Category Archives: Equal Justice Council

Awardees named for Equal Justice Council recognition breakfast

The Equal Justice Council, the fundraising arm of Maryland Legal Aid, announced this year’s awardees to be honored at its annual recognition breakfast at Camden Yards on May 25. The guest speaker is the Hon. A C Wharton, Jr., Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee.

Paul D. Bekman of Salsbury, Clements, Bekman, Marder & Adkins and Scott A. Livingston of Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan & Silver will be given Champions of Justice awards. The Equal Justice Associates’ Leadership award goes to Lisa Hall Johnson of Dickstein Shapiro and the Pacesetter awards will be given to Ober Kaler and Whiteford, Taylor & Preston. This year’s Trailblazers are DLA Piper, Miles & Stockbridge and Venable.

The event is Wednesday, May 25 at 7:45 a.m. in the Camden Yards Banquet Room, 6th floor. Free parking is provided on Stadium Lot C. While the event is free, reservations are required by May 11. Call 410/951-7759 or email


Legal Services president visits Legal Aid

James Sandman, the new president of the federal Legal Services Corp., visited the Baltimore office of Maryland Legal Aid today. He met with Legal Aid staff, members of the judiciary, the private bar and another major funder.

“I’m reminded by hearing you speak of why I’m at LSC,” Sandman said after hearing comments about Legal Aid (an LSC grantee) and budgetary problems facing programs that help the poor, disabled and disadvantaged. “The people I admire most in the legal profession work in legal services, devoting their careers to helping others.”

Sandman said that Legal Aid is nationally known and “sets the standard. The people  sitting at this table are an example of what needs to happen at other legal service providers. It works in other places, but not as smoothly as it does here. It needs to be replicated–and that’s part of my new job.”

Sandman said that his priorities are to increase LSC’s funding, to expand awareness of legal services in Congress and to build better alliances with other groups that serve the same populations as LSC, such as private foundations.

Also at the meeting: Retired Court of Appeals Judge Irma Raker, Maryland District Court Chief Judge Ben Clyburn, Equal Justice Council co-chairs Andrew Jay Graham and Ben Rosenberg, Maryland Legal Services Corp. executive director Susan Erlichman, Legal Aid president Warren Oliveri, and former LSC board member Herbert Garten.

Private bar contributions to Legal Aid break record

With Maryland Legal Aid’s 100th birthday right around the corner, the Equal Justice Council concluded a record-breaking 2010 annual giving campaign.

“We’re looking to build on that for Legal Aid’s centennial in 2011,” said EJC co-chair Benjamin Rosenberg. The E JC, the fundraising arm of Legal Aid, consists of private attorneys who personally contacted law firms in Maryland to enlist their support.

The outstanding individuals and firms who were part of the campaign will be honored at the 14th Annual EJC Recognition Breakfast on May 25.

Legal Aid, a private nonprofit law firm, is the largest provider of free civil legal help to low-income Marylanders, the elderly, and abused and neglected children, with 13 offices around the state.

Chief judge urges managing partners at top firms to support Legal Aid


Maryland District Court Judge Ben C. Clyburn


Maryland District Court Chief Judge Ben C. Clyburn told 30 managing partners of the state’s top law firms that the legal system is “facing a crisis.” He spoke at Wednesday’s 4th annual Managing Partners Breakfast, sponsored by the Equal Justice Council, the fundraising arm of Maryland Legal Aid. The meeting was hosted by Miles & Stockbridge.

Referring to the recession and decreases in funding for civil legal services, the chief judge added, “In 30 years I’ve not seen a situation like this. We’re facing the perfect storm. At district court,  70 to 80 percent of litigants appear without legal representation. We really have a gap in justice. That’s why I’m asking you to support Legal Aid.”

Clyburn said the judicial system faces “irreparable harm.”

“The confidence and trust of the people will be impacted and we won’t be able to meet our core mission, the fair administration of justice,” Clyburn said. “As a profession, you must stand up and do your fair share by helping Marylanders who can’t help themselves.”

Managing partners and firm representatives at the meeting: EJC co-chair Philip M. Andrews (Kramon & Graham), Rignal W. Baldwin, Jr. (Baldwin, Kagan & Gormley, LLC), James Bartlett III (Semmes, Bowen & Semmes), Michael Baxter (Baxter, Baker, Sidle, Conn & Jones, P.A.), C. Christopher Brown ( Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP), William E. Carlson ( Shapiro, Sher, Guinot & Sandler, P.A.),
Darlene Davis (Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver), Jessica duHoffmann (Miles & Stockbridge, P.C.), Robert Ferguson (Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew, P.A.),
John B. Frisch (Miles & Stockbridge, P.C.), Alan F. M. Garten (Fedder & Garten, P.A.), Yale Ginsburg (Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler, LLC), EJC co-chair Andrew Jay Graham (Kramon & Graham, P.A.), Barry Greenberg (Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, LLP), Kelly Tubman Hardy (DLA Piper US LLP), Peter Keith (Gallagher, Evelius & Jones, LLP), Kevin Kelehan (Carney, Kelehan, Bresler, Bennett & Scherr), Albert Mezzanotte, Jr. (Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, L.L.P.), Charles O. Monk II (Saul Ewing LLP), William H. Murphy, Jr. (The Murphy Firm), EJC co-chair Benjamin Rosenberg (Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, LLP), Sanford Schreiber (Blades & Rosenfeld, P.A.), Steven Silverman (Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White), Howard Stevens (Wright, Constable & Skeen, L.L.P.), Steven Thomas (Thomas & Libowitz, P.A.), Raymond Truitt (Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP), Thomas J.S. Waxter, III (Goodell, DeVries, Leech & Dann, LLP), Jeffrey Wothers (Niles, Barton & Wilmer, LLP), and Jefferson V. Wright (Miles & Stockbridge, P.C.).

Volunteer your time

From today’s On the Record blog from the Daily Record: “Ben Rosenberg of Rosenberg Martin Greenberg had a pretty strong reaction to contributor Joe Surkiewicz’s column in this week’s Maryland Lawyer section,” wrote reporter Caryn Tamber. “Surkiewicz, the director of communications at Maryland Legal Aid, wrote about the tremendous need for more volunteer lawyers.

“Rosenberg, co-chair of the Legal Aid’s Equal Justice Council, which works to fund Legal Aid, called me Monday afternoon to enthusiastically second Surkiewicz’s message.

“’As a result of a number of factors, all of which have sort of come together in sort of like a perfect storm, the demand for legal services to the underrepresented and people who can’t afford legal representation has exploded, while at the same time what we had thought of as a stable funding source has imploded, and that’s the IOLTA funding,’ Rosenberg said.”

Assistant U.S. AG Tony West addresses Equal Justice Council breakfast

Tony West, assistant attorney general of the civil division in the U.S. Dept. of Justice (left, with Maryland Legal Aid executive director Wilhelm Joseph), spoke at the 13th Annual Equal Justice Council Awards & Recognition Breakfast at Camden Yards May 20. “I’m especially glad to join you in honoring the important work of the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau and Equal Justice Council this morning,” West told 175 judges, lawyers, law professors, political leaders and other legal professionals. “You provide this community with needed legal services, you secure access to justice by facilitating access to our courts, you provide hope to many who have lost it. In short, you make real the promise Adlai Stevenson spoke of when he observed that ‘the essence of democracy is the dignity of [the individual].’”

West also spoke about the “courage to care.”

“It’s the courage of Odella Oliver, a senior paralegal here at the Bureau, whose persistence in demonstrating that the Social Security Administration had been wrong in terminating a client’s benefits ensured that a 10-year-old child suffering from severe mental disability would continue to receive her childhood SSI disability benefits,” West said. “Or staff attorney Melissa Kilmer who helped protect an elderly client from falling victim to a simple mortgage fraud scheme that could have resulted in foreclosure of the woman’s home. Or any of the award recipients we honor this morning whose examples are inviting all of us to be our best selves.”

Others on hand at the annual event included Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, Baltimore City Circuit Court judges Pamela J. White (the event’s emcee) and Robert B. Kershaw, Rep. John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.), and Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler. This year’s award recipients: F. Paul Bland, Michelle J. Dickenson, Neil E. Duke, and Goldman & Minton P.C. (Champion of Justice awards); Erek Barron (Equal Justice Associates’ Leadership Award); Quinn, Gordon & Wolf (Pacesetter Award); DLA Piper US LLP and Venable LLP (Trailblazer awards); and George W. McManus Jr. (Executive Director’s Award).

The Equal Justice Council, co-chaired by Andrew Jay Graham and Benjamin Rosenberg, is the private-bar fundraising arm of Maryland Legal Aid. Photo: Eric Stocklin.

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Tony West to keynote Equal Justice Council breakfast

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Tony West

Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, Tony West wil be the keynote speaker at the May 20 Equal Justice Council Awards & Recognition Breakfast at Camden Yards.  The Equal Justice Council is the private-bar fundraising arm of Maryland Legal Aid.

West was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division on January 22, 2009. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 20, 2009. As the largest litigating division in the Department of Justice, the Civil Division represents the United States, its departments and agencies, Congress, Cabinet officers, and other federal employees in lawsuits across the country. Some examples include: defending the recent health care reform legislation against recent challenges; litigating habeas corpus petitionsbrought by detainees at Guantanamo Bay; and providing support and guidance to agencies responding to the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  West has focused on these traditional areas, as well as bolstering the Civil Division’s civil enforcement efforts, such as bringing civil actions to recover taxpayer money lost to fraud and abuse. Since April 2009, the Civil Division has recovered over $4 billion through affirmative civil enforcement.

In addition, West has emphasized the Civil Division’s responsibility to enforce thenation’s consumer protection laws. Since April 2009, the Office of Consumer Litigation has
convicted 33 defendants and imposed criminal penalties exceeding $1.3 billion for illegal activities in connection with defrauding consumers. During this same time period, 23
defendants were sentenced to some form of incarceration, receiving a total of over 85 years.  West’s most recent appointment marks his return to the Department of Justice. From
1993 through 1994, he served as a Special Assistant to the Deputy Attorney General under the direction of U.S. Deputy Attorneys General Philip Heymann and Jamie Gorelick, as well as Attorney General Janet Reno. As a Special Assistant, West worked on the development of national crime policy, including the 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill.

From 1994 to 1999, West served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of California, where he prosecuted child sexual exploitation, fraud, narcotics distribution, interstate theft and high tech crime. As a federal prosecutor,  West led the successful investigation, prosecution and appeal of the Orchid Club case, at the time the largest
Internet child pornography production and distribution ring prosecution in history. West later served as a state Special Assistant Attorney General in California, advising
the California Attorney General on matters including identity theft, the Microsoft antitrust litigation, civil rights, and police officer training.

Prior to returning to the Justice Department,  West was a litigation partner at Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco.  West graduated with honors from Harvard College, where he served as publisher of the Harvard Political Review, and received his law degree from Stanford Law School, where he was elected president of the Stanford Law Review.