Artists and lawyers may seem like two professions at opposite
ends of the spectrum, but similarities between the two do exist.
“I think there takes a certain amount of creativity in both,” says
Mary Newman, an associate who specializes in mergers and acquisitions at
Dinsmore & Shohl law firm. “Law obviously doesn’t gather the audience that
the arts do.”
While the differences are stark, a unique partnership between the two vocations has emerged in
Newman is chairman of the Cincinnati Bar Association’s Lawyers For
the Arts Committee, which matches low-income arts organizations with lawyers
looking to donate their time and effort.
“It gives the artists assistance in navigating the legal
landscape, while allowing the lawyers to gain valuable experience and
participate in the arts,” says Mike Boberg, director of shared services for
ArtsWave, which links local artists with amenities and services, including
litigation services from LFA.
Whether it’s an application for tax-exempt status, an intellectual
property rights issue or a nonprofit application, Tristate lawyers are
volunteering their talents, while learning about the local arts scene.
While at law school in Boston, Newman volunteered her time for a
similar program that provided legal services for emerging artist
“I saw that model and when I moved back to Cincinnati and saw the
size and vibrancy for the arts scene here, it seemed like the organization would
be a good fit for the city,” she says.
Shortly after starting the program more than a year ago, she and
CBA lawyers have assisted several artistic organizations, including the Queen
City Chamber Opera, the Know Theatre and the Midland Film Institute, among
Newman and Boberg both say the Internal Revenue Services nonprofit
application form is the most frequent request they receive. The cumbersome
multi-page document can cost up to $500, and there can be more fees if the
paperwork is not properly done, but the LFA committee is able to process the
application free of charge. This assistance is open to any art association in
Since the program’s inception, the LFA has already received 20
requests for service.
“Given that we haven’t promoted the service heavily, I’m
pleasantly happy with where things are to date,” says Boberg. “It’s serving the
LFA also serves young lawyers looking to broaden their skill
“It’s really a great training opportunity and it’s an opportunity
to give back to the community,” says Newman. “Its also nice to be involved in
The committee is among a host of others that support the Tristate
community. With more than 4,500 attorneys, paralegals and legal professionals,
the CBA has used its support network to help to the community and the entire
“It’s just been really great in terms of coming here with this
idea and getting the support from ArtsWave,” says Newman. “It’s nice to have
support from so many different people.”