AACPLL Blog

Law Library News

PRO BONO IS NOT SO SCARY

Posted by Joan Bellistri on October 24, 2016

pro-bono-banner-2016As we celebrate Pro Bono during the National Pro Bono Celebration, the Local Pro Bono Committee hopes that Anne Arundel County attorneys will consider the many opportunities for pro bono service in our county.  But before we talk about the how of pro bono, perhaps we should talk about why.  As an attorney you have the power to make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable in Anne Arundel County – the elderly, children and the poor.  Your help can be the deciding factor as to whether someone has a place to live, custody of their child, or a job.

There are so many ways that attorneys can provide pro bono service in Anne Arundel County – from brief legal advice to full representation.   The many opportunities available to Anne Arundel County Attorneys are included here. 
Maryland Free Legal Answers

This new email based service was launched in Maryland on October 6, 2016.  This ABA initiative allows Maryland attorneys to provide legal advice via email to low income Marylanders.  Registered volunteer attorneys can choose the issues that they want to answer and the time when they can answer.  More information can be found here on  the website https://maryland.freelegalanswers.org/Attorneys/Account/Agreement

And sign up is here: https://maryland.freelegalanswers.org/

MVLS – Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service acts as Anne Arundel County’s Pro Bono Referral Service:  http://www.mvlslaw.org/lawyers/volunteer/ 

Volunteers are still needed for the monthly Foreclosure Clinic in the Law Library but there are also many cases that need an attorney for full representation.

Please note that volunteers are supported with:

  • Malpractice insurance
  • Mentors
  • Free training
  • Use of MVLS offices to meet with clients
  • Reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses 

PBRC – Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland:  http://probonomd.org/volunteer-opportunities/

As stated on their website, PBRC “is the statewide coordinator of volunteer legal services. Our mission is to promote equal access to justice in Maryland by coordinating and supporting volunteer civil legal services, providing resources and support for legal advocates for the poor, and promoting cooperation within the legal community.”

Attorneys can sign-up to receive the E-Bulletin for a listing of cases.

PBRC has a number of projects as well for which attorneys can volunteer, including:

  • Tax Sale Clinics
  • Debtors Assistance Project
  • Forecosure Solutions Workshops

YWCA Legal Services :  intimate partner peace and protective order petition cases

Volunteering with the YWCA does not require a large time commitment but it does make a big difference to domestic violence victims to have the support of an attorney in court.

To register:

Send an email to apotthast@ywcaaac.org

Subject: pro bono peace and protective order representation

Body of the email should include your interest/experience etc., as well as your business number, or the phone number where you wish to be contacted. 

Lawyer in the Library Programs : Circuit Court and Anne Arundel County Public Library (Eastport and Glen Burnie)

The Ask A Lawyer In The Library program is a civil, brief, limited legal advice program sponsored by The Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. The weekly program is held every Wednesday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., in the law library in the courthouse.  This program has been quite successful, especially since local firms and attorneys have committed to always covering a certain Wednesday each month. The first Wednesday is covered by Jack Paltell and Mike Ragland; the second by Chris Boucher who comes for the even months and Mike Valadez who comes for the odd numbered months; the third is covered by the firm of Hillman, Brown & Darrow; the fourth by Gormley, Jarashow & Bowman; and the fifth Wednesdays are covered by Richard Ronay.

The program has expanded to other locations in local public libraries on a monthly basis in the evening from 4:40 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. On the 3rd Wednesday of the month it is held  at the Glen Burnie Regional Library and on the last (not the 4th) Tuesday of the month at the Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library.  These programs would benefit from the same consistent time commitment as the  weekly program. Three attorneys are needed for the public library events.  To volunteer contact Joan Bellistri in the law library @ ctbell00@aacounty or 410-222-1387.

Anne Arundel County Annual Homeless Resource Day is usually held in the spring.  Attorneys are able to assist the homeless and those in danger of becoming homeless with a variety of legal issues including expungement and child support.  More information will be available as we get closer to the date. 

Pro Bono Hours Reporting

And please remember to report your pro bono hours here: https://goo.gl/jF6aWM

The Anne Arundel Local Pro Bono Committee will be able to keep track of your hours for easy reporting by providing you with a report at the end of the year and you will be able to see how you compare with other attorneys.

 

 

 

 

 

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