S. Woods Bennett has spent most of his legal career defending insurance companies and employers in numerous Workers’ Compensation cases. This experience gave him unique insight into the impact that serious injury or death of a parent has on children and led him to become involved in Kids’ Chance, a charitable organization that provides scholarship assistance to the children of Maryland workers who have been fatally or catastrophically injured in the course of their employment.
The Maryland’s workers’ compensation community organized the charity to serve the unmet needs of children of injured workers who saw their dreams of an education shattered by the financial consequences of their parents’ workplace injuries. The founders of the organization invited Bennett to serve as an initial member of the board and as the first secretary. In those capacities, Bennett drafted the initial Bylaws of the corporation, assisted in the application to the IRS for the tax-exempt status of the 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation and drafted amendments to the Articles of Incorporation. He has also served as president of the organization and continues to serve as a director of the corporation.
In the course of consideration of scholarship applicants, Bennett is frequently called upon to render legal advice concerning issues of workers’ compensation law that impact the eligibility of applicants to receive Kids’ Chance grants.
As a result of his service with Kids’ Chance of Maryland, Bennett joined Kids’ Chance of America, the national umbrella organization launched in 2006. Serving as its first secretary, he was once again a participant in the creation of that new organization’s Bylaws. As president-elect, he helped draft an independent contractor agreement for the corporation’s first executive director and assisted in that hiring process. Currently, Bennett is president of the national organization. A principal issue Bennett is dealing with on the national level is the assignment of trademarks of state Kids’ Chance organizations to the national organization and the licensing of the Kids’ Chance name, tagline and logo to 27 existing state organizations and new Kids’ Chance chapters that agree to adhere to ethical standards and certain obligations promulgated by the national organization. He is involved with assisting new organizations in the creation of their initial corporate documents and IRS applications. These activities are in addition to fund-raising and outreach efforts, on both the state and national levels, with the ultimate hope of reaching all children who can benefit from the assistance of Kids’ Chance in pursuing their educational goals.
“As an attorney who concentrates his practice in the law of workers’ compensation, my work with Kids’ Chance of Maryland has been incredibly rewarding,” states Bennett. “The children of injured workers all too often get overlooked and do not have the resources to cope with the impact that devastating workplace injuries can have on their families. Kids’ Chance seeks to address these needs. My law practice has given me the unique opportunity to recognize these needs and to enlist support throughout the workers’ compensation community and beyond to help these children.”
A University of Maryland School of Law graduate, Bennett spent almost 20 years as an associate and then a partner of the law firm of Smith, Somerville and Case, LLC. He then moved on to help found Cornblatt, Bennett, Penhallegon & Roberson, PA, in 1998.
At the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland’s 20th Anniversary Gala in November 2010, S. Woods Bennett was honored for his outstanding pro bono legal service. It is in recognition of Bennett’s legal efforts which lead to brightening the future of so many American children which makes him a pro bono “star.”
For more information on volunteer legal service opportunities in Maryland, contact Sharon E. Goldsmith at the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland at (410) 837-9379 or (800) 396-1274, or firstname.lastname@example.org.