Monthly Archives: October 2012

Free legal help at Legal Aid

The Baltimore Sun reported on two recent Pro Bono Day legal clinics held in Baltimore County and Baltimore City.

“Legal Aid paired with the Baltimore County Bar Association and Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service to host the recent pro bono day in Randallstown,” wrote Sun reporter Yvonne Wenger.  “[Legal Aid’s Yoanna] Moisides said she wants to find more partners in the legal community to increase the number of events. So far, pro bono days are offered twice a year in Baltimore and Baltimore County; occasionally, the events have been held elsewhere.”

“It’s just incredible to see the need that exists,” Moisides said. A second free clinic was held in Baltimore on Saturday at Legal Aid’s downtown office.

To read Saturday’s article, click here.

Farmers await assistance from Washington, while U.N. may look at migrant worker conditions

Supervising attorney Nathaniel Norton, client Janet Gonzalez

Delmarva Public Radio interviewed two Maryland Legal Aid experts about the living conditions of migrant farmworkers on the Eastern Shore. In a story about the federal farm bill stalled in Congress. Farmworker Program supervising attorney Nathaniel Norton and Human Rights Program director Reena Shah talk about the way migrants live and their efforts to get the United Nations  involved in human rights abuses. For the link to the interview, click here.

Pro bono attorneys take the fright out of legal questions

BALTIMORE – ¬Legal issues can be scary enough, but the fear factor often is heightened by the potential cost. This Saturday in Baltimore, volunteer attorneys are standing by to offer advice for free. It’s Pro Bono Day at Maryland Legal Aid.

Coordinator Yoanna Moisides says experts will answer questions and make referrals on issues ranging from divorce and custody to housing, and criminal and consumer law.

Sometimes, information offers peace of mind, she says, as in the case of a man who came to a previous clinic worried about a debt from years ago.

“He was able to find out at the clinic that in fact, the debt-collection company that was contacting him was using several illegal methods.”

To read the entire Public News Service article or to hear the radio segment, click here.

Public interest law salaries stuck at 2004 levels

Salaries for government and public interest law jobs have barely increased since 2004, according to a recent report by the Association for Legal Career Professionals.

The median entry-level salary for a legal services lawyer is about $43,000, and a legal services lawyer with between 11 and 15 years of experience earns a median salary of about $65,000. Meanwhile, the median entry-level salary for public defenders is about $50,500, and the median salary for a public defense lawyer with between 11 and 15 years is $78,600. Local prosecuting attorneys earn a starting salary of $50,000, and they earn $77,000 when they have between 11 and 15 years of experience. And public interest organization lawyers who handle civil rights issues earn a starting salary of $45,000; those with 11 to 15 years of experience earn $75,000.

The report found that, based on data from 2004, salaries at public sector and public interest organizations have only increased between $9,000 and $12,000 since 2004.

“During the last eight years, most public interest and public sector lawyer salaries have just kept pace with inflation. Most public interest starting salaries have risen between 23 percent (public interest organizations) and 29 percent (public defenders), while the consumer price index has risen about 22 percent during the same period,” James Leipold, NALP’s executive director, said in a press release. “Meanwhile, during the same period, the cost of a legal education and the average amount of law student loan debt have both risen at a much higher pace, which means that despite favorable changes in the federal loan repayment options available to law school graduates working in the public interest, there are still significant economic disincentives at play as law students consider whether or not to pursue public interest legal careers.”

To read the press release, click here.

MLSC announces 2012 legal services awards

The Maryland Legal Services Corporation announced its 2012 legal services awardees, to be honored at MLSC’s annual awards reception, Celebrating Thirty Years, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.  at the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel.

Herbert S. Garten will receive the Robert M. Bell Medal for Access to Justice, named for the chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals. Peter A. Holland of the Holland Law Firm will receive the Arthur W. Machen, Jr. Award for his significant contributions in the area of consumer law.  The Benjamin L. Cardin Distinguished Service Award will go to Brenda Bratton Blom, professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, and Lisae C. Jordan, acting executive director of Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault. The William L. Marbury Outstanding Advocate Award for a non-attorney who has demonstrated outstanding service representing the rights and legal needs of low-income persons will be presented to John Wheeler, an intake specialist and paralegal at the Maryland Disability Law Center for the past 30 years. The Maryland Office of the Attorney General has been named as this year’s recipient of the Herbert S. Garten Public Citizen Award for its long-standing leadership in access to justice initiatives.

MLSC was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1982 to receive and distribute funds to nonprofit organizations that provide civil legal assistance to low-income persons. From its inception, MLSC has made grants totaling over $164 million to help provide services in nearly 2 million legal matters for Maryland’s families in areas of family, housing, consumer, employment, health care and other civil legal matters.

Legal Aid sponsors 2 pro bono events

Two Pro Bono Days–free legal clinics–will be sponsored by Maryland Legal Aid later this month. The first is Saturday, Oct. 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Randallstown branch of the Baltimore County Public Library, 8604 Liberty Road in Randallstown.

The second is Saturday, Oct. 27, at Maryland Legal Aid’s downtown Baltimore office, 500 E. Lexington Street. Volunteer attorneys will be on hand to provide individual free consultations in the areas of divorce and custody, landlord/tenant, wills & advance directives, bankruptcy, expungements, government benefits, criminal and consumer law.

The Baltimore County event is sponsored by Maryland Legal Aid and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. The city event is sponsored by Maryland Legal Aid, Legal Services for the Elderly, the Maryland State Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, and the Young Lawyers Division of the Bar Association of Baltimore City.

The events are free and no registration is required. Bring any relevant documents with you. For more information (and for private lawyers to volunteer), call 443/451-2810

The state of legal aid

Legal aid offices across the country are being decimated by funding cuts. Host Dick Gordon of NPR’s The Story speaks to a man making do with increased pressures and less money. John Whitfield runs a legal aid service in Virginia– and he says he’s having to turn people away. Click here to hear the interview.