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lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

Legal Help during Coronavirus/COVID-19

The Access to Justice Commission has added a number of legal information one-pagers to their COVID-19 Resource Page:

The Self Litigation Litigation Network (SRLN) has been hosting problem solving calls for who provide service to the unrepresented or the SRL. One concern is the availability of certain forms such as power of attorney, health care directives and standby guardianship for children. In Maryland these forms can be found online:

  • Forms and information about power of attorney and health directives can be found here.
  • Standby guardianship forms can be found at mdcourts.gov here and the People’s Law Library article is here.

Maryland Legal Service providers are continuing to provide services and intake remotely:

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lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

Maryland Access to Justice Commission COVID-19 RESOURCE PAGE

The Maryland Access to Justice Commission is coordinating information among Maryland Legal Service providers and the courts. Their resource page states:

As a Marylander who may be facing a civil legal issue during this unprecedented time, you may have many questions about the status of your case because the courts have closed to the public or you may be confused about your rights.  The Maryland Access to Justice Commission, in partnership with the Maryland State Bar Association, has put together this COVID-19 Resource Page, pulling resources from a multitude of sources to make it easier for you to navigate the civil justice system during this time of emergency.  On this A2JC Resource Page, you will not only find links to different orders, but an explanation of what that could mean to you in non-legal language that you can understand. As the federal and state governments continue to take action on the behalf of U.S. and Maryland residents, we will continue to add helpful resources that will help you understand your rights under new COVID-related laws and post timely updates on court procedures impacted by COVID. 

The Maryland Bar Association has posted the answers to questions asked of the Judiciary here.

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lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

Ask a Lawyer in the Library: Wrap-up for April

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Susan Mays, Dana Paul, Katelyn Maloney, Carole Brown, Brian Lyman, Cliff O’Connor, Frank Lozupone, Mike Ragland, and Jack Paltell were the Lawyers in the Library for April. The program was held each Wednesday in the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library and at the Glen Burnie Regional Library on the third Wednesday and at the Eastport Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday.

These volunteer attorneys provided 14 hours of free legal advice to 25 people on issues such as wills, contracts, landlord/tenant, foreclosure and employment.

The Ask a Lawyer In the Library program is a civil, non-family law, self-help program sponsored by The Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. Every Wednesday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., you can talk with a volunteer attorney for at least 20 minutes. No appointment is necessary, but sign-up is required in the library. Sign-up begins 15 minutes before the program start time. Time slots are determined by a lottery. In addition to the weekly program, the Ask A Lawyer In The Library program is held monthly at two Anne Arundel County Public Library branches: Glen Burnie Regional Library on the 3rd Wednesday and Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday. For more information, please see http://circuitcourt.org/legal-help/lawyer-in-the-library.

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lawlibrary Pro Bono

Ask A Lawyer Wrap-Up 2018

 

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Attorneys provided assistance with issues such as landlord/tenant, wills, power of attorney, judgments, reals estate and contracts.

The Ask a Lawyer In the Library program is a civil, non-family law, self-help program sponsored by The Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. Every Wednesday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., you can talk with a volunteer attorney for up to 20 minutes. No appointment is necessary, but sign-up is required at the law library’s information desk. Sign-up begins at 10:45 a.m., and time slots are determined by a lottery. In addition to the weekly program, the Ask A Lawyer In The Library program is held monthly at two Anne Arundel County Public Library branches: Glen Burnie Regional Library on the 3rd Wednesday and Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday. For more information, please see http://circuitcourt.org/legal-help/lawyer-in-the-library.

 

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lawlibrary Pro Bono

Recognizing Anne Arundel County Pro Bono Volunteers!

The Law Library hosted the 7th Annual Pro Bono Recognition Lunch on Thursday, March 8, 2018. This event recognizes and celebrates the attorneys who provide pro bono legal service in Anne Arundel County. Joan Bellistri, Law Librarian and Liaison, Court of Appeals’ Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, and the Hon. Ronald Silkworth, Circuit Court Judicial member of the Anne Arundel Local Pro Bono Committee, provided opening introductions. Judge Silkworth emphasized the importance of pro bono and or reporting the hours each year.  Joan Bellistri mentioned that the Local Pro Bono Committee has an “APP” or Pro Bono Hours Tracker to help attorneys keep track of their pro bono work.  Administrative Judge, Hon. Laura Kiessling, thanked the volunteers for their service and introduced special guest, Judge Clayton Greene, Jr. of the Maryland Court of Appeals. Judge Greene’s remarks were thought provoking as he addressed the need for legal representation for those who cannot afford it and  thanked those pro bono attorneys in attendance for their service.

Those being honored included Court Facilitators and attorney volunteers from the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, the Law Library’s Ask a Lawyer in the Library program and Foreclosure Clinic and the annual Anne Arundel County Homeless Resource Day.

Check out our Program 2018  to see the full list of volunteer attorneys and facilitators.

We had a great turnout for the event, and we would like to thank the following judges and magistrates from the Court of Appeals, Court of Special Appeals and the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County for joining us.

J. Greene

  • Hon. Clayton Greene, Jr.                          
  • Hon. Timothy E. Meredith                           
  • Hon. Laura S. Kiessling
  • Hon. Alison L. Asti
  • Hon. Mark Crooks
  • Hon. Glenn L. Klavans
  • Hon. Stacy W. McCormack
  • Hon. William C Mulford, II
  • Hon. Ronald A. Silkworth
  • Hon. Michael Wachs
  • Hon. Cathleen M. Vitale
  • Hon. Sandra F. Howell
  • Hon. Charles J. Muskin
  • Hon. Timothy P. Thurtle

Attendees were honored, too,  having AABA President, Steve Wrobel and AABA Executive Director, Fran Czjaka representing the bar association. Also, we would like to thank Nancy Faulkner from Court Administration; and Kim Klein, Liz Stephens and Sarah Adams from Case Management for attending the Recognition Lunch. It was great to see Bonnie Sullivan, Susan Francis and Amy Hennen from Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. MVLS’ support of Anne Arundel County programs is much appreciated as well as the great photos that Bonnie took of the event.. Special recognition and thanks must also be given to the Maryland Judiciary’s Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office, the Anne Arundel Bar Association and the James C. Cawood Inns of Court for funding the lunch provided by Main and Market.

Last, but not least, thank you to the Anne Arundel Local Pro Bono Committee for its leadership in providing pro bono service to Anne Arundel County!  Chair, Tasnima Apol, Joan Bellistri, Anita Bailey, Nancy Faulkner, Kim Klein, Lisa Sarro,and Hon. Ronald Silkworth, all members of the committee, were present at the event.

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lawlibrary Pro Bono

National Pro Bono Celebration has begun

pro bono banner

Maryland and Anne Arundel County have expanded the week-long celebration to the whole month of October.  On Wednesday, October 4, 2017, the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service held its Annual Awards Ceremony.  So nice to be in the room with so many who donate their time to help those in need of legal assistance.  The words of Chief Judge Barbera were inspiring as she highlighted the good that pro bono work provides to those in danger of losing their home or seeing their children.  Tom Mulinazzi whose firm, the Mulinazzi Law Office, was awarded the Law Firm of the Year for pro bono, put it nicely by saying that pro bono work is “an opportunity to be a hero.”

The next night, Thursday, October 5, the Anne Arundel Bar Association President’s Pro Bono Award was presented at the joint dinner of the James C. Cawood, Jr. Inns of Court and the AABA.  Steve Wrobel, AABA President, presented the award with Tasnima Apol, Chair of the Anne Arundel County Pro Bono Committee to Carole Brown, an attorney in a solo practice.  Carole’s nomination read as follows.

Since 2014, Carole has generously donated her time to take pro bono cases to represent numerous victims of domestic violence for the YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. Carole greets every client with a smile and is kind, compassionate, and caring. Clients feel at ease and are comfortable with Carole’s easy manner. Whenever asked to help, Carole enthusiastically accepts difficult cases in which parties take extreme positions and emotions run high. Carole sets the example in Anne Arundel County of a zealous advocate who is committed to her clients’ best interests.

In addition, Carole has been a flexible volunteer for all of the Lawyer in the Library programs whether in the courthouse, Eastport or Glen Burnie.  Congratulations and thank you to Carole!

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lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

Ask a Lawyer In the Library – Wednesday (and Tuesday) Wrap-Up

On Tuesday evening, September 26, three attorneys were available in the Eastport Annapolis-Neck Community Library for the Lawyer in the Library Program to provide free Legal Advice. Carole Brown, John Lynch of McNamee Hosea, and Jerry Williams of Patel and Williams were the Lawyers in the Library. And on Wednesday Paul Farmer of Gormley Jarashow Bowman was the Lawyer in the Law Library.

 

Six people people took part in the program and were able to speak with the attorneys to request assistance with issues such as foreclosure, buying a house, understanding a settlement agreement, and appeal of an arbitration.

Do you know that legal help is available from the Maryland Courts Self Help Center from 8:30 am until 8:00 pm during the week, Monday through Friday? This is a virtual service via phone (410-260-1392) or online chat.

The Ask A Lawyer In The Library program is a civil, non-family law, self-help program sponsored by The Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. Every Wednesday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., you can talk with a volunteer attorney for up to 20 minutes. No appointment is necessary, but sign-up is required at the law library’s information desk. Sign-up begins at 10:45 a.m., and time slots are determined by a lottery.  On the 3rd Wednesday of the month the MVLS Brief Limited Advice Foreclosure Clinic is hosted by the library.  Participants are encouraged to register for the clinic by calling 410-547-6537, but pre-registration is not required. The Ask a Lawyer program is also held monthly in the evening at two Anne Arundel County Public Library locations – at the Glen Burnie Regional Library on the 3rd Wednesday of the month and at the  Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday of the month. For more information, please see http://circuitcourt.org/legal-help/lawyer-in-the-library.

 

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lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

Ask a Lawyer In the Library – Wednesday Wrap-Up

On Wednesday, September 19, 2017, the law library offered three different brief legal advice programs.

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Crighton Chase

Crighton Chase of Hillman, Brown and Darrow was the “lawyer in the law library” in the morning at the courthouse.  He was able to help three people with issues such as debt collection, custody (referred by the FLSHC), and discrimination.  One of  the clients was a Japanese speaker and we were able to use the Language Line as mentioned in a  previous post on language services. At the same time, we had the MVLS Foreclosure Brief Advice Clinic via videoconferencing via Google Hangouts.  A client facing a tax sale foreclosure was assisted by Ellyn Riedl, an MVLS staff attorney, who was in her office in Baltimore.

mvls-logoWhile the two programs were going on we got a request from the FLSHC for the ASL laptop so they could better assist a client who was hard of hearing.  I was able to use the service, too, when the client was referred to the library for help in locating examples of separation agreements.

In the evening the program traveled to the Glen Burnie Regional Library. Josh Tabor of the Law Office of Marla Zide with Cliff O’Connor and Katelyn Maloney of Holmes and O’Connor were the volunteer attorneys.  Issues for which help was provided included real estate, estate administration, power of attorney, and guardianship. Towards the end of the program a young woman stuck her head in the door.  She just wanted to say “thank you” for the help she had received before.  A nice way to end a long day of self-help services.

The Ask A Lawyer In The Library program is a civil, non-family law, self-help program sponsored by The Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. Every Wednesday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., you can talk with a volunteer attorney for up to 20 minutes. No appointment is necessary, but sign-up is required at the law library’s information desk. Sign-up begins at 10:45 a.m., and time slots are determined by a lottery.  On the 3rd Wednesday of the month the MVLS Brief Limited Advice Foreclosure Clinic is hosted by the library.  Participants are encouraged to register for the clinic by calling 410-547-6537, but pre-registration is not required. The Ask a Lawyer program is also held monthly in the evening at two Anne Arundel County Public Library locations – at the Glen Burnie Regional Library on the 3rd Wednesday of the month and at the  Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday of the month. For more information, please see http://circuitcourt.org/legal-help/lawyer-in-the-library.

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lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

Ask A Lawyer In The Library: Wednesday Wrap-Up

Valadez
Mike Valadez

Last Wednesday, Mike Valadez was back as the “Lawyer in the Library.” Mike was able to help five people with issues such as judicial review, arbitration and wills.

The next program date is Wednesday, September 20, 2017 – at both the circuit court and Glen Burnie locations.  More information here

Also on September 20, from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, the law library is hosting a monthly foreclosure clinic through the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS).  Registration is not required but suggested.  (Contact the law library for more information @ 410-222-1387 or lawlibrary@aacounty.org) Check out the law library’s foreclosure wiki page for more information.  Take note of the links to the video’s of the Maryland Access to Justice Department on the Foreclosure Process and Foreclosure Mediation.

The Ask A Lawyer In The Library program is a civil, non-family law, self-help program sponsored by The Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. Every Wednesday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., you can talk with a volunteer attorney for up to 20 minutes. No appointment is necessary, but sign-up is required at the law library’s information desk. Sign-up begins at 10:45 a.m., and time slots are determined by a lottery.  On the 3rd Wednesday of the month the MVLS Brief Limited Advice Foreclosure Clinic is hosted by the library.  Participants are encouraged to register for the clinic by calling 410-547-6537, but pre-registration is not required. The Ask a Lawyer program is also held monthly in the evening at two Anne Arundel County Public Library locations – at the Glen Burnie Regional Library on the 3rd Wednesday of the month and at the  Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday of the month. For more information, please see http://circuitcourt.org/legal-help/lawyer-in-the-library.

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lawlibrary Legal Technology Libraries Self Represented

Changing Roles of Law Librarians

MVLS_facebook

What a nice surprise to see Bonnie Sullivan’s post about law libraries on Facebook.  Her comment  on this article is proof that Bonnie Sullivan, executive director of the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) is a champion of libraries and recognizes their value to the legal community.

The article referred to, Law Librarian? Try Chief Knowledge Officer: Our annual survey shows that in an era of digital change, the job of law librarian is evolving rapidly written by Mary Ellen Egan for the The American Lawyer on June 30, 2017  

While this article focuses more on the changing roles of firm law librarians, I can certainly say the role of court librarians is changing as well.  Who we serve, how we work, and what we do has changed dramatically. Court law libraries are the foundation in providing access to justice through access to legal information.

In the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library, I have seen the number of non-attorneys using the library increase to the point that close to 80% of questions we get are from non-attorneys or self-represented litigants (SRLs).  We still assist attorneys and the court but how we do that has changed as well.  Attorneys are more likely to need assistance with technology.  Librarians help with formulating a search on Westlaw or Lexis; show how to email an attachment; or to use a copy machine.  The use of technology is an important tool for meeting the needs of the non-attorney, too.  There is so much information on the Internet – not all is trustworthy or reliable.  Librarians are able to direct users to the sites that will provide the right information.  We often find that someone has found “the law” online that turns out to have nothing to do with Maryland. Librarians can now curate information online for use by special user groups.  See the AACPLL FAQs as an example and the Maryland People’s Law Library.  Technology has allowed the library to expand self-help programs.  Our foreclosure program offered through MVLS suffered from a lack of volunteers and/or clients.  Now, using a webcam, Google Hangouts and scanned documents; we always have MVLS staff on hand, remotely, to assist those in need of help with the foreclosure clinic.  

Librarians have always helped with legal research but now find that they often must perform a triage to find out what library customers really need.  This means knowing what programs and services are available outside of the library.  Librarians need to be able to match the what is needed with the best resource to meet the needs of each user whether print or online.

Partnerships with our Maryland legal service providers like MVLS, Legal Aid, HPRP and the Pro Bono Resource Center are essential in bringing services to those in need, in addition to legal information.  Partnering with the public library allows us to reach more people by taking advantage of the multiple locations and longer hours.

Librarians often hear “why a library when it is all online.”  The fact that so much information is online in so many ways is precisely why librarians are needed more than ever. Maryland court law libraries are always finding new ways and services to meet the needs of all in need of legal information and referrals, now and in the future.