Most people remember their first pro bono case very clearly.
For attorney Jesse Hammock, it was a case in which he represented a single mother who was fired after one week on the job when her new employer discovered she was pregnant with her second child. After weeks of negotiating with the employer and with the aid of several senior partners in his firm’s Labor & Employment Department, Hammock was able to obtain a substantial settlement based on an Equal Employment Opportunity claim. That case proved to be the beginning of a sustained commitment to pro bono service.
Since that pro bono success, Hammock has accepted more than a dozen pro bono cases from Mid-Shore Pro Bono in a range of areas and has volunteered countless hours in Mid-Shore’s weekly pro bono clinic. His daily practice at the firm of Parker, Counts & Melton, LLP, in Easton, Maryland, focuses on commercial and business litigation, land use matters, and estate litigation. His pro bono matters allow him to reach outside of his normal practice areas to assist low income residents navigate guardianship petitions, property line disputes, landlord tenant matters, and commercial litigation for low income debtors.
As he explains, “I began practicing law in Baltimore in 2001. I annually accepted pro bonocases to meet the fifty hours of suggested pro bono service each year. I quickly realized, however, that performing pro bonowork allowed me to participate, with appropriate supervision, in a wider range of practice areas and in parts of the representation process that I was only permitted to observe in the past.”
In 2008, Hammock joined the Board of Directors of Mid-Shore Pro Bono, Inc., the pro bono referral organization for Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot Counties and served as Treasurer and then Vice-President of the Board of Directors. Hammock is currently serving his first term as President of the Board.
“Jesse provides countless hours to support the Mid-Shore Pro Bono office. He is a vital part of this organization through the cases he accepts and his support of our clinic and the clients of the Mid-Shore,” says Sandy Brown, Executive Director of Mid-Shore Pro Bono.
Hammock has also became involved in the organization’s management and assisted in stretching a tight budget as far as possible.
“Mid-Shore Pro Bono is an indispensible public service to low-income residents of the mid-shore,” says Hammock. “Prior to the Mid-Shore’s creation five years ago, low income residents of the mid-shore had limited or no access to legal representation and were on their own for the most part. Now low-income residents can attend one of our weekly pro bono clinics and receive free limited legal advice and/or work with our dedicated staff to find ongoing representation.”
In his Board role, Hammock frequently advocates for support of pro bono legal work to the mid-shore legal community. Such advocacy is critical to sustaining the effort and vitality of the pro bono referral program and a broader culture of pro bono service. Hammock was selected as one of Maryland’s “Pro Bono Stars” and honored at the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland’s 20th Anniversary Benefit Gala.
For more information on volunteer legal service organizations in Maryland, contact Jennifer Larrabee at 410-837-9379 or 800-396-1274, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharon E. Goldsmith is the Executive Director at PBRC of Maryland.