It is easy to be overwhelmed by the enormous need we see around us. However, it is possible to use this to impel rather than impede. The great American author, statesman and reformer Frederick Douglass once stated, “Man’s greatness consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done.” Michael W. Siri is a testament to that truth.
Siri is a business law attorney with the Towson-based firm of Bowie & Jensen, LLC. His parents emigrated from Thailand in the ’60s to become a part of the American dream, and through their hard work, sacrifice and dedication they succeeded. They believed in community involvement and taught Siri the importance of giving back. He does so through pro bono work as well as getting involved in numerous community projects.
consists in his ability to do and the proper application of his powers to things needed to be done"
Siri is a member of the firm’s litigation department. “I’m very lucky,” he says. “Bowie & Jensen is very supportive of the pro bono work that I and other members of the firm do.” Siri has taken on a number of pro bono mortgage scam cases through the Legal Aid Bureau’s office in Baltimore County.
In this type of case, the “foreclosure consultant” fraudulently convinces a homeowner to sign over the deed to his or her house and then proceeds to strip out the equity. “It’s a shame,” Siri states. “These companies take advantage of people at their darkest hour – it’s just not fair.” Siri was recently successful in winning a six-figure judgment for his client against one of these “consultants”.
Siri believes that, in addition to taking cases, it is important to enable other attorneys to help as well. As past Chair of the MSBA Young Lawyers Section, he worked with the Pro Bono Resource Center to help establish the Pro Bono Mentoring Program.
The concept of the Mentoring Program is to encourage new attorneys to take pro bono cases by having more experienced attorneys mentor them during the life of the pro bono case. “New attorneys usually do not have a lot of money to contribute,” Siri explains, “but what they do have is time.”
Siri leads by example with the work he is doing in conjunction with the Mississippi Center for Justice through the University of Maryland School of Law. He is assisting another Bowie & Jensen attorney with several cases arising out of the Hurricane Katrina disaster.
usually do not have a lot of money to contribute, but what they do have is time."
MICHAEL W. SIRI
True to form, Siri not only applies his abilities to those things that are being done but also to those things yet to do. He helped initiate the “One Bar, One Community” program, whereby members of the private bar work together on projects from September through June each year to help improve the community. Attorneys volunteer for projects such as sorting food at a food pantry, helping build a house or serving meals at a homeless shelter. “My philosophy is that if we all just did a little bit of work, if we all just helped out a little, we could make this world a much better place,” Siri says.
Support the legal service agencies in your community. Add your resources to the fight. For more information on volunteer opportunities in Maryland, please contact Jon Moseley at the Pro Bono Resource Center office at (410) 837-9379 or (800) 396-1274, or e-mail.
Jon Moseley is Director of Volunteer Services & Community Outreach for the ProBonoResourceCenter of Maryland.