Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin

June, 2004

MD LEGAL SERVICES COMMUNITY GATHERS FOR ANNUAL CONFERENCE
By Janet Stidman Eveleth

On May 20, Maryland’s legal services community gathered in Baltimore to participate in the sixth annual Maryland Legal Services Partnership Conference. This event, sponsored by the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, Inc. (PBRC), attracted a record crowd, as over 240 attorneys, judges and others involved in the delivery of legal services convened to examine key issues surrounding pro bono service in the state.
“Maryland is unique in its effective delivery of legal services,” proclaimed Mark Scurti, PBRC President, as he opened the conference. Scurti has always been impressed with Maryland’s spirit of collaboration and believes this is the main reason that “our state serves as a legal services model across the country.”

“The focus of pro bono awareness in Maryland has never been higher,” he continued. “As a result of the new pro bono rules, we have seen an increase in attorney donations and attorney volunteerism, and we expect this to continue.” However, he cautioned that “we still have a long way to go to ensure access to justice for all.”

MSBA President Harry S. Johnson told the audience how proud MSBA was to co-sponsor this outstanding conference. He spoke of the American Bar Association and MSBA’s support of Legal Services Corporation funding and the steadfast support of Maryland’s delegation in the U.S. Senate and Congress. “Maryland is a visionary, evidenced by the legal services coalition we have formed to make it work.”

After State Court Administrator Frank Broccolina offered greetings on behalf of Chief Judge Robert M. Bell, Court of Appeals of Maryland, and the Judiciary, prominent lawyers and judges led workshop discussions on everything from affordable housing, the pursuit of public interest law, local pro bono planning and advocacy for children to the judicial view of effective persuasion. Afternoon sessions focused on the impact of divorce litigation, non-traditional advocacy, benefits for clients, raising the next generation, immigration law and “Civil Gideon.”

One of the highlights of the day-long conference was a dynamic address by luncheon keynote speaker Justice Rosalie Abella of the Ontario Court of Appeals. Abella spoke on justice in society today. “It is my fervent belief that the commitment of the legal services community upholds our justice system…you are the ones who give people access to justice,” Abella said. “We must deliver justice to a society that is increasingly feeling injustice. There is no justice without rights, and no rights without justice.”

“Our conference was a tremendous success,” states Sharon E. Goldsmith, PBRC’s Executive Director. “It was a great collaborative effort. This effort is meaningful because every aspect of the legal services community comes together. We had representatives from legal services providers, the organized bar, law schools, the Judiciary and the private bar. This collective group shared ideas and information and developed strategy to address the challenging issues that affect our clients.”

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: June, 2004

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