Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : May 2009

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 PRO BONO Profile:  

Working in the field of domestic violence is tough. Attorneys work deals with clients who are usually at the most humiliating, most depressing and most helpless point in their life. And sometimes, just when the victim thought things couldn’t get worse, that the odds couldn’t be more unfairly stacked against them, their abuser files a criminal charge against them. If the victim loses, they could spend time in jail regardless of everything that has been done to them.

As a general rule, legal service providers do not do criminal work. They are agencies with domestic violence attorneys who handle protective orders for clients who have been victims of abuse. These are civil matters, not criminal. The attorney handling that protective order case will probably not be able to take on the criminal issue, especially if the case is difficult and complex.

If I have a
skill that can be put to some good, why not use it for some good?

Michael J. Belsky, Esq.


This is where Michael J. Belsky, Esq., a principal in the Baltimore law firm of Schlachman, Belsky & Weiner, PA, has been of great help to domestic violence victims over the years. Belsky’s practice generally focuses on medical malpractice, products liability and automobile insurance. Over his years of practice, he has also gained a great deal of experience in the criminal field by handling some high-profile criminal cases.

“A number of years ago, I observed a really bad domestic violence case handled by an attorney with the House of Ruth, where the victim had been charged criminally by her abuser,” Belsky recalls. “I was impressed with the case and the professionalism of the attorney and decided that this was a way I could give something back to the community.”

Belsky has been volunteering with the House of Ruth for the last eight or nine years, and during that time has taken on approximately 30 criminal cases for them. “For a criminal defense attorney,” Belsky asks, “what do you do to volunteer? This is a really good venue for criminal defense attorneys to get involved in pro bono work and help out people who are the victims of an abuse of the system. It makes you feel good.” Not only does Belsky volunteer for these types of cases but he also takes the ones which are the most egregious.

“I believe that it is important for people to give back to their community, to help those who are not as fortunate,” Belsky states. “If I have a skill that can be put to some good, why not use it for some good?”

Support pro bono work in your community. Add your resources to the fight. For more information on legal service volunteer opportunities in Maryland, contact the PBRC at (410) 837-9379 or (800) 396-1274, or e-mail pbrc@probonomd.org.
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Publications : Bar Bulletin: May 2009

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