Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton were the featured guests at Wednesday’s 14th Annual Equal Justice Council Recognition Breakfast at Camden Yards. Rawlings-Blake said she was “excited to celebrate Legal Aid’s centenary. I began my career at Legal Aid, where I worked with the city’s most vulnerable citizens.”
Wharton, who has also served at the head of civil and public defender programs in the Memphis area, said “I can’t believe the Maryland private bar’s support for legal services. It’s amazing!”
Pointing out that at the end of World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt established a “second” Bill of rights that included a right to housing, health care and employment, Wharton called them “the little things you take for granted. But they’re not protected by the Constitution–and that’s where lawyers come in. . . . The purpose of the law is to protect the powerless from the powerful. . . . As FDR observed in the waning days of the war, there is no security anywhere, no peace anywhere, if a third, or a fifth or a tenth of those here at home are ill-fed, ill-clothed, not housed, not educated. Who does that responsibility fall to? A lawyer you can go to. . . . There will be no security, no peace unless we breath life into the slogan ‘equal justice under law.’ And that requires a passion. . . . Remember this: a profession without passion brings nothing but pain.”
The awardees: Paul D. Bekman of Salsbury, Clements, Bekman, Marder & Adkins and Scott A. Livingston of Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver (Champions of Justice awards). The Equal Justice Associates’ Leadership award went to Lisa Hall Johnson of Dickstein Shapiro and the Pacesetter awards to Ober Kaler and Whiteford, Taylor & Preston. This year’s Trailblazers are DLA Piper, Miles & Stockbridge and Venable. The Executive Director Awards were given to EJC co-chairs Andrew Jay Graham and Benjamin Rosenberg.