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April Case Placements
91 MVLS volunteers helped 147 clients last month by accepting a pro bono or judicare case or volunteering for a legal clinic.
The names of these volunteers are listed on our
Please join us in thanking these individuals for their exceptional work on behalf of our clients by liking or commenting on the post. Don't forget to like our page once you're there.
Interested in taking a pro bono case? We're looking for volunteers for the following cases:
Bankruptcy in Anne Arundel County
Client needs assistance with filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Client is disabled/wheelchair bound with limited literacy skills. Client owns no real property, has no alimony or child support obligations, and has been on disability for the past 3 years. Client has about $8000 in debt, primarily medical bills that have been turned over to collection agencies. To assist MVLS client 14-0107764, please contact Monica Fulwood at 443-451-4087 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dorchester County Estate Administration
Client is the maternal grandmother and legal custodian of her 8-year-old disabled grandson, whom a trust was set up for in 2013 following a medical malpractice case. Clients understanding of proceeds from trust was the trust would pay for transportation and housing. Client, who is the Trust Settlor, was authorized by the Trustee to purchase a wheelchair accessible van and an affordable home for the child. Client's name is not on the home and if something were to happen to her grandson, she would have to move out. The house is registered in the name of the special needs trust. Client was receiving a $1363/month annuity and was using this to pay the mortgage and other miscellaneous needs for grandson. Recently the Trustee became ill and another attorney took over the administration of the trust. The new Trustee told the client she is not to pay the mortgage and stopped disbursing monies from the trust for this purpose. Client has since been paying the mortgage out of her own pocket. Client needs assistance with ensuring money from the trust is provided to pay the mortgage. Client currently has a limited income of SSI in the amount of $720 month for the child. To assist MVLS client 15-0110472, please contact Makeisha Gibson at 443-451-4072 or
Divorce in Wicomico County
Disabled client needs assistance with filing for an Absolute Divorce with no property. Client has been married for 16.5 years and separated 4 years. Client has no children in common with spouse. As of today nothing has been filed. If you are interested in this case, contact Lakisha Overton at email@example.com or 443-451-4089.
Not on our volunteer panel? Click below to learn how to become an MVLS volunteer.
Award Winning MVLS Volunteers and Staff
Nancy Grimm and Bill Dorrill Receive the William Reece Smith Jr. Pro Bono Award
We're so pleased that MVLS volunteers Nancy Grimm and Bill Dorrill were recognized for their extraordinary contributions to equal access to justice and pro bono with the William Reece Smith Jr. Pro Bono Award. Nancy accepted the award on her and Bill's behalf on the Equal Justice Conference in Austin, TX earlier this month. The award is presented by NAPBPro to an individual(s) who have made outstanding commitments to and positive impacts on the institutions or systems of providing pro bono legal services. Congratulations on this very well deserved honor!
MVLS Board Members Larry Coppel and Chris Rahl to Receive 2015 Distinguished Pro Bono Volunteer Award
Larry Coppel (left) and Chris Rahl (right) are recipients of the 2015 Distinguished Pro Bono Volunteer Award - a Maryland Pro Bono Service Award presented by Pro Bono Resource Center. This award is presented to someone who is an exemplar of pro bono service, going above and beyond the average pro bono commitment either over a period time or through extended service in a complex matter or case. Larry and Chris will receive their award during the Maryland State Bar Association Annual Meeting in Ocean City on Saturday June 13th.
MVLS Volunteer Kristy Boon to Receive the Lee A. Caplan Award
Kristy Boon is the 2015 recipient of the Lee A. Caplan Award - a Maryland Pro Bono Service Award presented by Pro Bono Resource Center. This award is presented annually to a solo or small firm practitioner who has rendered pro bono service over many years. Ms. Boon accepted her first pro bono case from MVLS in 1996 and has accepted 50 cases since then. Kristy will receive her award during the Maryland State Bar Association Annual Meeting in Ocean City on Saturday June 13th.
The Baltimore City Law Department and Robert Anbinder to Receive Government or Corporate Legal Department Award
The Baltimore City Law Department and Robert Anbinder are the 2015 recipients of the Government or Corporate Legal Department Award - a Maryland Pro Bono Service Award presented by Pro Bono Resource Center. This award is presented annually to any public agency or private corporate department which incorporates pro bono legal services into its general practice. This award will be presented during the Maryland State Bar Association Annual Meeting in Ocean City on Saturday June 13th.
MVLS Deputy Director Susan Francis accepted into the MSBA Leadership Academy
MVLS Deputy Director Susan Francis was recently accepted as a Fellow of the Maryland State Bar Association's Leadership Academy. Each year, 15 Fellows are selected to participate in the 12 month program which is designed to assist lawyers as they become better leaders and offer opportunities for future leadership roles in the MSBA. During their term, the Fellows will spend time attending MSBA events, developing and implementing a public service project, as well as attending a special program on public speaking, media relations, interviewing skills, conducting effective meetings, budgeting and many other related areas. Fellows establish a relationship with past Bar Presidents and current bar leaders to learn more about the MSBA and to enhance leadership skills. Congratulations!
Volunteers Needed for Baltimore City Pro Bono Day
Volunteers are need for the Summer Baltimore City Pro Bono Day, a partnership between the Bar Association of Baltimore City's Pro Bono Committee, Maryland Legal Aid, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, and the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland.
We need attorney volunteers to give brief advice in the areas of: family law, landlord-tenant, wills, advance directives, bankruptcy, workers compensation, foreclosures, business law, employment, real estate, social security disability, consumer, expungement, government benefits and tax law.
We also need other volunteers to assist with escorting clients to their consultation rooms and event organization.
Register for a volunteer shift, starting at 8am and ending at 12:30pm on June 20th by clicking here.
Please direct all questions to Amy Petkovsek at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410 951-7813.
|MVLS Volunteer David Portney
It didn't take long for Warren to accumulate nearly $16,000 in debt (mostly medical bills and credit card debt) after he lost his job in 2012 and his Social Security Disability Income claim was denied. His unemployment checks, modest food stamp and temporary cash assistance (TCA) benefits were not enough to cover his living expenses. For years, Warren tried to live responsibly - he payed his taxes every year, owned no property and had no child support, alimony or student loan obligations. However, he was drowning underneath the medical debt and wanted to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to get a clean financial start.
Warren found MVLS after he attended a JustAdvice legal clinic at the District Court in Baltimore City and was referred to our pro bono program for full representation. MVLS paralegal Tara Miles recruited experienced bankruptcy volunteer David Portney, Grossbart Portney & Rosenberg to take the case.
It proved to be fortuitous that such an experienced volunteer took Warren's case because in the middle of the bankruptcy process, Warren received notice from the Social Security Administration that his disability denial had been reversed and he would be receiving the back payments owed to him as well as future monthly payments.
However, the timing of the lump sum payment was unclear and his monthly payments would not start for at least 90 days. David called MVLS to ensure that Warren still qualified for pro bono assistance in light of the pending disbursement. Once assured that he was still eligible, David discussed the options with Warren.
David explained that because the potential substantial award was coming from Social Security, it would need to be disclosed but would not count towards income in Warren's bankruptcy filing.
Warren decided it would be best to proceed with the bankruptcy. During his hearing, David cited the Social Security Act which prohibits creditors from attacking Social Security funds. Warren was granted a discharge and was able to keep his lump sum payout for a rainy day. When asked how resolving his case made a difference in his life, Warren had a simple answer: peace of mind.
Calling All Good Stories!
We're always looking for great client stories to feature in our e-newsletter, annual report and to pitch to the media for human interest stories. Most of all, we want to to highlight the great work of our volunteers. If you've recently closed a case that you think would be a good one to highlight, please bring it to our attention by letting an MVLS paralegal know or by contacting Stephanie Austin at
or 443 451-4065.
Upcoming Trainings For Lawyers
Tax Controversy Training for Attorneys
What: This free training will cover how to handle IRS and Maryland tax controversy cases for low-income taxpayers. While the training will cover handling tax cases generally, the focus of the session will be on the mechanics of advocating for the taxpayer who is battling with tax collection issues. There is no fee to attend but each participant will be asked to accept one tax controversy case over the next year. Continental breakfast will be served.
When: June 5, 2015 from 9am-1pm
Where: Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service 201 N. Charles Street, Suite 1400 Baltimore, MD 21201
Gerald Kelly, Law Office of Gerald W. Kelly, Cheri Wendt-Taczak, MVLS and James Leith, IRS Local Taxpayer Advocate will lead the training:
Intersection of Family Law and Bankruptcy
What: This training will bring together a family law practitioner and a skilled bankruptcy attorney to discuss the intersection between these two areas of law. Topics will include bankruptcy 101, property and other asset issues when your client or adverse party files bankruptcy, adverse proceedings - what are they and how do they overlap with the family court matter, drafting settlement agreements to protect your client's best interests, and post judgment matters including enforcing settlement agreements or court orders.
This training is free, but requires the acceptance of one MVLS Chapter 7 bankruptcy or family law case within a year of the training. Attorneys can choose which legal area they prefer to accept the case.
When: June 18, 2015 9am-12pm
Where: University of Baltimore Law School, Room AL102
Who: Jennifer Lubinski, Law Office of Jennifer S. Lubinski and
Wayne Clark, Law Office of Wayne Clark will lead the training
How: Visit http://www.mvlslaw.org/familylawandbankruptcy/ to register
Untangling Titles: Navigating Titles Transfers, Deed Issues and Estate Administration
What: This training will provide you with tools for addressing complex deed and title issues both during a client's lifetime and in estate administration. Topics to be discussed include handling estate and deed transfers through probate or outside of probate, deed and title transfers including drafting deeds, and litigating deed issues including quiet title actions, holding over and ejectment issues and dealing with property occupants. Training is $25 and requires the acceptance of one deed/title/estate case from MVLS over the next year. Training includes lunch. Co-sponsored with the Pro Bono Resource Center.
When: June 23, 2015 9am-4:30pm
Where: University of Baltimore School of Law, Room AL102
Who: Alice Young, Fisher & Winner, Jeffrey Thompson, Westcor Land Title Insurance Company,
Thomas Gisriel, Pessin Katz
Post-Judgment Collections Training
What: This training will discuss what post judgment collection means, how to assist clients in defending against post-judgment actions including exemptions, joint accounts, and negotiating with opposing counsel, and how to assist clients in collecting post judgments, particularly in landlord/tenant security deposit disputes. Training is free but requires the acceptance of one post judgment case from MVLS over the next year.
When: June 25, 2015 9am-12pm
Where: University of Baltimore School of Law, Room AL102
Who: Jessica Quincosa, Maryland Legal Aid and
Michelle Gilman, Professor, University of Baltimore Law School Civil Advocacy Clinic will lead the training
Save the date for trainings coming this fall including Working with Pro Se Adverse Parties (September 17 from 12pm-2pm), Forms Practice in Family Law Matters (October 13 from 9am-12pm), and Intersection of Immigration and Family Law (November 11 from 9am-12:30pm). Additional details and registration information will be forthcoming.
MVLS In The News
Spotlight on Civil Legal Assistance on Fox45
MVLS' Deputy Director Susan Francis and Managing Attorney of MVLS' Foreclosure Prevention and Consumer Law Project Lonni Summers were in the spotlight on April 23rd as they filmed a segment for FOX 45 / CW "Straight Talk with Mike Gimbel". Mike Gimbel invited MVLS on his show to help viewers better understand their consumer, homeowner and tenant rights so they can be more proactive ensuring their family's well-being and home. The segment aired on the CW Baltimore on May 3 and 17 at 5:30AM and myTV Baltimore at 12:30PM.
Civil Legal Issues that Impact Seniors
On May 18th,
MVLS Deputy Director Susan Francis
appeared on Direct Connection with Jeff Salkin - a Maryland Public Television local public affairs program. Susan discussed civil legal matters most pressing to seniors. The segment will be available to watch soon by clicking
Tax Sales Featured on WYPR
WYPR recently took a look at how tax sales impact Baltimore's low-income residents. Last year, 2,000 owner-occupied houses were sold at tax sale. These owners owed at least $250 on their tax bill or $350 on their water bill but the amount they needed to pay to the purchasers of their liens at tax sale to keep their home ballooned to thousands of dollars after interest and fees.
Senior producer Matt Purdy interviewed Margaret Henn from the Pro Bono Resource Center (PBRC) and visited one of the tax sale clinics that PBRC and MVLS put on each year ahead of the city's annual tax sale or online auction of properties that are behind on tax or water bills. At the clinic, he met Calvin, whose water bill began quadrupling last year. Calvin didn't pay his bill (totaling a few thousand dollars) because he believed it to be a mistake related to the city's history of erroneous billing. Then he got a letter telling him he was in danger of losing his house because of the delinquent bill. Calvin is currently working with the Department of Public Works to determine that bill is incorrect so he can save his home from tax sale.
We're excited to welcome six summer interns to our team this summer.
Jacob Altschuler, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
Chinwenwa Emeruem, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law
David Hornstein, University of Baltimore School of Law
Adam Kuhn, Syracuse University College of Law
Marianna Milkowski, University of Baltimore School of Law
Danielle Wiggins, University of Baltimore School of Law
Jacob and David will be interning with our Low Income Taxpayer Clinic. Chinwenwa, Adam, Marianna and Danielle will be interning with our core pro bono program. All of our interns will be assisting MVLS paralegals with client intake, returning client calls, reviewing client applications, preparing client files for referral to a volunteer attorney, drafting case summaries and mailings. The summer interns will also accompany MVLS staff attorneys on client visits, assist with preparation for client interviews, and court hearings, and conduct legal research on a variety of civil legal matters.
Welcome to all!
Case Closure Reminder for Volunteers
As MVLS nears the end of our fiscal year on June 30th and prepares for reporting to our major funders, it's important that we know the status of your cases, especially if the case is ready to be closed.
Without your case closure form, the case stays open in our system with uncertain results.
You will be receiving reminder letters in the next few weeks asking for status updates.
Please take a few minutes to complete them and return them to us. If you are sending in a judicare case closure, please make sure to include your billing invoice. You can also provide case updates at any time on our web page www.mvlslaw.org/lawyers/attorneyresources/ under Case Update/Closure Forms.
Thank you for your attention to this!
There's never been an easier way to support MVLS! Please consider joining
the Sustainers Circle
. Sustainers Circle members pledge a modest monthly donation to MVLS, either though automatic credit card transactions or monthly checks.
These regular donations create a steady and predictable stream of revenue that ensures the consistency of our pro bono services and helps us reduce fundraising costs. It's an easy, no-brainer way to support MVLS.
Contact Stephanie Austin, at 443 451-4065 or email@example.com for more information or sign up now!
CITC Tax Credits Available Now on a First Come, First Served Basis
MVLS has $34,000 in
Community Investment Tax Credits
(CITC) from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to
incentivize donations to support our work.
Donations of $500 or more from eligible donors (Maryland residents and businesses that pay Maryland taxes) are eligible for tax credits.
CITC tax credits are equal to 50% of the value of the donated money, goods or real property and are in addition to federal and state charitable tax deductions. Two sample tax scenarios are below so you can see how a donation of $1,000 to MVLS may cost you less than $50.
If you're interested in reducing your 2015 Maryland tax liability while helping MVLS provide access to justice to low and moderate income Marylanders, please contact Stephanie Austin at 443 451-4065 or firstname.lastname@example.org