When someone mentions the word “hero”, what do you think of? Do you picture someone rushing into a burning house to rescue people trapped inside? How about workers tirelessly battling through wind and rain and rising flood waters to reach those in peril?
To be sure, the people performing these selfless tasks certainly quality for the title, but they are not the only ones. Peril exists for thousands of people here, in Maryland, who do not have the resources to extricate themselves from the legal quicksand that is threatening to drag them under. Someone in Baltimore County has lost their job and is in danger of foreclosure. Someone in Frederick County is desperately seeking help with a protective order in a domestic violence matter.
Be it in Baltimore City or St. Mary’s, Prince George’s or Charles, in every county across the state the need is there. It seems daunting. Even insurmountable. And yet there, at the heart of the maelstrom, you find them – attorneys. Attorneys who care enough to take on pro bono cases. To offer the assistance that only they can give. To help someone who can’t help themselves.
THERE, AT THE
heart of the maelstrom, you find them...attorneys who care enough to take on pro bono cases. To offer the assistance that only they can give. To help someone who can't help themselves.
If you know one of these types of attorneys, there is something you can do to help give them the “kudos” they deserve. You can offer them recognition among their peers. Recognizing these heroes is what the annual Maryland Pro Bono Service Awards are all about – taking a few moments each year to recognize the good works done by your sisters and brothers in the law.
The Pro Bono Service Awards recognize volunteers in a variety of categories. The Individual service awards recognize pro bono volunteers in solo practice, as well as those in small, medium or large law firms. The Judiciary award honors members of the bench who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to encourage, promote, and help to facilitate pro bono work. The Awards also reward law firms, pro bono programs, non-legal involvement and others.
In addition, each year three special awards are granted. The Lee A. Caplan Award is given to the solo or small firm practitioner who has provided exceptional continuous pro bono service over a period of years. The Alex Fee Memorial Award is sponsored by the Young Lawyers Section (YLS) of the Maryland State Bar Association, and is presented to a YLS member who exemplifies dedication to pro bono work. The recipient of the Herb S. Garten Special Projects Award is a program, firm (of any size), or an ad hoc group that initiated an extraordinary special project.
The nomination process is easy. Call or email the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland (PBRC) for an application, or download it in .pdf format directly from our website; just go to www.probonomd.org and click on the “Awards Application” link (just above the word “Celebrating”). The deadline for the application is April 5, 2010. Then simply e-mail, fax or mail the nomination form to Jon Moseley, Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, 520 W. Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21201; FAX (410) 385-2616; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The recipients will be announced and the awards presented on June 12, 2010, at the Maryland State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in Ocean City. The ceremony offers a simple yet effective way to publicly acknowledge pro bono work being done by colleagues from around the state.
Please help to promote the pro bono work being done in Maryland. Take a few moments to nominate someone you know who is doing work that deserves this award. It is a great way to say thank you.
Support pro bono work in your community. Add your resources to the fight. For more information on the legal service volunteer opportunities in Maryland, contact the PBRC 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.