It took an experience abroad working at a nongovernmental organization for Patrick Higgins to realize that many of the poverty issues he was devoted to solving were an issue back home in the U.S. too. It spurred his decision to attend law school, and it eventually brought him to Ohio Poverty Law Center as a Justice for All Fellow.

Higgins helps to remove barriers to employment for low-income people through policy advocacy, community education around the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, and legal representation. His work seeks to alleviate issues that keep people out of work and in poverty.

One of his clients was a single mother and survivor of domestic violence who had a criminal record because she fought back against her abuser. Because of her record, she was ineligible to advance at her job. Higgins helped the woman go through the process to have her record sealed, improving her future career prospects so that she is better able to support her family.

“This mother had been through significant trauma and was being held back simply because of this record,” he said. “We got it removed and she’s doing much better. I don’t think lawyers can do everything, but we can make an impact in areas that are inaccessible to other people.”