Merle Wilberding, senior attorney at Coolidge Wall Co., LPA, was presented the Lloyd O’Hara Public Interest Law Award at the 2016 Access to Justice Awards Gala on November 3. The event, held at the Ponitz Center at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, and was presented by Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE), Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO) and the Greater Dayton Volunteer Lawyer Project (GDVLP).
The annual Awards Gala recognizes individuals and organizations that have provided extraordinary assistance to disadvantaged individuals and families in the Dayton community.
Wilberding was honored for his ongoing efforts to educate at-risk children on how laws and the justice system work to create a peaceful and fair society, and by helping them know their legal rights. His first book, “Haki and the Rule of Law,” was published in 2013. His more recent book, “Haki Finds Common Ground” was co-written with Susan Elliott. It is a complementary civics book that was distributed free to more than 40,000 inner city school students in Dayton and throughout the state. The book uses several historical vignettes from the Lewis & Clark expedition in the early 1800’s to illustrate in a simple way the importance of using negotiation and mediation to resolve disputes.
“Merle’s enduring commitment to our community is inspiring,” said J. Stephen Herbert, President and CEO, Coolidge Wall. “This honor is well-deserved and all of us at the firm are proud of him.”
The Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Legal Aid of Western Ohio and the Greater Dayton Volunteer Lawyers Project are organizations that provide free legal assistance to low-income individuals who are victims of domestic violence, elder abuse, disability and public benefits concerns and immigration issues.