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The September/October Issue  

In this month’s issue of the A2J Dispatch, we request attorneys who have the flexibility to set their rates to take the anonymous Affordable Law Task Force survey re: Legal Services to Modest Means Marylanders.The survey will collect information on the status of affordable law in Maryland and help find solutions for the 30% of Marylanders who need legal help, but do not qualify for free legal services and cannot afford market rate. We also begin early in recognizing the National Celebration of Pro Bono, which takes Oct. 23 – 29, by sharing some pro bono stories and announcing our plans to launch a social media campaign to encourage MSBA members to #answerthecall to the Pro Bono Call to Action

A2J Commission News

A2JC and MSBA have partnered on the Affordable Law Task Force to create an anonymous. If you can set your own fees, or work with an organization that lets you, please take this Affordable Law survey. 30% of Marylanders can’t pay market rate but need legal help. This survey will help us find solutions to serving clients of modest means. Take Survey 

A2JC Executive Director, Reena Shah, will be a panelist on The Daily Record’s Legal Trends webinar on October 19, 2022 at 10am. Other panelists include Natasha Dartigue, Maryland Public Defender and Doyle Niemann, Chief of Operations, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office. The webinar will explore the variety of measures designed to reform the criminal and civil justice systems, including new bail policies, juvenile justice reforms, access to counsel and measures to strengthen police accountability and the impact of those measures. Register Here: https://thedailyrecord.com/webinars/legal-trends-are-justice-reforms-in-maryland-working/

A2JC ED, Reena Shah, is serving as chair of the legislatively mandated Access to Counsel in Evictions (ACE) Task Force, which is tasked with monitoring implementation of the new ACE law. The Task Force is holding meetings with relevant stakeholders to deliver a report to the Governor and legislature by January 1, 2023. Thus far, the Task Force has heard from civil legal aid organizations who have been awarded grants to implement the law, including the United Way, which is helping to build a coordinated intake system for the program; from the Maryland Legal Services Corporation; and Equal Justice Works. We expect to also hear from the Maryland Judiciary and the Department of Housing and Community Development. To learn more: https://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/Pages/A2C/index.aspx

The lack of readily available civil justicedata is a barrier to access to justice. A2JC is continuing to promote its newest data tool, the Housing Data Dashboard, which for the first time makes eviction data readily available and visualizes it for maximum impact. Most recently, Reena Shah presented the Dashboard to the Community Development Network’s (CDN) Covid-19 Housing Preservation Coalition meeting. A2JC worked with CDN to successfully pass a law that requires more robust reporting and analysis of eviction data.

To take part in the national Celebration of Pro Bono, A2JC will be launching a social media campaign, in coordination with civil legal aid providers and the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) to highlight pro bono triumphs and encourage MSBA members to answer the Pro Bono Call to Action. Here’s a great video on why YOU should #answerthecall: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZlA85zP1EM

A2J Stories

This month’s A2J Story segment comes from Disability Rights Maryland, Maryland’s designated Protection and Advocacy Agency. Each year thousands of individuals with disabilities contact DRM seeking legal assistance. Through their Pro Bono Program and partnership with the private bar, volunteer attorneys bring much needed legal advocacy services to children, low-income individuals, and veterans with disabilities across the state. 

  • Devon

    Devon’s parents spent countless hours trying to negotiate with their son’s school district for support and services so Devon, who has multiple disabilities and complex learning issues, would be able to succeed in school. Devon’s parents were on the verge of giving up when they were put in contact with a pro bono attorney who took the matter and began negotiations with the school district. Unable to resolve the case through negotiation the attorney suggested that Devon’s parents request a due process hearing before an administrative hearing officer, and they agreed. As a result, the case resulted in a successful settlement whereby the school district finally agreed to a non-public placement with the support and services Devon needed to be successful.

  • Carl

    For many years Carl struggled to make any progress in school, at just 11 years old Carl was having trouble in all of his classes and his behavioral issues were not addressed. Hoping to help their son, Carl’s parents advocated for a more appropriate placement with the school district but their efforts were unsuccessful. Specifically, Carl’s parents had requested that Carl be placed somewhere where the school could provide the support and services to meet Carl’s needs. Carl’s parents new such a placement would help Carl make progress in school. After enlisting the help of an attorney, Carl’s parents, through mediation, successfully negotiated an agreement with the school district to allow Carl to attend a non-public placement where the school could provide the support and services to meet Carl’s needs. 

Disability Rights Maryland (DRM) is federally mandated to advance the civil rights of people with disabilities and it does so by, among other things, providing free legal services to Marylanders of any age with all types of disabilities (developmental, intellectual, psychiatric, physical, sensory, learning, traumatic brain injury), who live in facilities, in the community or who are homeless.

Local A2J News

  • Last month, advocates sued to stop the government from continuing to block work authorization for asylum seekers waiting for their cases to be adjudicated. In the case, CASA de Maryland v. Mayorkas, advocates point out that these rules, implemented during the Trump Administration, make it difficult for asylum seekers to afford basic necessities or hire legal counsel to aid them in pursuing asylum.







National A2J News