The 2006 Pro Bono Service Awards
Once a year, the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland has the unique privilege
of recognizing lawyers, judges and others in the legal profession for their
distinguished pro bono service to the community. This year, seven recipients
were named for this year's Maryland Pro Bono Service Awards on June 17 at the
Maryland State Bar Association's Annual Meeting in Ocean City.
Here are their stories.
Individual Attorney Awards
- Ann Baer Cogan, Esq., has been committed to the concept that everyone
deserves access to justice since her early days at the Legal Aid Bureau,
Inc., in the late-1980s and early-1990s. For the past three years, Cogan
has guided the Harford County Pro Bono Committee in the formulation of a
plan to survey the pro bono needs of the citizens of Harford County. She
leads by example, and nowhere is this more evident than in her commitment
to "open the courthouse door" in spite of being a solo practitioner and mother
of school-aged children with many personal community obligations.
- It is sometimes hard to know just how many hours Anu B. Kemet, Esq., gives
in pro bono service because he doesn't always tell the staff he is coming.
Since 2001, Kemet has been showing up two or three times a week to volunteer
his time at the Legal Clinic of the Prince George's County Law Foundation.
No fanfare, no spotlights – just helping people with their legal problems.
Despite a diversified caseload (and being a popular business lecturer nationwide),
the co-founder of Kemet & Hunt, PLLC, finds the time to give back to his
- As a first-year associate Sharvari Dalal-Dheini, Esq., recommended that
Whiteford, Taylor & Preston L.L.P. establish an asylum project with agency
Human Rights First. Dalal-Dheini assisted in the establishment of the project
and with nine other attorneys and a paralegal became the firm's asylum representation
team. During 2005, she devoted 222 hours to working pro bono on asylum casework.
Through this effort, Dalal-Dheini has become an invaluable resource to firm
attorneys working on asylum cases as well as successfully assisting three
clients in obtaining asylum status here in Maryland.
Herbert S. Garten Special Project Award
The work began for the law firm of Reese & Carney, LLP, at the beginning
of 2004 and continued throughout that whole year as they fought to save 300
housing units in Columbia in Howard County. They worked in conjunction with
Columbia Housing Corporation to save these units that were so desperately needed
by the very low-income residents in the neighborhood. The attorneys of the
firm had to negotiate, coordinate and prepare all the documentation needed
to successfully navigate the Byzantine maze of HUD property-transfer requirements.
By the time the work was finished and the units made safe, Reese & Carney,
LLP had logged over 273 hours of partner, associate and staff time.
- Bregman Berbert Schwartz & Gilday co-counseled with the Legal Aid
Bureau and challenged the Governor's Office. In the 2006 budget, Governor
Robert L. Ehrlich removed medical assistance funding for legal immigrant
children and pregnant women who have been in the country less than five years.
The Circuit Court of Montgomery County granted a preliminary injunction and
the case is now before the Court of Appeals. The pro bono work performed
by the firm consisted of numerous hours of fast and furious constitutional
and statutory case law research as well as litigation, sometimes in multiple
forums, simultaneously. Success means life-saving benefits to approximately
- Large law firms can have tremendous impact on pro bono work on multiple
fronts. However, support must come from the top down, and Saul Ewing LLP has
decided to do just that. In January of 2005, Saul Ewing committed to addressing
pro bono needs in its communities by hiring a full-time pro bono counsel
and supporting her with a committee of partners and associates. The firm-wide
effort "We're All In" is an initiative in which every attorney agrees to
provide legal representation to an individual or group who could not otherwise
afford it. As a result, Saul Ewing attorneys provided over 7,111 hours in
pro bono work in 2005. Compared to the year before, this represented an increase
of over 200 percent.
Judges Michael Galloway, J. Barry Hughes and Thomas F. Stansfield of the
Circuit Court of Carroll County believe the best manner in which to improve
the practice of family law in Carroll County is meeting with the practitioners
face-to-face. They accomplish this through a series of practices seminars sponsored
by the Maryland Volunteers Lawyers Service (MVLS). The volunteers receive the
training they need and then agree to take a pro bono case through MVLS. These
seminars provide an opportunity for the members of the bench to answer questions
from practitioners in a neutral setting.
These honorees have worked zealously to help ensure that equal access to
justice is a reality for those who would have otherwise slipped through the
cracks. The dedication, persistence and compassion exhibited by these determined
volunteers set an example for all of the legal profession.
If you would like to volunteer for pro bono work, please contact Jon Moseley
at the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, Inc., at (800) 396-1274 or (410)
Jon Moseley is Volunteer Services Coordinator for
the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland.