Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : July 2005

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MD Legal Community Gathers for Partners in Justice Conference
By Janet Stidman Eveleth

On May 18, over 200 representatives from Maryland’s legal community gathered at Baltimore’s Convention Center for the 7th Annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. Hosted by the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland (PBRC), this event was cosponsored by numerous organizations including the Maryland State Bar Association’s Delivery of Legal Services Section. Highlights from the day-long event included: greetings from Robert M. Bell, Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Maryland; a keynote address by Nan Aron, President of the Alliance for Justice; and a series of breakout sessions focusing on timely legal services issues.

“This is a critical conference,” proclaimed the Chief Judge, as he greeted the audience. “It deals with access to justice. People on the inside of the justice system – people like you – must be involved in it to ensure our justice system is accessible to all citizens. Your role in this is critical.”

“In recent years, our legal system has been under attack,” Bell continued. “We must all do our part to see that the Rule of Law prevails. Citizens’ acceptance of our justice system is contingent on their having faith, trust and confidence in it. Our system must be open and accessible so that it provides full and fair justice for all. Your efforts in this are critical and together we are making progress.”

“We are privileged to do the work we do and are blessed to do it in Maryland,” stated Susan Erlichman, Executive Director of the Maryland Legal Services Corporation, another Conference cosponsor. “Maryland’s legal services community is the most vibrant in the nation.” She considered this conference a “great opportunity to come together and focus on legal services.”

The balance of the conference was devoted to strategic planning sessions and panels addressing a broad spectrum of issues facing the poor and unrepresented populations such as immigrants, the elderly, juveniles and victims of domestic violence. Everything from lead poisoning, preying on the elderly, housing law and prisoner reentry to immigrants, family law, helping kids caught up in the system, voting rights and working with the media was covered.

“The Partnership Conference provides a golden opportunity for the legal services community, the private bar and the bench to come together and strategize about ways in which we can partner to meet the legal needs of the underserved,” declares Lauren Kallins, Chair of MSBA’s Delivery of Legal Services Section, one of the sponsors of this gathering.

“The sessions I attended resulted in very productive and candid dialogue about how to improve the state’s pro bono action plan and how firms and providers can improve the efficiency of placing pro bono cases,” Kallins continues. “A number of concrete next steps came out of these sessions that could improve access to justice for many Marylanders which, of course, is what the conference is ultimately all about.”

Sharon E. Goldsmith, PBRC’s Executive Director, was very pleased with the conference. “It was extremely successful, both in terms of attendance and quality of programming,” she reports. “The wealth of knowledge and experience of our panelists was quite impressive and provided for great energy and a wonderful exchange of ideas.”

“This conference truly provides a unique opportunity for people in Maryland and neighboring jurisdictions to discuss how effective we are in delivering legal services and strategize on the broader issues around access to justice,” Goldsmith adds. “PBRC is quite proud to be the sponsor of this conference and grateful for the collaborative effort of so many legal services programs, judges and individual lawyers who make this possible each year.”

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: July, 2005

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