The Ohio Poverty Law Center (OPLC) pursues statewide policy and systemic advocacy to expand, protect and enforce the legal rights of low-income Ohioans. OPLC also provides assistance to and collaborates with the Ohio legal aid community as the legal services state support center for Ohio. OPLC attorneys are experienced poverty law advocates who work both independently and as a team to address pressing issues facing low-income Ohioans statewide.
OPLC was established at the Ohio State Legal Services Association (OSLSA) in 1966 by the Ohio State Bar Association with funding assistance from the Office of Economic Opportunity. OSLSA changed the name of the OSLSA State Support Center to the Ohio Poverty Law Center in 2009.
OPLC attorneys focus their work on one or more substantive legal areas affecting low-income Ohioans. OPLC manages the content on the public and advocate views of the Ohio Statewide Legal Services Website.
| Eugene R. King, Director
Gene King received his bachelor’s degree from Ohio University in 1974 and his law degree from the Ohio State University College of Law in 1983. He joined the Ohio State Legal Services Association in 1982 and is now the director of the Ohio Poverty Law Center.
Gene focuses his legal practice on health care and public benefits issues affecting low-income Ohioans. Gene is, or has been, a member of the ODJFS Medical Care Advisory Committee, Ohio Best Rx Commission, Medicaid Eligibility Policy Advisory Committee, Help End Lead Poisoning, and other boards and commissions. He has participated in a wide range of statewide groups addressing low-income health care issues. He chairs a statewide legal services task force on public benefits and health care and has written, consulted and trained extensively on Medicaid, Medicare, Managed Care, alternative payment sources, access to health care, and law office management. He coauthored an article in the Journal of Public Health Policy, Lessons for the Health Care Industry from America’s Experience with Public Utilities and a study analyzing Ohio’s Medicaid Managed Care Program,Making the Consumer’s Voice Heard in Medicaid Managed Care: Increasing Participation, Protection, and Satisfaction. He has written and spoken extensively about health care, public benefits, professional development and legal services management.
| Michael R. Smalz, Senior Attorney
Mike Smalz has been working at OSLSA/OPLC on statewide family law, domestic violence, and other poverty law issues in Ohio since 1988 and has been practicing law for over 30 years. Mike received his JD from the University of Minnesota College of Law in 1976. Prior to joining OSLSA/OPLC, Mike practiced in legal services in Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Advisory Committees on Domestic Violence and Children, Families, and the Courts. He has also served on many Supreme Court, Bar, and administrative agency committees and task forces, and the Ohio Child Support Guidelines Council. Mike has argued, served as counsel, or filed amicus briefs in nearly a dozen major Ohio Supreme Court cases and has given trainings and presentations for attorneys and non-attorneys on domestic violence, child support, fair housing law, public utility law, appellate practice, and other topics. He has published articles on federal civil rights laws, the primary caretaker custody doctrine, and domestic violence and is the author of two major guidebooks on fair housing law.
| Linda Cook, Senior Attorney
Linda Cook is a Senior Attorney at the Ohio Poverty Law Center focusing on statewide consumer law issues. She engages in legislative advocacy on issues that affect low income consumer rights and fights to preserve consumer protections, working to make the marketplace safer and more transparent. Linda has worked with a broad coalition of consumer advocates to pass legislation reforming the payday lending industry in Ohio; she also helped to draft and worked to pass bi-partisan legislation updating Ohio’s exemption statute. Linda currently serves as one of the consumer advocates on the Ohio Attorney General’s Consumer Sales Practices Act Advisory Group. Linda has helped to build partnerships between the Federal Trade Commission and the legal aid community to address widespread problems such as debt collection harassment, identity theft, and a variety of consumer scams. Linda also manages two statewide collaborative legal aid foreclosure intervention projects. Linda practiced law for over 18 years in a legal aid direct service office as a staff attorney and managing attorney prior to joining the staff of the Ohio Poverty Law Center in August 2006. In addition to policy advocacy, she provides litigation support, coordinates trainings, and develops materials and publications to address a broad range of consumer issues at the local and state levels. Linda also chairs and coordinates the statewide consumer law task force for the legal aid community. Linda is a 1987 graduate of the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.