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PBRC 2010 Pro Bono Award

Page history last edited by Joan Bellistri 14 years ago

Article written for the AABA Barrister, June 16, 2010


The AABA’s Award Winning Pro Bono Program / Joan Bellistri, Law Library Director, Anne Arundel County Public Law Library


I received the 2010 Maryland Pro Bono Resource Center Herbert S. Garten Special Project Award for the “Ask a Lawyer in the Library Program” at the MSBA  business meeting on Saturday, June 12.  Our project was nominated by the Anne Arundel Bar Association.  The award was presented by Sharon Goldsmith, Herb Garten and Chief Judge Bell.  It was fitting that I was able to sit with Jonathan Kagan who as AABA Bar President gave us the bar support needed to initiate this program, Hon. Danielle Mosley who was the Pro Bono Committee Co-chair when the program started and John Gardner, the new AABA President, who was one of the program’s first volunteers.  I also enjoyed the company of Marla Zide and Karen Cook. 


Since the first “Ask a Lawyer in the Library” program 34 attorneys have volunteered 144 hours to serve the needs of 295.  The “Ask a Lawyer” program now operates every Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  A different firm has agreed to cover one Wednesday each month.  Jack Paltell and Michael Ragland of Bell, Ragland, Gauges & Paltell come on the first; Dave Simison on the second;  Jeff Barmach of Council, Baradel, Kosmerl & Nolan has taken care of the third with Maria Worthington McKenna and Susan Wyckoff; and Baldwin, Kagan & Gormley attorneys Joe Gormley, Kemp Hammand and Jeff Bowman have covered the fourth Wednesday.  There are four fifth Wednesdays and so far Chris Boucher and Mary Kay Carnarte have agreed to volunteer for two of them.


Once the program in the Circuit Court law library was established the program was able to expand into Anne Arundel County Public Library branches.  Elizabeth Leight, AABA Pro Bono Committee Co-chair has organized two programs in January and April at the Russett Branch in Maryland City.  Attorneys Brian Markovitz, Kiri Paltel, Jessica Quincosa and Patricia Chiriboga-Roby were the volunteers.  Cliff O’Connor recruited Bill Trevillian, Jr. and Ed Groh to provide a program at the Brooklyn Park branch in May.  Cliff is investigating trying the North County branch next.


In addition to the library programs AABA attorneys have participated in the annual Anne Arundel County Homeless Resource Day providing the “Ask a Lawyer” service to the county’s homeless and near homeless population.


It has been a pleasure to be a part of the AABA Pro Bono Committee and work with Dan Andrews and his co-chairs Hon. Danielle Mosley and Elizabeth Leight.  Working with the volunteer attorneys has made getting this program going easy.


I would like to take the opportunity to thank the bar for their willingness to work with the law library to make this program possible.  There can be no “Ask a Lawyer in the Library” program without the lawyer.  Everyone who was asked to volunteer agreed to give it a try.  As a result we are able to provide a service that is truly appreciated by those who have made use of it.  Comments from participants have ranged from “he rocks” (in reference to Mike Ragland) to “what a great service.”


I am honored to have been nominated by the Anne Arundel Bar Association for this award and proud to have received it on its behalf.  My experience working with the AABA has been wonderful and I look forward to continuing this pro bono collaboration for years to come.



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