Monday, October 29, 2001

Lawyer's quest for justice honored

Santen helped the needy, kids

By Amy Higgins
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        “Justice for all” isn't just a catch phrase to Harry H. Santen. For the last half-century, he's made it a way of life.

        Working to provide legal representation for low-income clients, diversity in hiring and equal opportunities in education, the Indian Hill lawyer has touched many lives.

        For his efforts, Mr. Santen, 72, today will be awarded the Jacob E. Davis Volunteer Leadership Award from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

        “He has, over the course of many years now, dedicated himself to making sure we have a more just society in this city,” said Mary Asbury, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati.

        Ms. Asbury, who nominated him for the honor, said she first met Mr. Santen in 1979.

        Three years later, the Legal Aid Society faced deep federal budget cuts and an increasing need from low-income clients. So Mr. Santen helped create Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor Foun dation and the Volunteer Lawyers Project. which enlisted some 600 lawyers from 36 firms to offer their expertise to low-income clients.


        Growing up in Clifton and Hyde Park, Mr. Santen remembers his lawyer father coming home and talking about pro bono cases he'd handled for indigent clients.

        “They both liked to talk about leadership,” Mr. Santen said of his parents. “So I grew up with that idea.”

        Mr. Santen also helped convene the Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati-Cincinnati Bar Association Round Table, formed in 1987 to address the lack of racial diversity in downtown law firms.

        When the group began, only one lawyer in a downtown firm was African-American, he said. Now, there are 50 to 60, including at least 12 partners.

        Mr. Santen also helped found the Catholic Inner-City Schools Advisory Board, and he volunteers as an assistant sixth-grade teacher at St. Francis Seraph School in Over-the-Rhine.

        “Education is the key to a lot of injustices,” he said.


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