Volunteer Profile: Deb Salim, Esq.


What brought you to begin and continue to build your legal career in Maryland?

I am from Baltimore. My husband’s job moved us to Memphis, TN, where I was a Black Belt instructor for 10 years. Fortunately we were able to move back home to Baltimore and I was able to attend University of Baltimore.

Can you tell me a little about your private practice?

I work as a general counsel for Maryland Pediatric Cardiology Center. I work with insurance companies concerning billing appeals, quality assurance, and making sure the practice is following state and federal regulations.

Which of PBRC’s projects do you volunteer with, and how did you get involved?

I volunteer at the Consumer Protection Clinic and Rent Court, and I was also a PBRC Academy Fellow. I don’t get to see a courtroom with my current my job, and I wanted to keep up my legal court room skills. Rent Court has been my favorite PRBC project so far.

What is the problem this project addresses, and what do you do as a volunteer to help? Has COVID-19 exacerbated this problem in any way?

Rent Court helps tenants who have an eviction summons and show up on their day of court. Due to COVID-19, many people have lost their jobs and have struggled to pay rent. However, many programs are available to help them get back on their feet and the volunteers are able to provide them with this information.

What do you find interesting about this work?

I find the clients extremely interesting and that there are actual ways for us as attorneys to help them. Even if it is just helping them to help themselves. We are providing a service and giving a light to someone who walked into court fearing they may lose the roof over their head.

What, if anything, did you find surprising about volunteering at community clinics or in-court?  What has been rewarding? What, if anything, has been frustrating?

I find that the clients are so grateful for PBRC’s support and appreciate someone being there for them. The clients appreciate someone just hearing their story and being willing to stand up in court with them. It’s so rewarding to feel like you gave someone assistance who felt helpless.

The frustration is sometimes with the system, other times with landlords who are taking advantage of their tenants, or most importantly landlords who think the have no obligation to their tenant but to take money and not reinvest some of it back to the property.

What did you find helpful/interesting about PBRC’s process? Were there difficulties?

The staff attorneys and paralegals are so friendly and helpful! I volunteer consistently now because I like to help others, but also because I like to work with the PBRC attorneys and staff.

How does the project make it easy to volunteer?

It’s so easy to volunteer! It’s 3-4 hours at a time, clients will walk up to you, and your representation is only for that clinic, never extending after that time. The training provided by PBRC is great and there is always a staff attorney to help you.

How has doing pro bono work changed you?

Pro Bono work makes me remember why I wanted to be an attorney, which is to help others who are being taken advantage of by others. Pro Bono also keeps me in touch with what’s happening in the world, as you begin to see gaps in the system but also recognize that there are so many good people trying to fill those gaps and make our city a better place.

How important do you think pro bono work is to the legal profession?

Pro Bono work is extremely important work in the legal profession because it not only helps clients in need, but gives us as attorney a chance to learn more about other facets of the law from those who practice in other areas.

What do you think other people should know about pro bono advocacy? 

The few hours you give of your legal time will help someone for weeks, months, or a lifetime. You are providing just not advocacy but an education as you explain what options they have to deal with their problem.

What message would you give to attorneys thinking about volunteering?

Just do it! It’s easy to work with the staff attorneys, the support staff is great, and you walk away with some great, feel good stories.

For more information about volunteering in Maryland, please contact: education@probonomd.org

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