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Anne Arundel County 2004 Pro Bono Action Plan - discussion

Page history last edited by Joan Bellistri 10 years, 4 months ago





This still looks good to me.JMB

Looks good to me as well CP

The purpose of this Pro Bono Action Plan for Anne Arundel County, Maryland, is to promote pro bono legal services to meet the needs of persons of limited means in the county.  This plan assesses the county’s needs, describes the legal resources that currently exist to meet those needs, and sets forth an action plan for engaging lawyers throughout the county to address those unmet needs.  The Committee hopes that its plan will be enthusiastically accepted and supported by lawyers in the county and that, with their support, we will substantially increase access to the justice system for persons of limited means.



This can change - should the plan list the committee members? JMB could add a link to the list of members.

Perhaps list the committee members as well as the requirements for who should be on the committee CP

LMS:  Maybe add a review of past committee members and preferred makeup of the committee - private, gov't, legal services attorneys and other members of the advocacy community?

The Pro Bono Committee for Anne Arundel County, Maryland, hereinafter referred to as The Committee, was formed pursuant to Md. Rule 16-902.  Anne Arundel County Bar Association’s President, Kevin M. Schaeffer, nominated five (5) lawyers to serve on the Committee.  The Circuit Court Administrative Judge, Joseph P. Manck, and the District Court Administrative Judge, James W. Dryden, nominated eight (8) members.  Attached to this plan is a roster of Committee members.  The Committee’s first meeting was held on Thursday, May 15, 2003.



Contact PBRC for updated information or copies of survey questions JMB

Does this need to be repeated? Might there be other ways we can assess needs? JMB

Since it has been almost 10 yrs. might be a good idea.  Could use Survey Monkey for this.  Why did we survey outside AA County?  CP

LMS:  Definitely think this should be updated - bet there'd be a big shift in need toward economic concerns like consumer/foreclosure/debt collections needs. 

The results of two (2) surveys were used to assess the need for pro bono legal services in Anne Arundel County.  The first survey of legal services organizations was conducted by the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Service.  Surveys were distributed in early June of 2003 to 37 organizations statewide.  The Committee received the results of this survey in October of 2003.  18 organizations responded, submitting 145 surveys representing Baltimore City and the Counties throughout Maryland.  Surveys submitted for Anne Arundel County were represented by 11 organizations (see attached listing) with four (4) of these organizations’ responses including counties in addition to Anne Arundel. According to the  responses to this survey, the most important unmet legal needs in the county during 2002 were 1) contested family law/custody, divorce; 2) representation at IEP meetings, due process hearings, and mediation to ensure adequate services for students with disabilities; 3) non-English speakers small wage claims, workers comp, and health and safety enforcement for construction workers; 4) public benefits; 5) landlord/tenant/eviction defense and rent escrow actions;  6)employment-related issues, and 7) consumer finance/bankruptcy and other consumer issues.


The second survey was distributed by the Committee to twenty (20) non-legal Social/Human Services Agencies and tabulated by the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland.  Eleven (11) responses were received and analyzed (see attached listing of responding organizations). The results identified the following as top legal issues mentioned most often by clients: (1) Child Support; (2) Consumer Finance/Bankruptcy

Collection/Loans; (3) Public and Subsidized Housing; and (4) Child Custody/Visitation.  The top three legal problems or areas identified by these Social/Human Services Agencies as not currently being met were 1) Child Support, 2) Child Custody/Visitation, and 3) Public and Subsidized Housing.  




JMB:  The People's Law Library has an updated directory of pro bono and legal service providers in Anne Arundel County. (http://www.peoples-law.info/directory?keys=&county=66&category=All)


The following organizations reported that they provide legal services in Anne Arundel County:


link to current referrals and attach brochure of Pro Bono and Reduce Fee Civil Legal Services:  http://aacpll.pbworks.com/w/page/69410664/Pro%20Bono%20(Free)%20and%20Reduced%20Fee%20Civil%20Legal%20Services


update and add self help centers and clinics --

  • American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland: represents persons in matters of violation of civil rights, such as freedom of speech, religion, press and assembly, due process; discrimination
  • CASA of Maryland Baltimore Worker’s Rights Center: handles employment problems for immigrants
  • Catholic Charities Immigration/Legal Services: provides counseling and legal representation for low-income persons for immigration-related problems such as deportation, naturalization and employment problems and visas
  • Civil Justice, Inc.: addresses predatory lending in real estate transactions, homeownership counseling and consumer litigation.
  •  Hero: represents HIV+ individuals for advanced directives, durable power of attorney, standby guardianship, denial of public benefits, ADA violations.
  •  Legal Aid Bureau, Inc.: represents clients in CINA, family law, elder law, housing and consumer cases, special education and disciplinary proceedings, and public benefits matters.  Clients must be U.S. citizens or be lawful permanent residents, and meet low-income requirements in order to be eligible for services. (LMS)
  • Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations:  represents non-profit organizations.
  •  Maryland Coalition for Inclusive Education, Inc.:  assists with special education issues
  • Maryland Crime Victims Resource, Inc.:  assists Maryland crime victims with protection, compensation, victims and general advice and support through the criminal justice process.
  •  Maryland Disability Law Center:  represents children with disabilities; abuse and neglect of disabled adults; discrimination issues under ADA
  • Maryland Volunteer Lawyer Service: places family law, bankruptcy, tax matters, wills, deed changes, power of attorney, living wills, landlord/tenant cases, Medicaid denials, school suspensions, defense of tort cases, name changes, adult guardianship, consumer rights, criminal record expungement with pro bono attorneys
  •  Public Justice Center: represents individuals in cases involving systemic change in the areas of racial discrimination, eviction, rights of children, employment discrimination and prisoner’s rights.
  • Women’s Law Center of Maryland: Pro bono attorneys provide summary information and advice through the Family Law Hotline
  • YWCA Domestic Violence Legal Services, YWCA of Annapolis and AA Co.: represents victims of domestic violence in protective order proceedings and Circuit Court family law matters; administers Custody Pilot Project matching low-income clients with private attorneys.


YWCA Domestic Violence Legal Services administers the Custody Pilot Project funded by the Maryland Legal Services Corporation and places custody cases of low-income clients with private attorneys who agree to represent clients for a reduced fee of $50 per hour with a cap of $1000 until completion of the cases.   A YWCA DV Legal Services paralegal places the cases and monitors the cases until completion. This program placed 31 custody cases in 2001 and 28 cases in 2002.  It also utilizes pro bono attorneys to supplement their representation of domestic violence victims.


Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service provides pro bono services in Anne Arundel County and has a recruitment program for pro bono attorneys.  Paralegals place the cases and monitor their progress.  MVLS accepts referrals from all legal service groups, social and human service organization, government agencies and other lawyers. They placed 99 cases in 2002 2001 and 81 cases in 2002.     


Women’s Law Center of Maryland maintains the Family Law Hotline that serves Anne Arundel County residents.  Pro bono attorneys provide brief information and advice to residents requesting advice.  They responded to 417 calls in 2002 and 507 calls in 2001.


The Survey of Legal Services Providers provided by the Pro Bono Resource Center does not provide a comprehensive assessment of pro bono attorney activity in Anne Arundel County. Almost all of the organizations responding reported that they have pro bono attorney involvement in Anne Arundel County.  However, most of the legal services providers only gave statewide information.


Legal services organizations reported the following obstacles to addressing the needs of people of limited means in Anne Arundel County:

  • Limited resources of time and staff to train and support pro bono attorneys
  • Clients often need immediate help
  • Attorneys not willing to take time-consuming cases with long term commitments
  • Attorneys do not have knowledge of special areas of law effecting low-income clients
  • Staff model of attorneys is more effective and efficient for clients




The Committee’s three-year Goals include the following: 1) to substantially increase the number of lawyers in the county participating in pro bono services that meet the most critical needs as identified through the needs assessment process of the Committee; 2) to establish an on-going program that publicly acknowledges and promotes the efforts of Pro Bono legal service providers; 3) to establish an on-going working relationship between the Committee, the Anne Arundel Bar Association, and the institutional providers of legal services to county residents with limited means; and 4) to increase the availability of written information on pro-bono services available to those needing these services. increase access to information on pro bono services available to those needing services.


Based on the needs identified by both Legal Providers and the Social/Human Services Agencies, the Committee selected the following priorities for pro bono legal services to be addressed over the next three years: 1) family law cases including divorce, custody and protective orders; 2) consumer finance/bankruptcy and other consumer issues; 3) representation of students with disabilities; 4) public and subsidized housing; 

5) the representation of non-English speakers; and 6) child support modifications.


JMB: (1) Family law and domestic violence needs are being addressed by the court's Family Law Self Help Center and the YWCA Domestic Violence Office.  Attorneys for actual pro bono representation are still needed.

(2)  There is consumer information on the PLL. The Glen Burnie Self Help Center and the Lawyer in the Library program are sources of limited legal advice.

(3) (4) and (5) still a need - don't know of any local resources.  This is the kind of case that could be paced by MVLS or the PBRC.

(6) would be included in #1.


LMS comment to Joanie's comment above: Re 4) Legal Aid does the bulk of representation of tenants in public and subsidized housing cases, but we definitely can't meet the need; it's hard to find private pro bono attornys to take these cases b/c of the perception (not totally accurate) that the law is too specialized, and because the cases move very quickly (an accurate assessment).  Re 5) Legal Aid represents non-English speakers with assistance of the Language Line and foreign language speakers employed statewide throughout Legal Aid.  Re 6) I concur - lack of resources for support mods.





The Committee, in collaboration with the Anne Arundel Bar Association and the various providers of staffed and pro bono legal services will establish an Evaluation sub-committee to develop a monitoring and evaluation plan.  The Committee will seek funds to engage a Pro Bono Program Coordinator to facilitate the implementation of the Plan and to collect monitoring and evaluation data..  The Committee will establish a plan for structuring and administering the position of Pro Bono Program Coordinator through one of the various providers of staffed and pro bono legal services.  After the first year of implementation is completed, the Committee will endeavor to conduct several focus groups, to receive feed-back from the low-income community.


LMS:  Status?  Don't think this ever happened.  We need another plan.




Because of the lack of a unified pro bono program in Anne Arundel County, the Committee will need to develop a program from scratch.  Therefore, the following strategies will be implemented by the Committee during the first year following submission of this Plan. 


A.  Seek and obtain necessary authority and funding to engage a Coordinator of Pro Bono Services through an existing provider such as the Legal Aid Bureau.  The Committee proposes that it serve the purpose of monitoring and providing direction to the Coordinator.


JMB: with funding a problem MVLS and PBRC can act as the Coordinator and provide services to AABA pro bono attorneys or can we get funding for something like this?


B.  Meet with the leadership of the Anne Arundel Bar Association to gather ideas and design a method of soliciting the Association’s members to provide Pro Bono services to County residents with limited means.


JMB: Pro Bono column in the Barrister to highlight pro bono work of AABA attorneys, eg. Pro Bono Star and to highlight opportunities for pro bono service.  Would it be possible to send periodic emails to the AABA list highlighting and requesting volunteers for specific cases? 


FC: Fran Czjaka would be able to send emails to the AABA listserv.


C.  Establish an open, continuous and effective working relationship through a Memorandum of Understanding between the Committee and the institutional providers of legal services to the county’s residents with limited means, which include The Legal Aid Bureau, Office of the Public Defender, The Maryland Legal Services Corporation, the YWCA Domestic Violence Legal Services, and Maryland Volunteer Lawyer Services.


JMB:  wonder if this was done - involvement in the local pro bono committee would help and develop the relationship between the bar and providers


LMS:  not aware of it, if so


D.  Develop and begin to implement a recruitment program to attract members of the local bar to accept cases on a continuing basis in an area of law that suits the particular attorney’s training and experience.  Connect these lawyers with institutional providers identified above.


JMB: can the lawyers referral do this?  could just refer to MVLS or PBRC who already have a list of providers and/or clients in need of AA county representation. 


     E. In collaboration with the Anne Arundel Bar Association, develop and begin to

implement a training regimen for newer attorneys accepting Pro Bono cases that will provide these attorneys with the opportunity to gain experience from association and guidance from more experienced attorneys in specific areas of the practice of law.


JMB: MVLS and PBRC already have available training programs for those who accept pro bono cases


Are there programs offered by the AABA that would waive the cost for taking a pro bono case?


      FC:  Training programs could be advertised via the AABA listserv.


     F. Conduct annual recognition events to publicly acknowledge and promote the

efforts of Pro Bono legal service providers.


JMB: AABA/AACPLL Pro Bono week volunteer luncheon in October 2010.  Can we do more?


G.  Develop a plan to contact each lawyer not involved in pro bono work to solicit contributions to legal services organizations.   


JMB:  by making use of AABA email list?  I am not sure there is a way to identify who is not involved in pro bono work.  It is my understanding that the reporting to the Court of Appeals is confidential. 


LMS:  For solicitations of contributions to legal services programs, maybe make a push during pro bono week; also, advertise easy ways to make contributions - maybe link from AABA website to sites where donations can be made, i.e., AA County Legal Aid is now on Anne Arundel Cares (www.AACares.org), where donations can be made easily.


H.  Utilize existing materials and develop and distribute to the public written information on how to obtain Pro Bono or reduced cost legal services to supplement existing resources such as the Peoples Law Library and use public institutions, libraries, and social/human services organizations as distribution points.


JMB:  PBRC  publishes a brochure for AA County.  Online information on court's and AABA website or link to PLL directory.





The Committee will meet at least every two months to monitor and evaluate the plan activities and make any changes or additions necessary to attain the goals of this plan.  This assessment will allow the Committee to identify any new projects, partnerships or initiatives needing to be undertaken to address unmet legal needs.


JMB:  Neighboring counties' committees meet regularly - monthly or every 5 to 6 weeks.




                                                                  RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED


                                                                  Anne Arundel County

    Local Pro Bono Committee


By                                                                                Kevin M. Schaeffer, Co-Chair



                                                                                    Mina Naddaf, Co-Chair


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