Letter to Our Professional Community
The Maryland Judiciary, Maryland Attorney General, Maryland State Bar Association and Maryland Access to Justice Commission are joining forces to deliver an urgent pro bono call to action. We strongly urge every attorney in Maryland to take at least one pro bono case or provide a designated number of pro bono service hours over the next year to help in the areas with the most acute need, namely housing, consumer, public benefits or family law.
As we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, too many Marylanders continue to face extraordinary challenges in virtually all aspects of their lives – challenges that often escalate to legal conflicts that only the civil justice system can resolve – like landlord-tenant or debtor- creditor issues and more.
Even before the pandemic, nearly 80% of Marylanders with civil legal problems could not get the help they needed and were forced to navigate the complex civil justice system on their own – with severe consequences. Now, the surge in civil cases as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be staggering.
At the height of the pandemic, the Maryland Attorney General partnered with the MSBA-backed Maryland Access to Justice Commission to create a COVID-19 Access to Justice Task Force to contend with the impact of COVID-19 on the civil justice system. After 6 months of work, in its final report, Confronting the COVID-19 Access to Justice Crisis, one of its key recommendations was to have a “coordinated call to action to increase pro bono services to respond to the spike in civil legal needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Marylanders fare much better when they navigate the civil justice system with the help of an attorney. As attorneys, your skills and talents can make the difference between a person losing their home, having food on the table or keeping their family safe.
We are sensitive to the fact that the pandemic is still ongoing and your personal risk assessment in relation to it may complicate your ability to take a case, but we urge you to step up and answer the call if you are able.
All pro bono providers in Maryland are taking part in the call to action and the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland (PBRC) is helping implement the call. PBRC will match you with the pro bono organizations across the state that are poised to help you get connected to remote or in-person opportunities; train in your area of interest; and receive the support you need to successfully help Marylanders with their civil legal cases at a time they need it the most. Sign up is easy: https://probonomd.org/call-to-action/.
Each of us can have a meaningful impact to abate the COVID-19 civil justice crisis. We thank you in advance for stepping up to answer this urgent call to action.
Pro Bono Call to Action