Table of Contents
July Case Placements
A New Face at MVLS
Women's Giving Circle of Frederick County Grant
Join the Sustainers Circle
Case of the Month
You're Invited to Celebrate Pro Bono
What Trainings Should MVLS Offer?
New Partnership with Advocates for Children and Youth
Learn How $250 Equals $500 With a CITC Tax Credit
MVLS and CJ Launch Pilot Mediation Brief Advice Project

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization. 

You can ensure access to justice for low-income Marylanders by making a donation today!

Interested in taking a pro bono case? Click the link above for the latest list of available cases or click below to learn more about volunteering.



July Case Placements  

73 MVLS volunteers accepted 91 cases in May. The names of these volunteers are listed on our Facebook page. 

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.


 Like us on Facebook

A New Face at MVLS
Lonni Summer, MVLS' Managing Attorney of the Foreclosure and Consumer Law Program

Please join us in welcoming Lonni Summers to the MVLS team.  Lonni started in July as MVLS' Managing Attorney of the Foreclosure Prevention and Consumer Law Program.  

At MVLS, she'll focus her practice on housing and consumer matters, including bankruptcy, tax sales, third party debt collection defense and foreclosure.


Before joining MVLS, Lonni was a Policy Analyst at the Maryland Access to Justice Commission, supervised law students in one of the oldest clinical law programs in Washington, D.C., and staffed the award-winning District Court Self-Help Center where she advised thousands of litigants on a wide variety of consumer matters.


Lonni is a 2009 graduate of Drexel University School of Law. 

MVLS Receives Grant from the Women's Giving Circle of Frederick County

MVLS was recently awarded a generous grant from the Women's Giving Circle of Frederick County, a wonderful organization that supports MVLS and other nonprofits helping Frederick County women and their families.

In June, MVLS paralegal Jessica Rich, a Frederick resident herself, and Executive Director Bonnie Sullivan attended the Giving Circle's Annual Tea to formally accept the grant.  Jessica spoke to attendees about MVLS' growing presence in Frederick County and how civil legal services can help lift women and children out of poverty.  


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 for more information or sign up now!  

"Maria's" Story:  
MVLS Volunteer Lawyer Jos� Z. Canto

When Maria contacted MVLS, she was scared.  The protective order she had against her ex-boyfriend "Robert"  was expiring in less than a month and she desperately wanted to establish sole physical and legal custody of their four year-old son.  Maria told Senior Paralegal Tara Miles that she was scared her ex wanted to take their child out of the country. 

Maria had tried to file for custody of her son before.  But, despite working multiple jobs at a coffee shop and as a house cleaner, Maria could not afford to hire a lawyer.  Her financial problems were compounded by the fact that Robert had not paid child support in three years.  

In the hallway of the courthouse just before the first hearing, Robert's lawyer told Maria that she had no chance of winning the case because she didn't have a lawyer.  He also said that she would have to pay his $4,000 attorney's fee and that the police would take Maria to jail when the hearing was over.  Maria was so scared that she told the judge that she wanted to drop her petition for full custody.  

Unfortunately, this outcome did not stop Robert's abusive behavior and he became increasingly aggressive. He followed Maria to her apartment and work and threatened her and her family.  He continued his physical abuse as well.  Maria was also concerned about inappropriate behavior behavior that her son was exposed to when he was with Robert.  After visitations, he would come home knowing bad words and he began acting out in preschool.  

When Robert started texting Maria with threats to take their son out of the country, she knew she needed the law on her side to protect herself and her son.  She called MVLS and spoke to Tara, who handles MVLS' highly contested family law cases. Tara knew just who to call - MVLS volunteer Jos� Z. Canto, founder of the Canto Law Firm in Bethesda, who agreed to take the case.  


You're Invited to Celebrate Pro Bono

Join MVLS and University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law's Maryland Public Interest Law Project to honor those who have made noteworthy contributions to the delivery of pro bono legal services over the past year.  Guests will enjoy a complementary light fare and beverages while networking with peers and listening to remarks from a yet-to-be announced keynote speaker.


The reception also kicks off Maryland's participation in the American Bar Association's national Celebrate Pro Bono Week (October 19-25).  


Celebrate Pro Bono is free for attendees but advanced registration is required.  Online registration is now open! Click here to register online or contact Stephanie Austin at or 443 451-4065.

We Want to Hear from YOU! 

MVLS periodically offers free trainings in various areas of the law such as family law, tax and bankruptcy.  These trainings are an easy way to refresh your knowledge or learn something new.  If you have a recommendation for a training subject, please contact Susan Francis at or 443 451-4084.   

New Partnership with Advocates for Children and Youth
MVLS is proud to announce a new partnership with Advocates for Children and Youth (ACY).  ACY is an independent nonprofit organization that advocates for the needs of Maryland's children and families.  ACY recently launched an online tool to simplify the the process of determining eligibility for criminal record expungement because having a criminal record can negatively affect many aspects of a person's life - most importantly the ability to be gainfully employed and secure stable housing.  

MVLS will be taking referrals from ACY for people who qualify for criminal record expungement and meet our income guidelines.  Our paralegal staff will recruit volunteer attorneys to expunge records and help motivated individuals get a fresh start.

CITCWant to Get 50% of Your Donation to MVLS Back in Your Pocket?  
MVLS was recently awarded $50,000 in Community Investment Tax Credits (CITC) from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.  The CITC program supports nonprofits by granting MD State tax credits to organizations like MVLS which they, in turn, use to encourage contributions.
Donations of $500 or more from eligible donors (Maryland residents and businesses that pay Maryland taxes, are brand-new donors or haven't made a gift in more than twelve months) may be eligible for 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.  

If you're interested in reducing your 2014 Maryland tax liability while helping MVLS provide access to justice to low and moderate income Marylanders, please consider taking advantage of this program.  The tax benefits are significant, as illustrated below, and we promise that your investment in our mission will provide life-changing civil legal services for Maryland's working poor.

2013 tax rates of 7% State and 39% Federal are shown as illustrative purposes only. The net cost of your donation depends on your tax rate. Consult with your accountant or tax professional.

Contact Stephanie Austin at 443 451-4065 or for more information or with your intent to donate to confirm tax credits are still available.

MVLS and Civil Justice Launch Foreclosure Mediation Brief Advice Project
Despite the best efforts of MVLS and other legal service and housing organizations, 80% of homeowners do not have a lawyer to represent them at mediation hearings.  

Thanks to support from the Department of Housing and Community Development, MVLS is partnering with Civil Justice to launch a Foreclosure Mediation Brief Advice Pilot Project.  Every Monday and Wednesday from 8am-4:30pm, volunteer lawyers will staff a table at the Office of Administrative Hearings in Hunt Valley to answer homeowners foreclosure-related questions, review documents and make referrals to legal services programs for full representation.  They will not attend mediations.  Any homeowner can seek legal advice if they have a mediation that day or at a future date.  There are no appointments - volunteers will be available on a first-come, first served basis. 

If you know a homeowner that may benefit from these brief advice sessions, please let them know this resource is available. If you have any questions or want to volunteer, please contact Lonni Summers at

Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization.


MVLS is certified by Maryland Nonprofits as compliant with their Standards of Excellence for maintaining the highest standards of ethics and accountability in non-profit governance, management and operations.