Volume 28, Number 3 - Spring 2013

The Advocate

Young Lawyers Section - Maryland State Bar Association

from the chair | Articles | Notices | Riding the circuit | Reports | About


At the beginning of the bar year our section had a program called the Pro Bono Connection. The purpose of the program was to connect law students and attorneys with pro bono opportunities to enhance their professional development. While the program was a great success with over 130 participants, I would like to broaden the program’s impact by providing some of the information in this letter to a wider audience.

The Young Lawyers Section sponsors several different education programs each year and inevitably at the conclusion of the program someone approaches me to ask about additional free training opportunities. While I always to encourage them to attend each of the section’s programs, I also encourage them to go to the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland’s website. PBRC is the pro bono arm of the MSBA and has a number of free or substantially reduced training opportunities for lawyers. Lawyers are able to receive training in substantive practice areas if they commit to representing pro bono clients for a specific number of hours. Specifically, there are training in the areas of collaborative law, consumer bankruptcy, consumer protection, criminal records expungement, family law, foreclosure prevention, immigration, LGBT law, nonprofit law, special education/Medicaid and veterans’ benefits. These trainings are an invaluable resource for any attorney, but it is particularly valuable for young lawyers who have recently hung out their own shingle. Additionally, the MSBA and PBRC offer free and discounted slots for a selection of MSBA CLE courses. Volunteer attorneys are eligible for one of three (3) freeslots in exchange for accepting a pro bono case referral from a recognized pro bono legal services program.

When young lawyers learn that they can gain legal experience by providing direct representation to pro bono clients, some young lawyers express concern that their inexperience in a substantive practice area may hinder them from adequately representing the pro bono client. PBRC has a solution…mentorship! There are opportunities for the attorneys to gain confidence and competency through mentorship. The volunteer mentors are usually practitioners who have substantive experience in the particular practice area and can offer insight and advice.

In addition to mentorship and trainings, PBRC offers a number of tools that will help young lawyers succeed such as litigation funds, investigative services and even paralegal services. I would encourage any young lawyer that is looking for a way to advance his or her career as well as give back to community to contact PBRC to learn more about the benefits of pro bono work.


Chair, Young Lawyers Section


The Truth About Balance

By Kimberly H. Neal

Recently, I was asked to speak at a women’s symposium on the topic of balance. Although flattered by the invitation, I had to wonder what on Earth I could competently contribute to the panel. For example, on the day of the request, I had been back at work from maternity leave for all of about 3 weeks (which felt like 3 seconds) and was desperately trying to (1) prepare for a deposition, (2) remind my husband that I had a board meeting that night (which meant he was on “baby duty”), (3) hop on a conference call with the Young Lawyers’ Section Executive Committee, and (4) figure out when I was going to be able to clean my house as we had visitors arriving the following weekend. And that’s just what I can recall upon brief review of my calendar.

Admit it: you’ve been there.

Like most “Type A” attorneys, I have difficulty saying “no” and I quickly found myself accepting the speaking opportunity. I also found myself wondering when I would find time to prepare for the symposium and oh, by the way, miss about three-fourths of a day of work the week before a big motion was due. Sigh…

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Fourth Circuit Reverses Judgment Against Employer Based Upon At–Will Employment Disclaimer

By Anne E. Di Salvo

Last November, the Fourth Circuit reversed a $555,000 jury verdict in favor of an employee who alleged that her former employer’s decision to fire her breached certain policy statements the employer had issued in the employment contract. In Scott v. Merck & Co., Inc., No. 11-1584, 2012 WL 5911203 (4th Cir. Nov. 27, 2012), the court ruled that under Maryland law, a terminated employee seeking to enforce a policy statement in a breach of contract suit “must show both that the policy statement limited the employer’s discretion to terminate the employment at will and that the employee justifiably relied on the statement.” Id. at *3. The court further found that the presence of a clearly expressed disclaimer precludes an employee from proving justifiable reliance in a breach of contract action “regardless of how readily the employee could satisfy the other part of the analysis.” Id. This means that under this court’s interpretation of Maryland law, a clear and conspicuous at-will employment disclaimer may bar terminated employees from succeeding in breach of contract actions.

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The Forum Selection Clause: Arbitration and Enforcement of Arbitration Awards in Different Venues

By Ira C. Wolpert

The United States Supreme Court long ago held that personal rights can be waived, Ins. Corp. of Ireland v. Campagnie des Baixotes de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694 (1982), with the subsequent result that personal jurisdiction can be, and often is, the subject of negotiation. In particular, parties often bargain over clauses about where a dispute will be resolved. Such forum selection clauses can be either mandatory or permissive. A mandatory clause must clearly demonstrate the parties’ intent to make a particular jurisdiction exclusive. Clauses that state the parties “consent” or “submit” to a certain jurisdiction or that a court “shall have jurisdiction” are considered permissive because they are not necessarily exclusive to other forums.

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Honoring Mel

Melody Tagliaferri Cronin, a talented young lawyer with great promise, bravely battled leukemia for nearly 2 years. She was always optimistic, always smiling, and never gave up. During her short legal career, she demonstrated a dedication to pro bono work, and was awarded both the Maryland State Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section Distinguished Service Award, and the Maryland State Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Alex Fee Award for her work with the Wills for Heroes foundation. On February 24, 2013, Mel passed away. To honor her memory, and her dedication to community service, Maryland attorneys are joining together in an effort to add donors to the national bone marrow registry in order to give leukemia patients a chance at life.

Join us May 9, 2013 from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm at one of four locations around Maryland. For additional information please contact 410-727-6600.

More Information

We need you to be a Hero! Join the Bone Marrow Registry!

Joining the Bone Marrow Registry is Easy! Bone marrow donors SAVE LIVES!

There is a huge need for donors. Six out of ten patients do not have a match so they will not receive the life saving transplant they need. You have the power to heal!

Matches are very difficult to find because patients need donors who are a genetic match. Over 6,000 patients search the registry every day looking for a match.

Imagine it was your son, daughter, spouse, parent, neighbor or friend who had Leukemia and needed a donor. Wouldn’t you want to give them a chance at life? Wouldn’t you want others to help save your special someone?

There is no greater feeling than knowing you saved the life of another. You are the cure!

To find out about drives in your area visit www.ThereGoesMyHero.org or www.getswabbed.org to register on-line.

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CLA LogoChesapeake Legal Alliance seeks volunteers

Chesapeake Legal Alliance, a nonprofit organization in Annapolis, MD, uses the law to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and is looking for volunteer attorneys for pro bono environmental projects. Please call 410-216-9441 or email info@ChesapeakeLegal.org for more information.


3rd Circuit

Baltimore County
Robert K. Erdman, Jr., Circuit Representative

There’s a lot going on in Baltimore County in May, including committee planning meetings for the upcoming bar year. Please stop by or sign up for an event as appropriate or, if you have any questions, please contact Rob Erdman.

May 1: ANNUAL LAW DAY BREAKFAST with Keynote Speaker Mark F. Scurti, Esq. – 7:30AM at Martin’s Valley Mansion.

May 8: Real Property Committee – Dinner program “Hit Parade – A Review of Important Legislative & Case Law Updates” presented by David H. Fishman, Esq. and S. G. Samuel Moxley, Esq. – 5:00PM at Country Club of Maryland.

May 14: Pro Bono Committee – CLE on “Nuts and Bolts of Family Law” presented by Judges and Masters from the Circuit Court for Baltimore County – 8:30AM at the Baltimore County Circuit Court.

May 29: Family Law Committee – Evening Session #5: Presentation on “Criminal and Family Law” presented by Dana O. Williams, Esq. and Hon. Alexandra N. Williams, Administrative Judge for the District Court of Baltimore County.

May 31: Criminal Law Committee – Brown Bag Lunch on “Immigration Issues in Criminal Cases” presented by Prof. Maureen Sweeney (University of Maryland School of Law) – 12:00PM in the Grand Jury Room.

May 31: BCBA Night at the Yard – Miller Lite Flite Deck at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

June 3: Annual Golf Tournament, Hunt Valley Golf Club.

6th Circuit

Frederick and Montgomery Counties
Gretchen Slater and Sean O’Keefe, Circuit Representatives

The Bar Assoc. of Frederick Co. Young Lawyers Section’s (BAFC YLS) big event this winter/spring has been fundraising efforts to support Camp Jamie, a camp run by Hospice of Frederick County to benefit local youth who have experienced the death of a loved one. The BAFC YLS is raising funds and awareness through a silent auction, a happy hour, a drawing, and sponsorships in running the Frederick Half Marathon. While some members will be running for the cause, other members will be volunteering at the Camp to assist with an afternoon of fishing.

In January, several BAFC YLS members participated in Pro Bono Day with the Legal Aid Bureau, to provide free consultations in various legal areas such as family law, landlord/tenant, and expungements. In February, a Red Mass was held at St. John’s Catholic Church in Frederick, where Archbishop of Baltimore William Lori honored and blessed legal professionals in the community.

BAFC YLS meetings are held at noon on the third Wednesday of each month at 50 Carroll Creek Way, Suite 340, Frederick, MD. Please direct any questions to Sean O’Keefe.

The Montgomery County Bar Association on Friday, April 26, 2013 will host the 119th Annual Meeting & Law Day Celebration at the Bethesda North Marriott Conference Center from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. The Keynote Speaker is the Honorable Robert M. Bell, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland. The New Practitioner Section is teaming up with the Personal Injury Section at Law Day to present “A View from the Bench and the Bar: Perspective on the Essentials of District Court Trial Practice from Both Sides of the Bench.” The Honorable James B. Sarsfield, the Honorable Audrey A. Creighton, Meg Rosan and Andre Forte will speak at the presentation.

On May 19, 2013 the New Practitioners section will be helping with the Spring Special Olympic Games from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm at the Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland. Volunteers are needed for the following positions and should contact Rhian McGrath or Heather Collier if interested:

    • 5 volunteers for Set-up and Registration: 8:30 am to 11:00 am
    • 3 volunteers for the Award Tents: 10:30 am to 2:00 pm
    • 3 volunteers for Tennis: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
    • 2 volunteers for Bocce: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
    • 12 volunteers for Track and Field: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm

Meetings for the New Practitioner’s section are held on the 3rd Tuesday of the month from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm in the CLE classroom of the Bar Association Building.

If there are any questions regarding the above events and/or other happenings in Montgomery County, please contact Gretchen Slater or visit the Bar Association of Montgomery County’s website.


Annual Meeting Report

Co-Chairs: Christine Britton and Kemp Hammond

Judge Joseph J. Murphy, Ret., will be the speaker at the Young Lawyers’ Section CLE program at the MSBA Annual Meeting in Ocean City. The program will be an evidence refresher for attorneys and will take place Thursday morning, June 13. For more information, see the program at-a-glance.

Education Committee

Co-Chairs: Dolores Dorsainvil and Taren Stanton

On Wednesday, April 24, 2013, the Education Committee of the Maryland State Bar Association's Young Lawyers Section’s presented a panel discussion/legal seminar titled, “Becoming a Rainmaker: Business Development for Young Lawyers” at the Baltimore Hilton Garden Inn in the Inner Harbor.

The experienced panelists included: Lisa Hall Johnson, Director of Litigation of Washington Light & Gas, Rachel St. Peter, Senior Housel Counsel of Under Armour, Toyja Kelley, Partner of the Litigation Division of Tydings & Rosenberg LLP, and Tim Perry, Partner of the Government Relations Section of Gordon Feinblatt LLC. Abby Bradfield, Business Development Manager of Miles & Stockbridge served as the moderation.

The law firm partners and in-house counsel gave insight about developing business, effective marketing, meeting client expectations, and maintaining client relationships. The event was very well attended and well received by the audience and was videotaped by Merrill LAD and co-sponsored by the Alliance of Black Women Attorneys of Maryland.

Stay tuned for more information on our upcoming continuing legal education seminars.

Extreme Makeover/Christmas in April Committee

Co-Chairs: Lisa Hall Johnson, Esq. and Michael Siri, Esq.

On April 13th, Young Lawyers volunteered to paint, assemble furniture, and deliver donations to the Department of Social Services in Landover, Maryland. We worked on rooms used primarily to work with families dealing with child abuse and neglect. We had a good number of volunteers, many of whom had not volunteered with the MSBA in the past. Many thanks to the MSBA Public Awareness Committee and the Prince George’s County Bar Association, both of whom joined as sponsors to support this event.




Family Friendly Committee

Co-Chairs: Lisa Hall Johnson, Esq. and Meighan Griffin Burton, Esq.

On April 6th the Family Friendly Committee hosted Bounce Networking, at the Pump it Up in Lanham, Maryland. This was a fun opportunity for Young Lawyers to network with one another and talk about opportunities to get more involved with YLS, while our children were able to play and have fun with each other. We even got some Young Lawyers out there bouncing with the kids. A very special thanks to Liz Morris and Greg Kirby for supporting the event (Greg even joined us without his kids)!







Wills for Heroes Committee

Chair: Sarah Cline

As many of you already know, Wills for Heroes provides Wills, Financial Powers of Attorney and Medical Powers of Attorney/Advance Directives to first responders and their spouses/partners. The foundation was started in response to the tragic events of 9/11. Of the 403 first responders who died that day, most did not have a will in place. First responders risk their lives each day to make our communities safer. This program provides free wills and other estate planning documents to our local heroes in about one hour using a program supplied free-of-charge by LexisNexis.

On March 09, 2013, the Young Lawyers Section, in partnership with the Howard County Bar Association, held its third annual Wills For Heroes event at the Robey Public Service Training Center in Marriottsville. Thirteen volunteer attorneys helped produce Wills, Financial Powers of Attorney and Medical Powers of Attorney/Advance Directives for a total of 67 Howard County Police, Fire and EMS employees. To date, the YLS Wills for Heroes program has assisted 226 of Howard County’s first responders. Special thanks go out to: Chad Spencer of the Howard County Bar Association for coordinating with the Department of Fire and Rescue Services; attorney Larry Blosser for his expertise in Trusts and Estates law; Chuck Fuller, for pulling double duty as attorney and notary; Jessica Shcherbatyuk, a 2L at the University of Maryland, who assisted with logistics throughout the day; and Panera Bread for its in-kind donation for the event.

You do not need to practice Trusts and Estates law to volunteer for the Wills for Heroes program. A mini-course is given the morning of each event to familiarize volunteer attorneys with the software used and applicable Maryland law. We also have an attorney on hand who is well-versed in estate planning to answer any questions that may arise. You MUST have your own malpractice insurance in order to draft the estate documents; this will not be provided for you. For more information about the Wills for Heroes program, or to volunteer for a future event, please e-mail WFH program Chair Sarah D. Cline. The Wills for Heroes program will hold another event in Marriottsville on Saturday, November 02, 2013.

The Maryland State Bar Association, Inc.
520 West Fayette Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Phone: 410.685.7878 Fax: 410.685.1016 www.msba.org