Monthly Archives: September 2010

Survey says civil legal aid lawyers still lowest-paid in legal profession

According to new statistics from the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), civil legal aid lawyers are still the lowest paid members of the entire legal profession, earning less than public defenders, many other public interest lawyers and in most instances far less than their counterparts in the private sector.

The statistics come from NALP’s 2010 Public Sector and Public Interest Salary Report, which was released on September 9 along with a companion report on the salaries of private sector lawyers.

According to the reports, entry-level civil legal aid lawyers earn a median salary of $42,000 a year—less than local prosecutors, public defenders and lawyers at public interest organizations. By comparison, the median starting salary of a first-year lawyer at a private law firm is $115,000. (Starting salary at Maryland Legal Aid is $50,425.)

The statistics also show that the salary situation for legal aid lawyers does not improve over time. If a legal aid lawyer stays with a legal aid program for 11 to 15 years, he or she can expect to earn about $63,000 a year, still less than all other public and private sector lawyers with similar experience.

NALP’s findings are consistent with the federal Legal Services Corp.’s salary statistics, which show that first-year staff attorneys at LSC grantees earn an average of $43,000 a year and can expect to earn about $59,000 a year after ten to 14 years of experience. Maryland Legal Aid is an LSC grantee.

Madison Park North residents left out of the process

Maryland Legal Aid staff attorney Tabinda Riaz was quoted in the Baltimore Sun in an article about a hearing on the fate of the Madison Park North public housing project in Baltimore.

More than two dozen residents attended the hearing, saying they were worried that they would be unable to find comparable housing or afford to move if the complex, beset with violence and drug dealing, loses its multifamily dwelling license. Legal Aid represents the tenants association.

“I don’t think the city is realizing that this could result in mass homelessness,” Riaz said. “Residents have been left out of the process.”

To read the article, click here.

Right to housing ‘as American as apple pie’

The question to whether there’s a right to housing in the U.S. will be answered at the second of four lectures in the Homeless Person’s Representation Project’s Speakers Series Sept. 27.

The featured speaker is Florence Roisman, the William F. Harvey Professor of Law at Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, a nationally recognized expert in homelessness, low-income housing, and housing discrimination and segregation.

“Not only is the right to housing recognized in international law, it grows out of U.S. doctrine,” Roisman said in a phone interview for this week’s Of Service column in the Daily Record. “Franklin Roosevelt raised it in his 1944 State of the Union Address as part of his ‘Second Bill of Rights,’ and Congress established a national housing goal in the 1949 National Housing Act.” To read the column, click here.

A panel discussion follows the lecture with assistant director of advocacy for income security Peter Sabonis of Maryland Legal Aid; Jeff Singer, president and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless; and Jeremy Rosen, policy director for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.

The free 90-minute lecture starts next Monday at 7 o’clock in the Wheeler Auditorium at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in downtown Baltimore. For more information, call (410) 685-6589, ext. 24 or visit

New law will strengthen protections for domestic violence victims

A law that goes into effect Oct. 1 strengthening protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault isn’t just a win for the most vulnerable people in society.

It’s also a template for what can happen when legal services advocates working in different areas form a coalition and work for a common cause.

“The most important way this new law will help domestic violence and sexual assault victims is by improving their safety by giving them housing choices they didn’t have before,” said University of Baltimore School of Law professor Michele Gilman, who spearheaded the effort to get the bill through the General Assembly.

“It gives them autonomy in how to secure safe housing,” Gilman said. “They can stay in the property and get the locks changed, or terminate the lease early.”

The coalition brought together advocates who don’t have much of a history of working together in Maryland: lawyers who help domestic violence victims and low-income housing lawyers.

To read the rest of this “Of Service” column in the Daily Record (written by Maryland Legal Aid communications director Joe Surkiewicz), click here.