, Hanson focuses much of her work on fiduciary litigation, including disputes over improper use of powers of attorney, guardianships and challenges involving estates, wills and trusts. Prior to becoming an attorney, she spent 25 years as a paralegal.