Monthly Archives: October 2011

Pro Bono Week in Anne Arundel celebrates Legal Aid’s 100th

Anne Arundel County celebrated Pro Bono Week and the 100th Birthday of Maryland Legal Aid last week  by offering free, limited legal advice on civil matters in the law library.

“For National Pro Bono Week, we helped to expand the program to provide assistance all afternoon, all week,” said Maryland Legal Aid supervising attorney Lisa Sarro.  “We helped to organize the event and recruit volunteers, staffed some of the attorney time slots, and had staff available to provide assistance throughout the event in case any of the private volunteer attorneys had questions.  It was a great success!”

Fifteen Anne Arundel County volunteer attorneys provided 20 hours of free legal advice to 44 people.  Each attorney was available for at least one hour slot (in addition to the regularly scheduled Wednesday program).  Many of the attorneys stayed to help beyond their promised one hour in order to help.

Issues for which the attorneys were consulted included trusts, wills, torts, landlord\tenant, employment, foreclosure, real property, deeds, accident cases and family law.  Now that the Family Self Help Center is located in the law library, many of the family issues could be easily referred to the center.

The volunteers who volunteered: Jeff Bowman, Mary Jordan, Susan Mays, Carolyn Krohn, Kathleen McLaughlin, Darren Burns, Doug Hollman, Dana Paul, Alan Legum, Anita Bailey, John Greene, Lisa Sarro, Garland Hall, Elena Boisvert, Bob Waldman and Kunle Adeyemo.

Managing Partners Breakfast kicks off Equal Justice Council fall campaign

Managing partners from leading Baltimore law firms met Thursday morning for the Equal Justice Council’s annual fundraising kick-off, held at the offices of Rosenberg│Martin│Greenberg.

EJC co-chairs John Wolf of  Ober│Kaler and Ben Rosenberg urged the 25 senior attorneys at the breakfast meeting to support Maryland Legal Aid. “In 2010, Legal Aid had 62,000 cases, representing people who had reached the end of their string—out of work and desperate,” Rosenberg said. “We’re asking you to remember that we all hold a privilege, a license to practice law that carries an obligation.  If we don’t help people who can’t access the justice system, we’ll have even worse problems.”

Added Chief Judge Robert M. Bell: “I urge you to assist Legal Aid, which will improve the legal system and help the courts, which are seeing a surge in unrepresented litigants. I thank the members of the Equal Justice Council for their good work to help ensure adequate representation in the courts.”

In the photo (left to right): Alan Garten of Fedder & Garten, Martin Fletcher of Whiteford Taylor & Preston  and Jon Laria of Ballard Spahr.

Baltimore Pro Bono Day at Legal Aid

Discuss your civil legal problems one-on-one with volunteer attorneys at a free legal clinic. Types of issues include:
•    Divorce, custody & child support
•    Landlord-tenant
•    Wills & advance directives
•    Bankruptcy
•    Record expungements
•    Government benefits
•    Consumer issues
•    Foreclosure
•    Community & Nonprofit Organizations

Saturday, October 29, 2011
10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Location:

Legal Aid
500 East Lexington Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

Sponsored by:
Bar Association of Baltimore City

In partnership with:
Maryland Legal Aid, Legal Services for the Elderly, Maryland State Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, Inc., and Young Lawyers’ Division of the Bar Association of Baltimore City

Bring any relevant documents with you.  This event is free and no registration is required.  For more information, call 410-539-5936 ext. 102 or email info@baltimorebar.org.

If you are interested in a free foreclosure legal consultation at the event, contact the Pro Bono Resource Center at 1-800-396-1274 to pre-register and learn how to prepare for the legal consult.

Towson Pro Bono Day helps nearly 100 people

Saturday’s Pro Bono Day in Towson, sponsored by the Baltimore Co. Bar Association, helped nearly 100 people with their civil legal problems. It was the first such event sponsored by the bar association.

“It went unbelievably well,” said Stanford Gann Jr., of Levin & Gann P.A., a vice-chair of the committee that put the event together. “People were lining up at 9 a.m. to get in. We saw everyone who came and got incredible feedback from them.”

Thirteen private attorneys volunteered (out of 17 total, including lawyers from Maryland Legal Aid). “Without fail, everyone said it was extremely rewarding and worth giving up a Saturday,” Gann said. “We got a real sense that we were helping people. Everyone got a detailed appraisal of their situation, advice on what to do or what to file. There were no glazed eyes.”

Some comments from participants:

  • “Given options. I started with crying and ended with a laugh. Thank you.”
  • “Eased my worries made things a lot clearer, so I know what I’m entitled to. Load off my mind. Thanks.”
  • “The lawyer explained legal terms that were complicated to me. This positively helps people living paycheck to paycheck.”
  • “Very informative, pleasant to talk with the person. Didn’t feel rushed. Nice one‐on-one conversation.”

Gann said that while it was the first Pro Bono Day for Baltimore County, it won’t be the last. “We’ll be doing this annually, at least to start,” he said.

The pro bono lawyers: Mark Scurti, Hassan Barnes, Stephen Nolan, Lee Baylin, Sean Elavia, Jasmine Elavia, Jim Nolan, Laurie Ruth, Ann Lembo, Don Zarumba, Kim Magee, Jerry Payton,  Stanford Gann, Jr., and Josie Yuzuik.

In addition, Doris Barnes of the BCBA, Yoanna Moisides of Legal Aid, Lawrence Burton of the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service,  Yvette Foreman of the Baltimore Co. Office of Community Conservation, and Scott Stevens of the Baltimore Co. Law Library were on hand to make the event run smoothly.

Clients are up, funding is down for free legal aid

From Marylandreporter.com: “As the economy has slowed, the demand for free civil legal services has risen, but funding for those services has not increased.
‘The situation is dire,’ said Sharon Goldsmith, executive director of the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland. ‘The programs are feeling stretched beyond their limits. The funding is not there.'”

“At Maryland Legal Aid, the jump in clients is apparent ‘in our lobby any morning,’ said Wilhelm Joseph, executive director. ‘We used to add chairs as the room got full,’ Joseph said. ‘Now, we don’t have enough chairs for all the people looking for help.’”

To read the report, click here.

Legal Aid-staffed self-help center expands

A legal self-help clinic based in the Glen Burnie District Court–and staffed by Maryland Legal Aid–has expanded beyond Anne Arundel, The Baltimore Sun reported today.

By utilizing the Internet and a call-in service, people with civil legal needs throughout Maryland can now access basic legal information by “chatting” online with one of four Legal Aid lawyers.

The lawyers also can provide web links with useful information. “Some, typically those with complex issues, will bring in their paperwork, said Sarah Frush, who supervises the center,” the article reported.

To read the article, click here (note: must be an online subscriber).

Free consumer legal rights workshop on Eastern Shore

Maryland Legal Aid and Mid-Shore Pro Bono, Inc. will host a free pro bono workshop on consumer issues Monday, Oct. 24, from 5 p.m. to 7  p.m. at Talbot County Senior Center, 400 Brookletts Avenue, Easton, MD 21601.

The workshop will  include information on consumer issues including: bankruptcy basics, debt collection rights and how to stop harassing debt collection calls, loan co-signers responsibilities, pay day loans, and identity theft. Volunteer pro bono attorneys and consumer advocates will speak for approximately 45 minutes on these topics and answer questions.

This workshop is being jointly provided by Legal Aid in celebration of its 100th anniversary and by Mid-Shore Pro Bono, Inc. in celebration of National Pro Bono Week. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is not required. For more information, call Mid-Shore Pro Bono at 410-690-8128.