Stephanie Pratt Anderson
Stephanie Pratt Anderson grew up in a military family (her father served for over 30 years) with two ambitions: to be a public servant and to find a way to give back to the community. Now, as the Deputy Director of the Office of Central Services in Prince George’s County and a pro bono attorney, Anderson is realizing both of her lifelong goals.
Providing service to the people surrounding her and helping to improve their lives comes naturally to Anderson. While she cannot pinpoint her first pro bono experience, she does recall looking for ways to help those around her by utilizing her professional skills, including assisting the elderly at her church with legal advice (typically for public benefits eligibility), generally explaining people’s legal rights to them, and empowering her friends and neighbors with legal knowledge.
Anderson’s first formal pro bono commitment was to the Board of Directors at the Family Crisis Center in Prince George’s County. Already a dedicated pro bono volunteer at the Center, Anderson continually offered informal legal advice to the Center’s administration. Anderson spent 10 years, beginning in 1995, helping the Crisis Center serve the community. She also kept busy counseling individuals who visited the Center and working in community legal education for youth in Prince George’s County.
For her volunteer work, Anderson follows a simple credence: follow your passion. So in 2008, Anderson was one of the first Maryland attorneys to train with the Foreclosure Prevention Pro Bono Project after seeing, and predicting, the impact of foreclosures on Prince George’s County residents. Since then, she has been active with that project by not only giving of her own time but also encouraging attorneys she works with to become involved.
Recently, as the Prince George’s County Attorney, Anderson adopted a formal Pro Bono Policy for government attorneys in her office. The 30+ staff attorneys in the County Attorney’s Office are now able to participate in pro bono work without concerns about conflicts of interest and are made aware of resources and opportunities for pro bono service.
Of her commitment to expand pro bono service by encouraging the attorneys in her office, Anderson states, “It is easy to promote something that you believe in and are actively participating in yourself. Creating a formal policy for the Office of Law announces our commitment to joining in with other pro bono partners and opens channels for meaningful collaboration.”
Although no longer with the Office of Law, Anderson reports that that initiative to connect attorneys with pro bono opportunities and support services continues to be very successful. There currently exists a Pro Bono Liaison position, and several Office of Law staffers have taken training to become part of the Special Education Project and to assist with tax problems.
Anderson graduated in 1988 from the University of Maryland School of Law. She is the recipient of The Certificate of Recognition from the Board of Education, Prince George’s County Public Schools; The County Attorney’s Award (Prince George’s County, Maryland); and a Pro Bono Star Award at the 20th Anniversary Gala of the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland (PBRC) in November 2010.
For more information on volunteer legal service opportunities in Maryland, contact Sharon E. Goldsmith at PBRC at (410) 837-9379 or (800) 396-1274, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andy Wheeler is the Volunteer Services Coordinator at PBRC of Maryland.