Applications to join the 2022-2023 Professional Skills Academy cohort are now closed. For the next application period, please check back in Summer 2023.
If you have any further questions or concerns, please contact Kiah Pierre
Professional Skills Academy
Shaping the next generation of pro bono leaders.
The Professional Skills Academy is a one-year, cohort-based program of training, mentoring, and service for newer lawyer (Fellows) that will:
- enhance the Fellows' lawyering skills;
- develop in the Fellows the habit of thoughtfully choosing and carrying out pro bono service; and
- introduce the Fellows to mentors and colleagues who can help them grow.
2022-2023 Professional Skills Academy - Calendar (all dates are tentative)* There will also be individual Fellow-mentor meetings, optional Zoom topical mentoring, and/or optional Fellows-only pay-your-own-way social events.
|Fall Service-Learning clinics (September - January): Serve four times in PBRC clinics (in-person)|
|Tues, Oct 4 (5:30 pm - 7 pm)||2022-2023 Academy Kick-Off Event||In Person in the Courtyard at Union Mill in Baltimore City|
|Fri, Oct 21 (12 pm - 2 pm)||Lit Skills: Cultural Competency||Zoom|
|Thurs, Jan 19 (5:30 pm - 7 pm)||Mid-year celebration & networking event||Zoom or in Person TBD|
|Fri, Feb 10 (12 pm - 2 pm)||Lit Skills: Working with Interpreters||Zoom|
|Spring Service-Learning clinics (March - May): Serve four times in PBRC clinics (in-person)|
|Fri, April 7 (12 pm - 2 pm)||Lit Skills: Ethics||Zoom|
|Thurs, June 22 (6 pm - 7:30 pm)||Academy Graduation and Reunion||In Person in the Courtyard at Union Mill in Baltimore City|
Why join a pro bono focused fellowship program?
1. Recent research* demonstrates that in Maryland, younger lawyers are doing much less pro bono than older lawyers. However, the need is only grows larger, and as older lawyers retire, a tremendous gap looms between the need for civil legal aid and the supply of pro bono lawyers.
Our goal is to increase the capacity of younger lawyers to rise to this challenge.
2. Many pro bono needs are too complex to be met by non-specializing lawyers who have taken only a single topical training.
Our goal is to help lawyers grow their comfort level with client and courtroom advocacy; identify an area of personal commitment; and start mapping their course to fulfill that commitment.
3. We believe the most effective way to learn legal skills is a combination of seeing, doing, and discussing questions with seasoned advocates.
Our goal is to spark connections between newer and more experienced lawyers that will strengthen the profession as a whole.
4. We believe a commitment to pro bono service to the community is “caught, not taught.” In fact, it is fun!
Our goal is to bring lawyers together, and allow each to inspire the others.
* "SUPPORTING JUSTICE IN MARYLAND: A Report on the Pro Bono Work of Maryland’s Lawyers," American Bar Association, Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service, July 2017.
Applicants selected as fellows are expected to attend all program events. If your schedule does not allow you to attend a live training, you must watch the training video within two weeks.
What will this look like?
Though the pandemic creates uncertainty, Fellows should expect that over the 10-month program “year,” they will spend at least 65 hours in the training, clinical pro bono service, and required events. Around 20 of those hours will be outside core business hours.
Beyond this, each Fellow will connect with a mentor, based on mutual convenience, several times in the year, remotely or in person. Fellows may also be invited to optional events, and will have a debrief call at the end of the year.
For any live clinics and trainings offered are likely to be in downtown Baltimore.
Content: In-court practice
The program seeks to give Fellows the experience of in-court practice (particularly in rent court), and the confidence that goes with that experience.
Content: Other lawyering skills
Our immigration clinic provides an excellent mentored introduction to client interviewing and counseling.
The skills trainings will be focused on a) ethical tips for remote practice; b) District Court advocacy; c) basics of experts; and d) basics of depositions.
The last practice unit will give Fellows a choice of service but may include more in-court work (rent escrow case work or consumer protection); or more transactional or counseling work (estate planning or other home preservation projects).
Content: Mentoring and community
Mentoring will include at least four interactions (remote or in person) and at least one substantive interaction. A substantive interaction means either attending an Academy service clinic with the Fellow, or inviting the Fellow to join the mentor for a significant event.
We anticipate optional Fellows-only social events, to allow current and past Fellows to meet and build community and professional relationships in a less formal setting.
Focus: Serving in a crisis
2020 is distinctive because of the pandemic. While we have lost some predictability, we have gained an opportunity to be at the forefront of learning to serve in new ways.
Focus: The habit of pro bono
The Academy seeks to build patterns of pro bono service into the Fellows’ lives. At the end of the year, we interview each Fellow and help them create pro bono service goals for next year.
As part of the application, all applicants are asked to list a supportive reference (a former or current supervisor, law faculty, or another Maryland lawyer or mentor). At the end of the year, we will invite each completing Fellow’s reference to the recognition event.
Basis of Selection
Applicants will be selected on the basis of demonstrated commitment to professionalism and ability to clearly articulate what they hope to accomplish on behalf of others, and what they hope to gain from the program. Some preference will be given to lawyers in private practice.
|Sarah Adkisson, Esq.
“I wanted to gain courtroom practice experience with close supervision and help from a mentor.”
|Kate Anderson, Esq.
“After switching jobs, I missed working directly with clients and the PBRC Academy was the perfect vehicle to allow me to engage with clients and learn new areas of the law in a structured way.”
|Victoria Bethel, Esq.
“After the clinics, I thought, ‘Wow, I really helped someone – I helped a couple of people today,’ and I wished I could do it more often.”
|Kimberly Caspari, Esq.
“The Academy pushed me beyond legal learning into creativity, and gave me ways to provide other sorts of resources to clients. It was a very, very good experience — a step beyond.”
|Elaina Christmas, Esq.
“I found the Lunch & Learn trainings relevant and helpful, and appreciated the level of engagement they provided, as well as the open question time where participants could ask questions about sensitive topics.”
|Stephen Freeman, Esq.
“The Academy was a great program, particularly in exposing attorneys to different areas of law and providing a chance to be in court.”
|Jocelyne Gresock, Esq.
“I found my connections with other Fellows beneficial and had client situations arise where Fellows worked together to share resources.”
|Nancy Hudes, Esq.
“After a stint at home raising children, I felt the structure and framework of the Academy would provide me with a formal-feeling mechanism for reentering the profession.”
|Angela Kuan, Esq.
“Doing pro bono work has increased my hope, because I see the positive impact our work has on the community.”
|Kenneth Lemberg, Esq.
“I wanted to explore litigation to round out my legal experience and take fuller advantage of what I learned in law school.”
|Snehal Massey, Esq.
“If you are new to pro bono work, you will benefit from the PBRC model. They want success for the client just as much as they want the volunteer attorney to enjoy the experience.”
|Shavina Mukesh, Esq.
“My mentor was amazing. He talked with me about how to grow as a solo practitioner. He was a nurturing mentor not only to me, but to the other Fellows too.”
|Olamide Orebamjo, Esq.
“The most rewarding part of working with tenants in rent court was knowing that I could be there for them as a lawyer, and they would not have to be alone.”
|Sieglinde Peterson, Esq.
“The Academy gave me the key to contribute to my community and added something very meaningful to my life.”
|Maura Ward, Esq.
“The Academy was a great way to learn new skills with support from experienced attorneys. I’m proud of the work I performed outside of my comfort zone.”
|Nyasha West, Esq.
“The Academy provided a great chance to grow in my advocacy. I had an amazing mentor!”
|Flavia Williamson, Esq.
“I deeply appreciated my connection with my mentor and I was grateful for the ways she willingly shared her experience in the legal profession.”
The Professional Skills Academy invites you to give back by investing in a newer lawyer.
Mentors are experienced lawyers and judges who invest in Academy Fellows by meeting, listening, and sharing perspective and experience.
Required Activities: Each mentor agrees to:
a. Commit to attend all three major Academy events: (dates/times are tentative)
- Kick-off Event (In person, Baltimore County, Sept. 23, 6:00-7:30 pm);
- Mid-Year Celebration (In person, tent. Jan. 27, 2022, 6:00-7:30 pm); and
- Graduation (In person, tent. June 23, 2022, 6:00-7:30 pm).
b. Meet (in person or by phone) 4 times over the year with your mentee, including at least one substantive interaction. A substantive interaction means either attending an Academy service clinic with your mentee, or inviting your mentee to join you for a significant event (shadow you at a hearing; attend a bar event as your guest; etc.)
For more information, contact Director of Education, Dave Pantzer (email@example.com).
Sponsors of the Professional Skills Academy:
Bar Association Insurance Trust
To access the Academy Intranet, visit https://probonomd.org/academy-intranet/
You will work with a cohort of other volunteers who desire to serve their community; build practice skills; and develop their leadership in the pro bono community.
The Academy provides a path to leadership within the Maryland pro bono community. At the end of the program, you will meet with a PBRC staff attorney to explore “next steps” for learning and service tailored to your interests, as well as opportunities to help newer lawyers on this journey.
Meet your Obligation
The Maryland Rules provide that full-time lawyers “should aspire to render at least 50 hours per year of pro bono publico legal service.” However this is not easy, and lawyers (new or experienced) are not likely to “fall into” success without a plan.