MD Attorneys Go Extra Mile in Pro Bono Service
the creation of Maryland Rule 16-903 (enacted July 1, 2002), which officially
required all Maryland attorneys to report their pro bono activities annually,
one region has consistently produced the highest percentage of lawyers who
render pro bono service. Since 2002, the agrestic counties of Garrett, Allegany
and Washington have annually averaged approximately 70 percent of their lawyers
providing pro bono services; comparatively, the major metropolitan areas located
in the Capital and Central counties fluctuated around 50 percent during the
same time period.
Those results were cited in the 2005 Current Status of Pro Bono Service
Among Maryland Lawyers Report, released on November 8, 2006.
As reported in the January 2007 edition of the Bar Bulletin, the
assessment concluded that pro bono service as a whole in the state of Maryland
has steadily risen over the last few years. The report continued to enumerate
evidence of the Western region's excellent pro bono service record. For instance,
Washington and Allegany are the top two counties in the state, with 70.2
and 69.5 percent of their respective lawyers contributing any pro bono hours.
Washington has also posted the greatest percentage increase of lawyers with
any pro bono hours over the last three years. Additionally, the gaggle of
western counties placed no lower than 15th on the list of percentage of lawyers
contributing 50 pro bono hours or more (most notably, Garrett placed seventh
with 36.4 percent); conversely, five of the last six place slots were filled
by Capital and Central counties.
Though there are considerably fewer attorneys practicing in the Western region
than the Capital or Central, the fact remains that these rural attorneys deliver
more in the pro bono arena than those that draw most of the legal-related headlines – a
condition seemingly rooted in camaraderie.
Terri Ann Lowery
One major pro bono attorney in the Western region is Terri Ann Lowery, a bankruptcy
attorney for Trozzo, Lowery, Weston & Rock, LLC. Based in the town of Cumberland
(Allegany's County-Seat), Lowery's pro bono service has gained a great deal of
recognition. In 2002, the MSBA awarded Lowery with the Lee A. Caplan Award due
to her extensive pro bono service over many years. Her pro bono work was again
recognized in October 2005, when the Allegany County Bar Association (ACBA) awarded
her with the Suzanne McGrath-Dale Award. Lowery was nominated anonymously for
"I have never taken a pro bono case so that someone would say, ‘Oh,
that's great that you did that,'"
explains Lowery. "But it is nice to be recognized that I do [pro bono work]
because maybe it'll encourage other attorneys to say, ‘I can do that.'"
Born and raised in Western Maryland, Lowery was working for the U.S. Trustees
Office in Greenbelt, Maryland, in 1995, when she decided to move back to Cumberland
to raise her family. Lowery appreciated the quaint, small-town aspects such
as making your own hours, the companionship between colleagues and the familiarity
between clients and attorneys.
"You really become so involved with these people and their lives," remarks
Lowery. "They start asking you for all kinds of advice. It's so different than
with the government, when you really never see your client, whereas now, people
come in off the streets or I see them at the mall and they have lots of questions.
They look at me as their friend, and you become really involved with them."
G. Douglas Reinhard
Upon re-acclimating herself in Cumberland, Lowery worked with the Allegany
Law Foundation, a group that provides pro bono service to low-income clients
through in-house attorneys or locates an attorney to do pro bono work. Created
by the ACBA in the mid-1990s, the Foundation has had a strong impact on impoverished
residents of Western Maryland. Advertised through brochures, word-of-mouth
and general court bureaucracy, the Foundation has been contacted to handle
various issues including landlord/tenant disputes, custody cases and family
law cases. In such an eclectic area, it is imperative that various attorneys
step up to the plate when called upon.
"There are very few attorneys who do bankruptcy around here," notes Lowery, "so
when [Allegany Law Foundation] would get [any bankruptcy] cases, I said, ‘Just
send them to me.'"
The Foundation's President, G. Douglas Reinhard, was also born and raised in
Allegany County. He admires the benevolence displayed by his hometown's legal
community towards the people in need and one another.
"We have a Bar where everyone gets along well, and you are not out there
to cut people off," notes Reinhard.
Cumberland attorney Paul J. Kelly, Jr., echoes Reinhard's sentiments by acknowledging
that his colleagues give each other some flexibility and allowances, because
everyone is professional and collegial with each other.
But these allowances are not explicit to other attorneys. Kelly – another
attorney who practices in his childhood surroundings – has a firm grasp
on his area's affairs and has displayed a motivation, much like his colleagues',
to aid the needy throughout Western Maryland.
"Because of the average income out here, you find a lot of people have legitimate
needs, but [they are] without the funds," explains Kelly. "That's how a lot
of practitioners do it out here – there is a legitimate need, and we
don't mind helping. In this small town, if I do pro bono work for someone,
there is a good chance I will see them again and again. I think that's a good