News - Capital University Law School

With Support from Moyer Fellowship, Elizabeth Williams Helps Others

4/9/2018  -  Capital Law students and alumni have long been leaders in giving back to their communities, and Elizabeth Williams, L’19, did not wait for graduation to follow in this tradition. Ms. Williams recently took her passion for public service to the next level, creating resources to help people rebuild their lives after incarceration. She did this with the support of the Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer Fellowship and the mentorship of a committed Capital alum, Mindy Yocum, L ’11.

Williams learned of the fellowship opportunity from Ashley Messick, Pro Bono Coordinator for the Law School. Messick also put Williams in touch with Ms. Yocum. A few years after graduation, Ms. Yocum had decided to start her own public interest law firm to help those who are sometimes unable to afford the counsel they need. Her innovative work for clients of modest means was recently featured in the September, 2017, issue of the ABA Journal.

“Mindy’s firm works to provide access to the courts for clients who are disadvantaged and without knowledge of the legal system. She does a lot of pro bono work and was specifically interested in re-entry issues,” Williams said. “I thought that the work we could do together fit well within one of Chief Justice Moyer’s initiatives.” One specific initiative was the promotion and sustenance of civic education, which drove Williams’ work over the summer.

“I created a workbook for individuals who are close to release from incarceration, who are post-release and looking for resources, and who have been released but find that their prior record is hindering their reintegration into society,” she said.

The workbook includes a practical, step-by-step guide to gaining employment through Certificates of Qualification for Employment, Certificates of Achievement and Employability, and Record-Sealing. She plans on expanding it to include resources about driver’s license reinstatement, child support, housing, counseling and addiction services, and healthcare.

During the summer fellowship, she worked with individuals from Legal Aid Society, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, and various other organizations to expand her resource base and introduce the workbook into prisons around Ohio.

“Too often people with a criminal record are written off as expendable, but I think they still have much to offer society, and with the proper help, they can be extremely productive and lead crime-free lives,” Williams said.

The Delaware, Ohio native, who earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Ohio University, came away from the fellowship experience with some new insights.

“I have learned just how hard it is for individuals to regain status in society after release from prison,” she said. “Some of the paperwork is hard for me -- as a law student -- to complete. Some individuals may have never used a computer or don’t have the resources to even get to the library and use one. I know this is something I will carry with me as an attorney. I plan to continue my effort to help individuals with re-entry, because our society’s success depends on it.”

The Moyer Fellowship was created by the Ohio State Bar Association with the support of the Ohio State Bar Foundation. The $5,000 award is presented to exceptional first- or second-year students enrolled in an Ohio law school to fund a summer opportunity advancing one of Chief Justice Moyer’s primary initiatives, including improved access to the courts, civility, and the rule of law.