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National Pro Bono Week: Anne Arundel County

Posted by Joan Bellistri on October 22, 2012

This year for the National Pro Bono Week Celebration, October 21- 27, 2012 the Anne Arundel County Local Pro Bono Committee seeks to encourage pro bono representation by Anne Arundel County attorneys.  The campaign to increase the numbers of pro bono volunteers began with a blast email sent to all members of the AABA. The text of that email follows:

Pro Bono Week News from the Local Pro Bono Committee

The National Pro Bono Celebration focuses the nation’s attention on the increased need for pro bono services during these challenging economic times and celebrates the outstanding work of lawyers who volunteer their services throughout the year. The Anne Arundel County Local Pro Bono Committee is calling on all Anne Arundel attorneys to provide pro bono service. We know the need is great and that more attorneys from our county are needed.

A Word from the Bench:

I represent the Circuit Court on the Anne Arundel County Local Pro Bono Committee.  I am a strong advocate for local attorneys volunteering their time to represent litigants who cannot afford counsel.  In my experience, there is now an even greater need for volunteer lawyers than there has been in the past. I have seen Plaintiffs come into court without any witnesses and state they do not want to call themselves as a witness either.  In that event, there is no evidence.  In some cases, if the Plaintiff, himself, is encouraged to take the stand, the litigant will often just sit there, in the witness box, not saying a word without any knowledge of what his or her burden of production is.  This results in unjust and inequitable results. 

Through my participation in the Pro Bono Committee, I learned that in 2009 Anne Arundel County ranked last in the state in the number of lawyers who provided 50 or more hours of pro bono service.  Anne Arundel has since moved to the twentieth position.  But why not make Anne Arundel County come in first in the number of lawyers who volunteer?  Please consider donating your time and expertise to such a worthy cause.

                                                                        Judge Pamela L. North

 Opportunities:

● The Anne Arundel County Local Pro Bono Committee has partnered with the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) for the placement of  Anne Arundel County residents in need of pro bono representation. The Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service reports that many cases needing representation in Anne Arundel county are taken by attorneys from other counties.  It is easy to add your name to the MVLS roster. Just visit the volunteer page on the MVLS website and simply fill out the online form. MVLS supports its volunteers with malpractice insurance, mentors, free training, use of their offices to meet with clients and reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses.

● The Foreclosure crisis continues to affect our state with Anne Arundel County ranking fifth in the state in the number of foreclosures. The Foreclosure Prevention Pro Bono Project needs volunteer attorneys to help. Volunteers receive free training and are asked to provide two homeowners pro bono representation in their foreclosure cases and/or provide pro bono representation to one homeowner and volunteer at one foreclosure solutions workshop where homeowners receive free legal advice.  The Project provides access to malpractice insurance and mentoring support.

Anne Arundel County Attorneys are invited to attend the newly developed program on Foreclosure Mediation on November 2.  Since the basic training is a prerequisite you will be asked to view the webcast of the basic program for background. Your invitation follows:

Pro Bono Resource Center and Civil Justice are pleased to offer the below pro bono training program, A Practical Guide for Representing Homeowners at Foreclosure Mediation, as part of Maryland’s Foreclosure Prevention Pro Bono Project.  Since the Maryland foreclosure mediation program took effect in July 2010, we have learned a lot about how to achieve positive outcomes through mediation and we want to share our tips and strategies with you.  This training program is designed for existing Project volunteers who have already taken the Project’s basic training course.  If you have not yet taken the basic training course, please contact Annie Brinkmann of Pro Bono Resource Center to gain access to the webcast of the basic course (443-703-3050 or abrinkmann@probonomd.org).

Friday, November 2, 2012, 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM 

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law – ROOM 205

500 W. Baltimore Street

Baltimore, MD 21201-1786 

  To register, please visit www.probonomd.org/foreclosure-prevention-training

 Questions?  Please contact Annie Brinkmann at 443-703-3050 or abrinkmann@probonomd.org.   

 If you are interested in participating but cannot attend on November 2, please complete the registration process indicating that you would like to receive the webcast of this training once it becomes available.

● For those who prefer to donate to a worthy organization, the local committee suggests that donations be made to the Anne Arundel Legal Aid Bureau through AAcares.org.

Celebrate Pro Bono Week:

You can find out more about pro bono opportunities for Anne Arundel attorneys at the AACPLL Self Help and Pro Bono WIKI.  Posters of Anne Arundel Pro Bono Volunteers will be on display in the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library during Pro Bono Week.  Visit the library to see what other Anne Arundel attorneys have done to volunteer and to add your name to the roster of those “doing good.” (There will be chocolate.)

Please make the Local Pro Bono Committee’s campaign to increase pro bono service a success as we celebrate Pro Bono week this year Volunteer now!

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