WHAT WE DO
The Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland addresses the inequality of access to the legal system by connecting volunteer lawyers to economically disadvantaged individuals, non-profit legal services providers, and communities for free legal counsel and representation. We recruit, train, mentor and refer hundreds of volunteers to programs offering meaningful opportunities to prevent abuse, reunite families, avoid tax sale and home foreclosure, defend against consumer fraud, escape violence, obtain necessary disability and veterans’ benefits, and keep kids in school. Through our project incubation efforts, we also provide direct, service-based learning opportunities to positively impact at-risk individuals and neighborhoods, ultimately affecting close to 1,200 Marylanders annually through community education, brief legal advice clinics, direct case representation, and information and referral services. PBRC facilitates systemic change by cultivating a strong pro bono culture and recommending and implementing statewide policies on pro bono practice.
OVER 80% OF ALL PEOPLE WHO NEED CIVIL LEGAL HELP IN MARYLAND CANNOT AFFORD IT.
PBRC WORKS TO CLOSE THAT JUSTICE GAP.
PBRC coordinates live and online training programs for volunteer lawyers in a variety of substantive law areas in exchange for a pro bono commitment.
PBRC facilitates the incubation of new and innovative pro bono projects targeting the most acute legal needs of the community and engages volunteer lawyers in those efforts.
PBRC convenes conferences to strategize ways to enhance the pro bono delivery system, monitors Maryland rules and pro bono policies, and advocates for equal access to the justice system.
PBRC provides resources, support, and technical assistance to public interest legal advocates and promotes collaboration within the Maryland legal services community.
PBRC recognizes outstanding volunteer lawyers, firms and others for their dedication to the delivery of pro bono civil legal services to Maryland’s disadvantaged.
WHO WE ARE
PBRC is the only statewide non-profit clearinghouse for legal professionals dedicated to offering free civil legal help to the most vulnerable and disenfranchised members of our community. Our goal is to ensure that all Marylanders have equal access to the legal system regardless of their socio-economic condition. As the designated pro bono arm of the Maryland State Bar Association, we play a unique role as the support, training and advocacy center for pro bono activities. We build capacity within the bar and legal services community by providing technical assistance and support and promoting policies and practices which inspire a strong pro bono culture. We actively respond to acute legal needs by incubating innovative pro bono service projects and coordinating education and service-based learning opportunities that target specific problems or populations, impacting thousands statewide. Our ultimate mission is to open the doors of justice for all.
The justice gap in the state is an unfortunate fact. More than 80%* of people and communities in poverty cannot afford a lawyer and as a result, lose their homes, children, jobs, health benefits and access to quality education. The Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, Inc. (PBRC) was founded on January 16, 1990 as an independent non-profit to help close that justice gap by encouraging volunteer lawyers to offer free legal services involving basic human needs to disadvantaged individuals, families and communities.
The Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) established PBRC after recognizing that disparity and securing an agreement with the Court of Appeals of Maryland to launch a volunteer lawyer recruitment campaign in lieu of mandating pro bono work. The MSBA delegated the responsibility of implementing its pro bono plan to PBRC as its “pro bono arm.” The highly successful campaign resulted in thousands of potential volunteers being integrated into the community to offer essential legal help to those most in need. As the central pro bono coordinator and clearinghouse in the state, we have been the “go-to” organization for pro bono civil legal services ever since.
Our focus is on expanding the reach of free legal help in the state by recruiting, training, mentoring, and supporting volunteer lawyers who in turn work within their local communities and providers to represent the most vulnerable populations in our state such as the disabled, abused, homeless or working poor. We are also quite proud of our ability to “incubate” or create new project models that serve a particular emerging need in the community. These projects, which include clinics, hotlines, direct representation and mediation, offer lawyers short-term but meaningful ways to learn new areas of legal practice, gain practical, hands-on experience, and assist at-risk clients including seniors, veterans, defrauded consumers, and those at risk of losing their homes. PBRC has the unique role of facilitating partnerships and collaborating with entities to increase and enhance free or low-cost legal services, bridging the gaps in the current legal services delivery system.
Given its stature and history, PBRC further helps develop pro bono policy through its work with the courts and legislature. All of these initiatives necessitate strong collaboration. PBRC has also been instrumental in focusing on regions in the state where the resources are extremely scarce so that leveraging volunteers makes an even greater difference. The impact is tangible and vital to the economic and social stability of the clients and communities we serve. Thousands of lives have been improved because of these efforts.
In brief, PBRC has evolved from a recruitment arm of the state bar to a comprehensive pro bono clearinghouse of volunteer lawyers and resources, support center and innovator. The core focus of PBRC has not changed, however, as we strive to open the doors of justice to all. In brief, we change lives, build communities and preserve the integrity of our justice system.
*A 1988 legal needs study conducted by the Maryland Legal Services Corporation’s (MLSC) Advisory Council entitled “Action Plan for Maryland’s Poor” found that an appalling 80% of Maryland’s poor could not gain access to a lawyer in critical civil cases affecting basic human needs.
Caitlin Goldblatt, Project Coordinator
Jaci Jones joined PBRC in 2015 and serves as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator. Jaci coordinates all marketing efforts at PBRC for our events, trainings, and other activities. She also handles creating all graphic design, social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter), CMS & SEO efforts, advertisements/articles for the press, and branding for PBRC. She is also the site administrator for Maryland Free Legal Answers and the staff liaison for the Annual Pro Bono Service Awards.
Shelly Jackson, Home Preservation Project Staff Attorney
Shelly joined PBRC in 2017 and serves as a staff attorney for the Home Preservation Project. Shelly is responsible for community education, support to Baltimore City’s Project Household, and assisting with recruitment, training, and mentoring of volunteer attorneys who participate at estate planning clinics, foreclosure prevention clinics, and tax sale prevention clinics. Shelly also supports the Courts of Appeals Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services and the State’s local pro bono committees in promoting and delivering pro bono legal services.
Asistente de Proyecto del Proyecto Pro Bono para Menores No-Acompañados
Spencer Larkin joined PBRC in 2017 and serves as the Project Paralegal for the Unaccompanied Children Pro Bono Project. Spencer is responsible for the Project’s community outreach efforts, client registration, and client communications after Project clinics. He serves as the first point of contact for Spanish-speakers interested in volunteering as an interpreter. He also provides administrative support to the Project Manager.
Spencer Larkin se unió al PBRC en 2017 y sirve como el Asistente de Proyecto para el Proyecto Pro Bono para Menores No-Acompañados (UACP por sus siglas en inglés). Spencer es responsable de los esfuerzos de comunicación con la comunidad, el registro de clientes y la comunicación de seguimiento con clientes después de las clínicas. Spencer sirve como el primer punto de contacto para hispanohablantes interesados en hacer trabajo voluntario como intérprete. Él también provee apoyo administrativo a la Directora de Proyecto.
Kiah Pierre joined PBRC in 2009 and serves as the Training & Records Manager. Kiah coordinates pro bono trainings for lawyers, refers trained lawyers to legal service providers, and tracks the status of their pro bono activity. She also manages volunteer records, contributes to PBRC’s grant reporting requirements, and is the staff liaison to the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference Planning Committee.
- Joseph J. “Joe” Dyer, Esq., President – Seyfarth Shaw, LLP
- James R. Benjamin, Esq., Vice President – Pessin Katz Law, P.A.
- Maria Ellena Chavez-Ruark, Esq., Treasurer – Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, LLP
- Ryan P. Nolan, Esq., Secretary – T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.
- Victor L. Velazquez, CAE, Executive Vice President – Maryland State Bar Association
- Gerard R. Vetter, Esq., Immediate Past President – Office of the United States Trustee
Board of Directors
- G. David Dean, Esq. – Cole, Schotz, Meisel, Forman & Leonard, PA
- Sima G. Fried, Esq. – Thomas & Libowitz, PA
- Pamela S. Foresman, Esq. – Disability Rights Maryland
- Michael J. Goecke, Esq. – Lerch Early & Brewer, Chtd.
- David Scott “DS” Gray, Esq. – Venable, LLP
- Kristin P. Herber, Esq. – Under Armour
- Allen E. Honick, Esq. – Whiteford, Taylor & Preston
- Catherine “Cate” Hopkin, Esq. – Tydings & Rosenberg, LLP
- Michael R. Hudak, Esq. – YLS Chair – Office of the State’s Attorney, Baltimore City
- Wilhelm H. Joseph, Jr., Esq. – Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, Inc.
- Frederick L. Kobb, Esq. – Wright, Constable & Skeen, LLP
- Melissa L. Mackiewicz, Esq. – DLA Piper LLP, US
- Melanie Murray Mfume, Esq. – Law Office of Melanie Murray Mfume, LLC
- Nicolas Orechwa, Esq. – Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings
- David Pantzer, Esq. – DLS Chair – Simms Showers, LLP
- Emily C. Rogers, Esq. – PBCC Chair – University of Baltimore School of Law, Career Development
- Michael P. Sawicki, Esq. – Prometric, Inc.
- Tracy L. Steedman, Esq. – Adelberg, Rudow, Dorf & Hendler, LLC
- Hon. Keith R. Truffer – Maryland State Bar President-Elect – Circuit Court for Baltimore County
- Brian T. Tucker, Esq. – Gallagher Evelius & Jones, LLP
Our funders and donors make the work of the Pro Bono Resource Center possible. We could not engage volunteers and impact lives without their generous support and continued dedication to justice for all.
Saiontz & Kirk, P. A.
Miles and Stockbridge
Bill and Sue Jones
Barron and Brown LLC
Minnesota Lawyers Mutual
Zuckerman Spaeder LLP