Category Archives: fundraising

Attorney General Doug Gansler presents Legal Aid with $3.6 million from national foreclosure settlement

wilhelmgansler011013_smallMaryland Attorney General Doug Gansler presented Legal Aid with a check for $3.6 million at a press conference yesterday in the Baltimore office. The money originated from the $26 billion National Mortgage Settlement. Five other legal aid programs also received checks: Civil Justice ($1.4 million), the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service ($930,000), the St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center ($600,000), the Pro Bono Resource Center ($565,000) and the Public Justice Center ($510,000).

“The people being recognized today do God’s work,” Gansler (right in photo, along with Legal Aid executive director Wilhelm Joseph and Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development Carol Gilbert, left) said at the press conference yesterday. “This money will help more than 10,000 families keep their homes, not be victims of predatory lending and get thrown out of their homes. People need housing counselors and lawyers to navigate the deal, so we’re giving more than $7 million to these six organizations.”

“This is a very important occasion and I see lots of smiles,” Joseph said. “Usually, people in this lobby aren’t smiling, because they have very serious legal issues. We appreciate the attorney general for his leadership in a national role in forging the national foreclosure settlement. Because of him, Maryland ended up with a substantial settlement.”

Legal aid benefits all Marylanders

From an op-ed in today’s Baltimore Sun by Maryland Legal Aid board member Erek Barron:

This just in: Maryland civil legal service programs not only benefit the poor but also save the state millions per year. Legal assistance to low-income Marylanders is a significant economic boost to the state and benefits more than just those receiving aid, according to a report just released by the Maryland Judiciary’s Access to Justice Commission.

Legal services mean a lot more than just helping people without means get access to the courts. For example, these services help low-income residents receive the government benefits to which they are entitled; prevent homelessness by avoiding eviction; and help protect against domestic violence.

In 2012, Maryland legal service programs preserved or found housing for almost 1,000 individuals and helped obtain 2,825 civil protective orders for clients. But the economic impact of legal services for the poor went far beyond the families helped, creating $190 million in total economic impact, including $12.6 million in economic stimulus to the state, $3.7 million in state expenditures saved, and $882,096 in tax revenue.

Economic impact studies in a number of other states have reported similar results, potentially changing the way these services will be viewed going forward. For example, a 2011 study of Virginia legal aid programs found a $5.27 return for every dollar invested. Another study, released last month, found that legal aid programs in Ohio netted a $109 million total economic impact to the state. The provision of civil legal services for the indigent can no longer be seen simply as a “feel good” initiative but also as an important economic tool.

To read the entire column, click here (behind a pay wall).

Franklin’s Restaurant to benefit Legal Aid

On Monday, November 5,  Franklin’s Restaurant, Brewery & General Store in Hyattsville will donate 20 percent of designated receipts to Maryland Legal Aid.  To participate, customers just need to go there to eat or buy something in the restaurant or store, and tell their server/cashier that they want their purchase to benefit Legal Aid.

Franklin’s, named a “Best Beer Bar” by D.C. Foodies, is at 5121 Baltimore Avenue in Hyattsville.  Dining room hours are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; the bar is open until midnight. Stop by anytime during restaurant and store hours, or join Legal Aid staff for happy hour from 4-6:30 p.m.

Funding cuts expected to result in nearly 750 fewer staff positions at LSC-funded programs

According to a recent survey conducted by the Legal Services Corporation, local legal aid programs expect to reduce staffing by nearly 750 employees in 2012–including 350 attorneys– because of funding cuts. This represents a reduction of 8 percent of full-time-equivalent positions from the end of 2011.

Nationwide, programs receiving grants from LSC reported significant reductions in funding, staffing, and operations.  Eighty-seven percent of the respondents report that their total (LSC and non-LSC) funding in 2012 will decrease significantly from 2011.  Eighty-two percent of the programs with reserves expect to use those funds in 2012 to continue operations.  One hundred thirty-three of the 134 LSC grantees responded to the survey.

So far, LSC-funded Maryland Legal Aid has not reduced staff or closed any offices.  But that could change if the next General Assembly doesn’t extend or make permanent court filing fee surcharge increases that expire in 2013, said Legal Aid Executive Director Wilhelm Joseph. The surcharge increases, enacted nearly two years ago, supports civil legal programs that help low-income Marylanders across the state.

To read the LSC press release, click here.

Pro bono solo donates his fee award

Towson solo attorney Danial V. Schmitt donated $3,000 to three civil legal programs–money from attorney fees he’d received in the settlement of a landlord/tenant dispute he’d handled pro bono.

Ann Lembo, chief attorney in Maryland Legal Aid’s Baltimore County office, said this was the first time a lawyer donated attorneys’ fees back to the organization in a pro bono case,” the Daily Record reported today. The other organizations getting donations are the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service and the Maryland Disability Law Center.

“This is the first [donation back], and we are very happy,” Lembo said. “We are just really surprised Dan did that and donated the funds to us as well as a couple other legal organizations. And he got a great result for the client, too.”

Schmitt represented a woman in a case against her landlord, the article continued. A sewage backup in the house she was renting damaged her clothing, personal possessions and electronics. She filed suit initially on her own, seeking $5,800 for property damage and failure to return her security deposit.

“It was just such an outrageous situation,” Lembo said. “We thought she needed help, and we would have loved to be able to help her, but we are just swamped with calls.”

“Dan always does a great job for his clients,” Lembo added. “He always treats them with the utmost respect. In this case, he really went above and beyond for a pro bono client. We are really happy to have his help.”

To read the article (behind a pay wall), click here.

Weinberg Foundation staff picks Legal Aid for grant

A staff member at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation selected Maryland Legal Aid as a recipient of a $10,000 grant, The Baltimore Sun reported earlier this week. It’s one of a unique block of grants that turns 16 eligible Weinberg employees into grant makers by allowing them to give $10,000 to the nonprofit of their choice.

Marci Hunn, program director for workforce redevelopment, has worked five years for the Owings Mills-based foundation, which annually provides millions in grants to nonprofits that serve the economically disadvantaged,” the article said. “This marks the fourth year she has been eligible for the give-away program and her enthusiasm has not waned, she said.

“‘I am thrilled by it each time,'” Hunn said.

“In the past, she has chosen nonprofits that deal with jobs training. But this year, the mother of a newborn and a pre-schooler looked for an organization that assists children. She chose Maryland Legal Aid and asked that her grant be directed to Donna’s Place at the agency’s Baltimore city location. The space provides the agency’s youngest clients, who most often are in foster care, with toys, computers, books, puzzles, paper and crayons and other things to help them relax and learn, according to its website. For several weeks in the summer, staff devote three mornings to reading to the children and creating a craft project.

“‘We can choose any group within our guidelines,’ Hunn said. ‘When I looked around, I found so many gaps for children in foster care and really wanted to do something for them. Small things can really make a difference for these children. Donna’s Place is a sweet opportunity for these kids and gives them a respite from worry.'”

To read the article, click here.

Ivey elected MLSC board chair

MLSC board chair Glenn Ivey

Glenn F. Ivey, a partner at Venable LLP and former state’s attorney for Prince George’s Co., will be taking the helm of the Maryland Legal Services Corp., following F. Vernon Boozer’s nine-year tenure as MLSC chair. Other officers elected at the meeting are Treasurer Nancy A. Sachitano of Sachitano & Associates LLC in Rockville and Secretary, Ex Officio Susan M. Erlichman, MLSC’s executive director.

Ivey was the former chief prosecutor for Prince George’s Co., where he created specialty prosecution units targeting domestic violence, gangs, gun violence and economic crime, and launched intervention and prevention programs aimed at reducing youth crime. He has served as chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission, Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Department of Justice and is an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. He completed his undergraduate studies at Princeton University and received a J.D.  from Harvard Law School.

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. Maryland Legal Aid is MLSC’s largest grantee.