Alumni News

December 17, 2021 at 9:49 am

Alumni News | Liz Lattner fights for her clients’ legal and housing needs

 

Liz Lattner at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center

Liz Lattner at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center

Editor’s Note: The Happy Beginnings series features recent College of Arts & Sciences graduates who are getting started in careers, graduate school and service.

From Ohio University News

When her clients need help, Ohio University alumna Liz Lattner goes into action, looking for solutions to their legal, health-related, and housing needs.

As a paralegal at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, she works with an attorney at the society’s Medical-Legal Partnership with St. Vincent Charity Medical Center “to address health-harming legal needs of the patients at that hospital. Providers at the hospital refer patients to us for assistance with a variety of legal issues. The majority of our clients are referred from the psychiatric units or the in-patient detox units. Additionally, many of my clients are unhoused or housing insecure.”

Legal Aid is a full-service civil law firm that provides pro bono legal assistance to low-income individuals. St. Vincent Charity Medical Center is located in the Central neighborhood of downtown Cleveland, and the majority of its residents live below the poverty line. The kind of cases Lattner works on are record sealing, eviction defense, public benefit terminations, divorce, and housing conditions.

Liz Lattner, portrait in suit

Liz Lattner

“We (the attorney and myself) aim to address social determinants of health to improve the health and safety of our patient population,” Lattner said, noting that connecting with clients “has been extremely tough during the pandemic. When everyone went to remote work and Zoom, we were trying to figure out how we would reach our clients who didn’t have access to the internet or smart phones.

“Especially with the end of the eviction moratorium, we have been extremely busy trying to assist as many clients as we can with avoiding eviction and staying stably housed,” she noted.

Q&A with Liz Lattner

Q: How did what you learned at OHIO help you pursue your passions?

A. I received my undergrad degree in Sociology-Criminology with a minor in Psychology and a Certificate in Law, Justice and Culture. My certificate led me to the M.A. program in Law, Justice & Culture! I transferred to OHIO from Cleveland State in the second semester of my sophomore year, and it was a tough transition. But then I found the Center for Law, Justice & Culture, and knew I made the right decision. The CLJC was a safe space for me, and I loved the classes I took through that program. So when it came time to graduate undergrad, the choice was easy to stay at OHIO for another year and stay with the CLJC!

I loved the CLJC master’s program!!! It was one of the best decisions I ever made. It allowed me to pursue higher education in a personalized way. I was able to pursue my interests by picking the courses I wanted and writing a thesis on a subject that I never had the chance to study in college. I loved the versatility of the program. And because I was able to pursue my own interests, I felt like I was finally “in my element.” Each class challenged me in a brand new way.

Q: Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life? 

A. It is so hard to choose favorite professors, but I have to shout out Dr. Amanda Cox. Not only is she an amazing mentor and professor, but she was my thesis adviser, and I could not have finished in that short period of time without her continued support. Her belief in me throughout my time at OHIO taught me to believe in myself. She also taught me everything I know about the death penalty, which is now one of my favorite topics to debate with others who have not had the pleasure of taking her “The Death Penalty in the United States” class.

Additionally, Dr. Haley Duschinski was instrumental in my decision to pursue the CLJC’s master’s program. She is an incredible professor. The Human Rights, Law & Justice in Northern Ireland study abroad course I took with her is one of, if not the, most impactful experiences I had during my time at OHIO.

Other professors that come to mind include Dr. Daniel Moak and his Race and the Criminal Justice System course—highly recommend! And Dr. Nicole Kaufman’s Criminal Justice course introduced me to the world of wrongful convictions, which completely changed the trajectory of my time at OHIO!

Q: Tell us about how your thesis was used!

A. I recently found out that my master’s thesis, Perceived Black Criminality and Its Impact on Contributors to Wrongful Convictions in Cases of African American Men, was cited in an LA Times opinion piece, Opinion: The rate at which Black Americans are wrongfully convicted is disparate | HS Insider (latimes.com).

Q: What was your ah-ha moment at OHIO—that point where you said to yourself, “I’ve got this!”?

A. I honestly don’t know if I ever thought that….  I had extreme imposter syndrome while I was at OHIO. Undergrad, and especially grad school, is hard and intimidating. No one says this out loud, but I feel like everyone at one point thinks, “Can I really do this?” I know that is probably not the best answer, but it is the truth. But hopefully this helps anyone reading it who is struggling with the same self-doubt: you are smart enough and you can do hard things! That’s one of the reasons why I am so grateful to the faculty at the CLJC…. They pushed me to succeed through my periods of self doubt.

Q: What was the hardest hill you had to climb (not counting Jeff Hill) at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?

A. When COVID-19 first came to Ohio and OHIO went completely remote, I was in the middle of my last semester of grad school and in the hardest phase of writing my thesis. I had the choice of giving up my thesis and pursuing the master’s research essay option. Considering there was a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, it was really hard not to choose to give up on my thesis. Especially because I came home for spring break to my childhood home, expecting to go back to OHIO in a week, and then I never went back.

It was extremely hard to stay focused and motivated on pursuing a master’s degree when the entire world was falling apart around us. I actually ended up graduating in August instead of May because of this. That was tough, not because it ruined my career plans, but because it felt like a failure to graduate late. Thankfully, the CLJC was extremely understanding during the pandemic, and I was able to earn my degree.

Q: What are your favorite OHIO memories?

Slice Night at Courtside, study sessions at Court Street Coffee, spending the summer in Athens, homecoming, and spring break in Northern Ireland!

Q: What’s the one thing you would tell a new OHIO student not to miss?

Do not miss out on a summer in Athens (if you have the chance!). OHIO is a big part of Athens, but there is so much to explore in the community. Spending a summer there without the stress of classes is the perfect time to experience it!

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