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Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh talks about how he became involved with the cause. Angelique S. Chengelis

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Toledo, Ohio — Shortly before receiving a key to Toledo, his birthplace, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh explained why helping raise money and awareness for legal services for low-income Americans has become a passion.

Harbaugh is a member of the Legal Services Corporation’s Leaders Council and last summer spoke at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C.

He was the keynote speaker for Advocates for Basic Equality and Legal Aid of Western Ohio’s Access to Justice Awards dinner at the SeaGate Centre in Toledo Thursday night. According to Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, Harbaugh’s presence gave the organization a significant bump on money raised. An estimated $100,000 was raised from the event Thursday, an increase of $40,000.

“Just struck by the unfairness that the legal system has right now,” Harbaugh said before the event. “If you have money, you have a much better chance of winning an outcome through the legal system because you can afford an attorney. Even those that qualify to have legal aid, still there’s not enough to accommodate all the needs that there is for the 20 percent of our society that qualifies for legal aid and civil suits.

“It’s not a secret, and if you took a poll everybody would probably say, ‘Yeah, you’ve got a better chance of winning a case or having a better judgment or outcome if you have legal representation. Would you believe that 86 percent of the 20 percent that qualify still get very little to no legal aid. It’s not fair. It’s not enough. We’ve got to do better. I’m here tonight to honor those that are setting the example and doing so much good for our community. That’s really why I’m here.”

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Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh says he's pleased with the NCAA ruling and adds the quarterback is competing for a starting spot. Angelique S. Chengelis


And because Harbaugh was in Toledo, he was asked about Toledo-born quarterback Shea Patterson, who transferred from Ole Miss and will be immediately eligible. 

“It was a really good outcome for Shea. Very happy about it,” Harbaugh said. “He’s working hard, going to class, continuing to take care of his business. It’s good. He had a good spring. Just onward from here.”

Harbaugh said Patterson has been competing well for the starting job.

“He’s doing what he can do,” he said. “He’s doing really well. He’s shining on the field. The team’s coming together. “

Kapszukiewicz presented Harbaugh with an encased Libbey glass key to the city after he concluded a media interview.

achengelis@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/chengelis