Each year, an Awards Committee is convened to consider the many nominations put forth in hopes of being awarded one of the Maryland Pro Bono Service Awards. These statewide awards, presented by the Pro Bono Resource Center (PBRC), represent some of the very best examples of pro bono service from individuals and the judiciary as well as pro bono programs, corporate/governmental legal departments and non-legal entities serving the legal field.
The Committee had a challenging job in selecting from among numerous, highly-qualified candidates. PBRC would like to thank everyone who took the time to nominate individuals and programs from their community.
Here are the Award Recipients for 2007:
- Hilary Baldwin Ruley, Esq., is the recipient of the 2007 Young Lawyers Section’s Alex Fee Memorial Award. She has provided services to the underprivileged since she began her legal career in 2002. To date, she has been appointed three times to assist indigent clients before the United State District Court for the District of Maryland in addition to taking an additional two pro bono cases on her own and volunteering for the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service Tax Clinic. It is estimated that she had donated over $114,000 in legal services.
- The Honorable Karen A. Murphy Jensen has been a leader in the state in the development and delivery of legal services to the poor and to meeting previously unmet needs of the under-represented. Judge Jensen’s dedication to pro bono legal services began long before she was appointed to the bench, as she took on numerous pro bono cases for individuals and families that were referred to her. As a judge she has worked tirelessly through her leadership on boards and on the Standing Committee on Pro Bono of the Court of Appeals to help bring legal representation to those individuals and families who need it most. Judge Jensen’s dedication to pro bono services is a perfect example of how well services can work when the judiciary plays a leading role.
- The Maryland Office of the Public Defender recognized that, in spite of the immense caseload of their dedicated attorneys, the increasing magnitude of the needs of the disadvantaged citizens of the State warranted efforts to facilitate pro bono service. In 2006, the Office of the Public Defender created and adopted its first pro bono policy and initiated trainings to better implement the policy, ensure compliance and encourage participation in providing pro bono services.
- Kathleen T. Bailey, Esq., has represented close to 90 clients since she began volunteering with the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service in 2002. Of those cases, 27 clients were assisted in 2006 alone, either on a pro bono or reduced-fee basis. Bailey demonstrates through action her belief that every person deserves legal representation, even those with limited income and difficult family law cases and has demonstrated this through her 1,700+ hours of service to the citizens of Washington County. Even though her practice specializes in environmental and tax law, she turned the focus of her pro bono efforts to domestic law when she realized the substantial need for help in this area.
- Carl J. Clayton, Esq., is a solo practitioner with a general law practice located in Bel Air, Maryland. In the over 15 years Clayton has been associated with the Harford County Bar Foundation Pro Bono Program, he has consistently been the “go to” person when the underprivileged citizens of Harford County needed help. Year in and year out, Clayton is there when help is hard to find – usually to the tune of about two cases a week – and the hours are still accruing.
- Douglas R.M. Nazarian, Esq., is the Baltimore office liaison to Hogan & Hartson’s Community Services Department. In this role, he “coordinates the office’s pro bono efforts – developing relationships with potential clients, non-profit and legal services organizations, matching people within the firm to projects, and directly supervising many projects [him]self.” In addition to all the supervisory work, Nazarian finds the time to donate between 250 and 550 hours a year on pro bono cases fighting discrimination or enhancing community development projects.
- The Legal Aid Ministry of Baltimore is a recipient of the 2007 Herbert S. Garten Special Projects Award. This group of Christian attorneys was originally organized by Jim McFaul, a solo practitioner in Towson. The group, which consists of over 12 attorneys, has been volunteering at a shelter in East Baltimore, The Helping Up Mission, since 2003. Their efforts have greatly enhanced the residents’ abilities to overcome their pasts and move on with their lives. Since that time, this group has generously donated in excess of 300 hours of pro bono service to the legal needs of the homeless.
- The Mid-Shore Pro Bono Project provides pro bono services in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties in family law, domestic violence, housing and landlord/tenant matters, wills and related documents, and elder law. Now considered a model for other regions, this pro bono program is the first regional pro bono referral agency in the state. It is also unique because it joined together the resources and talents of many individuals from five rural Maryland counties to provide necessary and often critical legal services to low-income people in the area.
- Andrew R. Strait, Esq., currently serves as a Senior Analyst for The Unites States Secret Service, Strategic Planning and Evaluation Branch. Although Strait maintains his employment with the federal government, he manages his time to remain an active volunteer in the community and has consistently volunteered and provided free legal advice on a biweekly basis to clients in Community Legal Services’ Family Law Clinic. Over the last two years, Strait’s pro bono activity has resulted in over 100 cases, an average of about 96 hours per month, in all about 2,000 hours of free legal assistance to those who need it most.
- Miles & Stockbridge PC - Domestic Violence Pro Bono Group is the second recipient of the 2007 Herbert S. Garten Special Projects Award. The Group represents women and children who are victims of severe domestic violence referred to the law firm from the Sinai Hospital Women’s and Children’s Clinic. Since December 2005, the group has represented 33 victims of domestic violence and obtained a 100 percent success rate, either through a contested hearing/trial or through a negotiated settlement with the respondent.
- Joshua R. Treem, Esq., is a founding partner of Schulman, Treem, Kaminkow, Gilden & Ravenell and is the recipient of the 2007 Lee A. Caplan Service Award. For the past 20 years, Treem has been repeatedly willing to provide pro bono representation of the highest caliber to the ACLU’s clients facing criminal charges. Despite an incredibly busy practice, he is always unstinting with his time and advice or in his willingness to take on a new case.
- E. Duane Smith is a court reporter for CRC-Salomon and has furthered the cause of pro bono work by volunteering his expertise. Smith contributed his time to transcribing and preparing the deposition transcripts of a pro bono case undertaken by an associate at Whiteford, Taylor & Preston L.L.P.
These are just some of the names of the people who provide pro bono legal services to those who need it most in Maryland. There are others who could use your help, too. Add your name to the list of those that serve.
Support the legal service agencies in your community. Add your resources to the fight. For more information on volunteer opportunities in Maryland, contact Jon Moseley at the Pro Bono Resource Center office at (410) 837-9379 or (800) 396-1274, or e-mail email@example.com.
Jon Moseley is Director of Volunteer Services & Community Outreach for the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland.