Maryland 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.”
Posted in access to justice, foreclosure, fundraising
Tagged Carol Gilbert, Civil Justice, Doug Gansler, Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development, Maryland Legal Aid, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, Pro Bono Resource Center. Public Justice Center, St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, Wilhelm Joseph
Ben Civiletti (left), Wilhelm Joseph, Chief Judge Robert M. Bell (right)
Former U.S. Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti (and retired partner and past chair at Venable) was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Equal Justice Council, the private-bar fundraising arm of Maryland Legal Aid.
“I’ve known Ben longer than anyone in this room,” said EJC co-chair Benjamin Rosenberg to a group of 35 partners from large Baltimore firms. “I was a summer clerk in 1968 and Ben wasn’t even a partner yet at Venable — but he was the leader of his peers and senior lawyers. In 1977, he went to Washington, and I became a partner. It felt like being a member of the Colts and Unitas had just left!”
Accepting the award, Civiletti, 77, said Maryland is fortunate to have leaders such as Court of Appeals Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, Legal Aid executive director Wilhelm Joseph and the EJC.
“They help people who need our help desperately,” Civiletti told the lawyers. “They stepped up when others stepped down. Ask yourself this question: Could we have any semblance to equal justice in Maryland without Legal Aid?”
To read the entire Daily Record article (behind a pay wall), click here.
Wilhelm Joseph (left), Ben Civiletti
Maryland Legal Aid Executive Director Wilhelm Joseph was one of three guest speakers at a retirement dinner last week for Venable partner (and former U.S. attorney general) Ben Civiletti (right in photo with Joseph), a longtime friend of Legal Aid.
Civiletti is a former Legal Aid board member—and still ardent supporter of Legal Aid. “Apart from glowing tributes made about Ben by several speakers, including Wilhelm, the highlight for Legal Aid was Venable’s contribution of $50,000 in honor of Ben, to support Legal Aid’s continuing work,” said Legal Aid board president Warren Oliveri. “This is in addition to their normal, trendsetting annual contribution.”
Richard Wasserman, a Venable partner and Legal Aid board member, said the gift is a reflection of the firm’s long-standing and close relationship with Legal Aid. “And it’s in honor of Ben’s close relationship with Wilhelm and Legal Aid.”
Added Joseph: “Venable has raised the bar for private attorney support of legal assistance for low-income people in Maryland. It is a special honor that they have done this in the name of a remarkable private lawyer and public servant—Ben Civiletti.”
The Legal Services Corporation co-hosted a White House forum to discuss the state of civil legal assistance for low-income Americans. At the forum, President Barack Obama addressed a group that included U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh, and former U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, as well as six directors of LSC-funded programs from across the nation (including Wilhelm Joseph of Maryland Legal Aid). Making civil legal assistance available to low-income Americans is “central to our notion of equal justice under the law,” the president said. He pledged to be a “fierce defender and advocate” for legal services. For more last month’s forum, click here.
Artist Josee Nadeau
Examiner.com profiled celebrity artist Josée Nadeau, who painted at last fall’s Maryland Legal Aid 100th anniversary gala in Baltimore.
“Best known as the protégée for the Curator of Claude Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France for 10 years, Josée Nadeau was the Celebrity Artist for the Stars at the LiveStyle Entertainment Film Lounge and Supper Club at Sundance 2012 where 27 events were held, including the HBO Networks Party, The Creative Coalition Spotlight Initiative Awards, Sundance Soirée, film premiere parties (Filly Brown, Wish You Were Here, etc) and too many others to list,” wrote columnist Liz Kelly.
“During Harry Belafonte’s speech about human rights at this 100-year anniversary of Legal Aid in Maryland, Josée did a live painting of this Hollywood icon in 20 minutes. Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley, the First Lady Katie O’Malley, Chief Justice Robert Bell and Wilhelm Joseph, the head of Legal Aid, also did the unveiling of her commemorative piece ‘Dust of Diamonds.'”
To read the entire column, click here.
Entertainer and human rights activist Harry Belafonte
From Maryland Legal Aid board member Erek Barron, Esq., in the Daily Record:
“The Maryland Legal Aid Bureau celebrated its centennial anniversary Saturday night in Baltimore and keynote speaker Harry Belafonte struck a beautiful chord. Both Belafonte and Legal Aid Executive Director Wilhelm Joseph actually sang together on stage,” Barron wrote in the “Generation J.D.” blog.
“Belafonte entertained the crowd but also offered serious sentiments stemming from his experience as an international human rights activist,” Barron continued. “The message was right on time for an organization reenergized around a human rights framework.
“Belafonte acknowledged that he was ‘preaching to the choir.’ But he quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, saying, “it’s important that you preach to the choir because if you don’t they could stop singing,” Barron wrote.
To read the entire post, click here.
(From left to right, Pamela and Harry Belafonte, Taria and Erek Barron.)
Legal Aid Executive Director Wilhelm H. Joseph Jr.
Yesterday’s Marc Steiner Show featured a segment on Maryland Legal Aid’s upcoming centenary celebration with executive director Wilhelm Joseph, University of Baltimore law professor Jose’ Anderson (author of an upcoming history of Legal Aid) and Ned Bamberger III from M&T Bank (the centenary event’s lead sponsor).
To listen to the podcast, click here.