Tag Archives: Wilhelm H. Joseph Jr.

Legal Aid mourns Woody Preston

Wilbur D. “Woody” Preston Jr., a founder of Whiteford, Taylor & Preston and the Maryland Legal Aid’s Equal Justice Council, died Monday at age 90, the Daily Record reported today.

From the article:

While his legal specialty at the firm was complex commercial litigation, Preston also undertook with vigor the cause of providing legal help for the indigent through the Legal Aid Bureau.

Preston was instrumental in securing not only a headquarters for Legal Aid, but also in raising awareness of the organization in the legal community. Wilhelm H. Joseph Jr., executive director of Maryland Legal Aid, said fundraising for the bureau in 1996 was around $5,000.

Founded in 1997 with Preston as its first chairman, the Equal Justice Council now generates more than $750,000 a year from various foundations, law firms and individuals.

“I think lawyers coming up behind him, chronologically, would see from his example that you could be an excellent attorney with a profitable firm and still give back in a serious way to the legal community and the community in which you live and work,” said Andrew J. Graham, who now co-chairs the council.

Decatur H. Miller, partner emeritus at DLA Piper LLP, also worked with Preston for years on the Equal Justice Council.

“He was a true believer in the need for legal services for poor people,” said. “He didn’t just pay lip service to that notion either, he put a lot of work into it.”

Miller got his start with the EJC after speaking with Preston about fundraising for the organization. He said he doubted anyone but someone with Preston’s reputation could have achieved the response he got from the legal community.

“He went around to the leading law firms and raised a lot of money, mainly because people respected him so much,” Miller said. “It was an amazing soft sell that everyone, including me, responded to.”

Joseph, of Maryland Legal Aid, met Preston when he took over as executive director of the organization in 1996. New to the area, Joseph said he leaned on Preston to help him get in touch with the legal community.

“When I think of Woody, I think of his caring and his commitment and his ability to move people with a dose of humor …,” Joseph said. “He was the kind of guy who worked and played well with others.”

Joseph recalled one incident, early in his tenure, when he had a big speech to give to potential donors. He said that he and Preston were very anxious to make a good impression.

“I have an accent and I tend to talk too fast at times,” Joseph said. “And, Woody really wanted this talk to go well so we worked out a hand signal he would flash me if I started to talk too fast. It was pretty funny actually, and we laughed about it later for sure.”

Legal Aid’s Wilhelm Joseph tapped as a “Most Admired CEO” by Daily Record

Legal Aid Executive Director Wilhelm H. Joseph Jr.

Maryland Legal Aid executive director Wilhelm H. Joseph Jr. was selected by The Daily Record as a Most Admired CEO in the nonprofit, over $10 million revenue category. The inaugural event will take place Sept. 13, beginning at 5:30 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the Inner Harbor.

Maryland’s Most Admired CEOs will honor 30 men and women who were nominated by their colleagues and associates. The nominees were evaluated in terms of leadership and vision, competitiveness and service, community leadership and service, financial performance and growth and corporate leadership and board service.

Nominees were broken down into six categories: private companies with 150 or more employees, private companies with 51 to 149 employees, private companies with 50 or fewer employees, public companies, nonprofits with more than $10 million in annual revenue and nonprofits with less than $10 million in annual revenue.

“The Daily Record is proud to add Maryland’s Most Admired CEOs to our list of prestigious events,” said Suzanne E. Fischer-Huettner, publisher of The Daily Record. “We think it is especially important that the people being honored are not only successful in every way but are also admired within their organizations for what they do.”

Tickets may be purchased at http://www.thedailyrecord.com or by calling 443-524-8100 or by emailing Tina.Crow@TheDailyRecord.com. Tickets are $75 plus tax until Sept. 6. After that date they are $79 plus tax.

Click here to visit the Maryland’s Most Admired CEOs event page.

Civil Gideon: Legal dimensions of the civil right to counsel debate

A panel of legal experts will discuss the legal arguments surrounding the “Civil Gideon” debate as it has played out nationwide and at home in Maryland on Monday, May 21, at 6:30 p.m. at the University of Maryland School of Law, 500 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore. To RSVP, go to http://www.acslaw.org/CivilGideonRSVP

The panelists are  Debra Gardner, legal director of the Public Justice Center, Wilhelm H. Joseph, Jr., executive director of Maryland Legal Aid and  Michael Millemann, the Jacob A. France Professor of Public Interest Law at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

One of the most fundamental rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution is the right to receive legal representation free of charge during a criminal proceeding. Indigent civil litigants, however, have no similar right even if they are facing a potential loss of housing, loss of child custody, or loss of their sole source of income – consequences that, for many, may be more dire than a prison sentence. Advocates for “Civil Gideon” rights from around the country have sought to persuade courts to recognize this right under the federal constitution, state constitutions, as well as federal and state statutory law.

The event is sponsored by the American Constitution Society Maryland Lawyer Chapter, the ACS University of Maryland School of Law Student Chapter, and the Alliance of Black Women Attorneys.

Budget cut hits region’s legal aid groups

A 14-percent budget cut the federal Legal Services Corp. has D.C.-area legal aid programs scrambling, the Washington Post reported last week.

“Neighborhood Legal Services Program in the District, Legal Services of Northern Virginia and Maryland Legal Aid are consolidating offices and jobs, freezing salaries and more aggressively pursuing private funding and partnerships with law schools to share resources and manpower,” the article said.

“Maryland Legal Aid, the largest civil legal services provider in the region with about 300 employees in 12 offices throughout the state, has not laid off any staff and does not plan to dismiss any staff in 2012, said executive director Wilhelm Joseph, Jr.,” the article continued.

“To compensate for a 15 percent cut ($670,000 less) in LSC funding — paired with a 5 percent cut ($550,000 less) in funding from Maryland Legal Services Corp., the state counterpart to LSC — the nonprofit is looking to replace retiring staff with lower-paid new hires, tighten up travel and other expenses, and intensify fundraising campaigns aimed at law firms, foundations and individual donors.”

To read the article, click here.

Baltimore Sun: A Busy 100th for Legal Aid

The lead story in the business section of today’s Baltimore Sun focuses on Maryland Legal Aid on its centenary.

“As Marylanders lose jobs, homes and savings, they are turning in record numbers to the state’s largest provider of legal services to the poor,” wrote reporter Andrea Seigel. “The Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this month, enters its second century with a growing caseload involving the newly needy.”

“They are coming out of the woodwork,” said Wilhelm H. Joseph Jr., the agency’s executive director. “You have people who are formerly middle class and for the first time in their lives, they have lost their jobs.”

To read the article, click here.

Human rights symposium kicks off Legal Aid centenary

Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (left), was the keynote speaker at last week’s joint University of Maryland/University of Baltimore law schools human rights symposium celebrating Legal Aid’s 100th anniversary.

“I’m impressed by Legal Aid’s visionary, out-of-the-box thinking to use a human rights framework,” Henderson said. “You play an important role in the human rights movement by helping the poor by preventing illegal evictions and making sure that parents don’t lose custody. I salute Legal Aid’s efforts to build a broader understanding of human rights. Your work is vital.”

Other speakers included UM Law Dean Phoebe Haddon, UB Law Dean Phillip Closius, Howard University law professor Lisa Crooms, University of Indiana law professor Florence Roisman, ACLU executive director Susan Goering, University of the District of Columbia law professor Edgar Cahn, and UM law professor Michael Millemann. Also in the picture: Legal Aid executive director Wilhelm H. Joseph Jr.

Legal Aid director Wilhelm Joseph to receive Cardin Award

Legal Aid Executive Director Wilhelm H. Joseph Jr.

Executive Director Wilhelm Joseph will receive the Maryland Legal Services Corporation’s Benjamin L. Cardin Distinguished Service Award, awarded each December to an outstanding public interest law attorney. “Mr. Joseph, who has led the Legal Aid Bureau for 14 years, has advocated for the poor through his long civil rights career, his efforts with the filing fee initiatives in the Maryland General Assembly and many other accomplishments,” MLSC’s press release said. The awards reception is Monday, December 6, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel.