COLUMBUS, OHIO (April 28, 2017) – Susan A. Choe, current Deputy Director and General Counsel for the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Ohio State Bar Association’s (OSBA) Nettie Cronise Lutes Award. Choe received the award today during the OSBA’s Council of Delegates meeting in Columbus.
The Nettie Cronise Lutes Award, named for the first woman to practice law in Ohio, was created by the OSBA Women in the Profession Section to recognize women lawyers who have “improved the legal profession through their own high level of professionalism and who have opened doors for other women and girls.”
“Susan has spent her career in the service of others. As someone who knows how to rally and support attorneys who give back to those who need it most, she has been a fantastic role model and leader, both for women and our entire profession,” said OSBA President Ronald Kopp.
Choe’s desire to give back was instilled in her at an early age by her parents who, when Choe was five, emigrated to the United States from South Korea to provide a better life for their children. By age 12, Choe was volunteering in a local retirement home. Little did she know then that community service would be the driving force behind her decision to go to law school and her work to ensure the least among us would have access to legal services.
After securing a bachelor’s in chemistry and economics at The Ohio State University, Choe went on to earn her Juris Doctor at the Moritz College of Law. She became an AmeriCorps housing attorney with Toledo’s Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, and later a staff and a supervising attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus and Legal Aid of Western Ohio, respectively. While at Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Choe supervised the housing, consumer and government benefits unit for the Toledo office and directed the Social Security Work Incentives Resource Project, a multi-office endeavor serving residents in 31 counties.
Her experience assisting clients in housing matters, including affirmative housing conditions cases, eviction defense, foreclosure defense, fair housing claims and predatory lending would provide a strong foundation for future positions. She directed clinical programs for her alma mater, leading Ohio State’s Student Housing Legal Clinic where she worked with second and third year law students on how to represent clients, including fellow students on various landlord-tenant matters. Later, as Section Chief for the Consumer Protection Section at the Ohio Attorney General’s office, Choe would play a key role in the Save the Dream program, helping to mobilize more than 1,300 volunteer attorneys to represent low-income Ohioans affected by the foreclosure crisis. Choe served many other roles in the Attorney General’s Office, including Section Chief for the Civil Rights Section and the Gambling Unit Lead, eventually rising to Principal Assistant Attorney General for the Charitable Law Section.
“In every role she has assumed, including her current position at the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation and as a Trustee at the YWCA of Columbus, Susan has mentored, taught, encouraged, and empowered women, whether they were colleagues or her clients. This embodies the true spirit of the Nettie Cronise Lutes Award,” said OSBA Women in the Profession Section Chair Patricia Snyder in presenting the award.
Choe and her husband John Donahue live in Columbus with Susan’s parents, to whom she gives much credit for inspiring her career in public service. In her spare time, Susan continues to take on pro bono housing cases through Columbus Legal Aid.