Director of Advocacy for Training and Pro Bono: Amy Petkovsek
Moderator: Bobbie Steyer

Pro Bono Group

Bar Bad Bars: Protesting Liquor License Renewals

Tue, 01/21/2014 - 10:00am - 12:00pm

Free Training Opportunity for Pro Bono Attorneys:  Bar Bad Bars: Protesting Liquor License Renewals

Training Will Cover: * Building a Liquor Board case *Negotiating an MOU with a bar or liquor store * Representing community associations at Liquor Board hearings

Participating attorneys must agree to take at least one pro bono Liquor Board case from Community Law Center within one year of the training.  Mentors, case support, and malpractice insurance will be available to attorneys taking pro bono cases.

To register, visit and click on the registration link. 

Questions?  Contact Kiah Pierre at 443-703-3046 or

Location Name: 
Brown Goldstein & Levy, LLP
120 E. Baltimore St., Suite 1700
Kiah Pierre
Co-Sponsored by Community Law Center, Brown Goldstein & Levy, LLP, and Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland

Statement of Acting Commissioner of Social Security on New Payments to Same-Sex Married Couples

Statement of Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, on New Payments to Same-Sex Married Couples

December 16, 2013

"I am pleased to announce that, effective today, Social Security is processing some widow’s and widower’s claims by surviving members of same-sex marriages and paying benefits where they are due. In addition, we are able to pay some one-time lump sum death benefit claims to surviving same-sex spouses. As I stated shortly after the Supreme Court decision on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, our goal is to treat all Americans with dignity and respect.


We ask for continued patience from the public as we work closely with the Department of Justice to develop policies that are legally sound so we can process claims.

If you believe you may be eligible for Social Security, I encourage you to apply now to protect against the loss of any potential benefits. We will process claims as soon as additional instructions become finalized."

To learn more, please visit

A Human Rights Report Card

Interesting article about where the U.S. is in meeting the goals of human rights for all:

Text that came with the above link:

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the principal outcome of the landmark international conference on human rights which took place in Vienna in 1993.

The United States' track record in some of what the UDHR calls the most basic of rights—the right to life, right to vote, freedom from torture, and economic rights, among others—is greatly in need of improvement. We often don't practice what we preach. Just last week, at the annual summit hosted by Human Rights First, National Security Advisor Susan Rice publicly criticized the Iranian government for not allowing the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to visit the country. The U.S., however, lacks credible leverage to change this policy when it continues to deny U.N. human rights experts unimpeded access to the prison at Guantánamo Bay.

In commemoration of this year's Human Rights Day, we're releasing a new fact sheet that provides a critical snapshot of 12 human rights issues the United States is failing to adequately address, including some astounding statistics on persons deprived of their liberty. In 2012, the number of people held in immigration detention reached 410,000 people, an increase of more than 400 percent since 1996. Fueled by over-incarceration policies and discrimination, the incarceration rate in the United States is still the highest in the world. Other issues addressed in our fact sheet include:

  • Women's Rights
  • Criminal Justice (more specifically, capital punishment, life without parole for children)
  • Voting Rights
  • LGBT Rights
  • Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Socioeconomic Rights
  • Racial Profiling
  • Children's Rights
  • Accountability for Torture

In addition to the areas addressed in the fact sheet, the United States also continues to set a poor example for other countries when it comes to mass surveillancetargeted killings, and more.

As our fact sheet explains:

Without doubt the U.S. continues to provide global leadership on some human rights issues. For example, the current administration provided vigorous leadership in fighting for LGBT equality, combating trafficking, and championing religious freedom and peaceful assembly rights. But while some U.S. laws and policies have been comparatively advanced in protecting civil rights and civil liberties, the U.S. has fallen behind in protecting the universal human rights recognized by the UDHR. Our government has only partially and selectively embraced these rights, ignoring international obligations and widening the gap between the United States' sixty-five-year-old promise and its own current practice.

As we celebrate Human Rights Day, we cannot forget urgent and ongoing domestic human rights violations, like mass incarceration and juvenile life without parole. For people like Henry Hill, who has spent half of the UDHR's history behind bars, paying our respects to human rights once a year won't get him home.

Fact Sheet FINAL.pdf81.79 KB

ABA training on cultural competency and victims of domestic violenc

The American Bar Association presents the following in February:


Two-day Training on Use and Integration of Interpreters in Civil Protection Order Representation of Victims of Domestic, Sexual & Stalking Violence


Location: Washington, D.C.

Dates: February 26-27, 2014


This Training is designed to provide attorneys who represent victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking with the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge about providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services to victims who are Limited English Proficient and/or Deaf or Hard of Hearing. 


Registration will close January 10. For more information, click here.

A quick way to get Social Security income verification

From the Social Security Administration Update; November 2013:

This time of year, a lot of people need proof of their income. People can use their cost-of-living adjustment notice or their SSA-1099 to verify their benefit income. But if they have lost their documentation and need proof of income, it’s easy to get a benefit verification letter at our website.

This letter is sometimes called a "budget letter," a "benefits letter," a "proof of income letter" or a "proof of award letter."

A benefit verification letter can be used to prove income or benefits if someone is applying for a loan or mortgage, needs housing assistance or other state or local benefits, or needs to prove retirement or disability status, Medicare health insurance coverage or age to a third party.

Someone can instantly obtain and print their benefit verification letter by taking a few minutes to create  an online my Social Security at

Frightening Scam that appears to be from the federal courts

Notice from the US District Court of Maryland:

Warning from the US District Court for Maryland

For those whose computer assistive devices cannot "read" pictures, the above relevant text is:

United States District Court for the District of Maryland


I am writing to alert you to a new scam potentially involving district courts. In this case, a fictitious arrest warrant on a criminal charge is sent to an individual, offering a chance to avoid arrest through the payment of a specific amount. While these scams are more prevalent in state and county courts, this particular scam has occurred in the Western District of New York in the last two weeks. 

Felicia C. Cannon
Clerk of Court

2014 GUIDE TO LEGAL SERVICES - Pro Bono Resource Center

The Pro Bono Resource Center presents the newly revised Guide to Legal Services in Maryland.  First published in 2001, the Guide was immediately embraced by the legal services community as a valuable tool and statewide resource in our combined efforts to promote equal access to justice throughout Maryland.  The 2014 edition has been updated and expanded to meet continuing needs, and is now available online.  The links below will take you to electronic versions of the Guide and its Branch Office Supplement, , which can be downloaded for your convenience.  The Guide is also available through the People’s Law Library at:  

We would like to recognize our sponsors who supported this project financially:  The Maryland State Bar Association’s Section of Delivery of Legal Services, the Bar Associations Insurance Trust Fund, and Kahn, Smith & Collins, P.A.  We are grateful for their support.  We would also like to thank the following organizations who serve as our regular funders; without them we could not continue to do the work we do:  Maryland Legal Services Corporation, and the Administrative Office of the Courts

2014 Guide to Legal Services 2014 Guide to Legal Services Branch Office Supplement
click here click here

MVLS Volunteer Appreciation Happy Hour

Thu, 11/21/2013 - 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Our volunteers are the fuel that runs the MVLS engine. You are the gravy to our mashed potatoes and the cranberry sauce to our turkey.  In this season of thanksgiving, we invite you to a happy hour as a small token of our appreciation. Your first drink is on MVLS and complimentary appetizers will be served.  Attorneys who are not currently MVLS volunteers, but want to learn more, are invited as well. 

Visit to RSVP or email Stephanie Austin at  Your RSVP is preferred but not required.

Location Name: 
313 N Charles Street
Stephanie Austin

New videos to help people represent themselves in court

The Maryland Access to Justice Commission released four new videos for the self-represented which can be viewed at the links below.  The videos were produced by the Office of Communications & Public Affairs.

        Tips for Your Day in Court:

        Service of Process:

        Finding Legal Help:

        Defending a Small Claim:

Find videos at the court website:

PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE - Commission on Child Custody Decision-Making

I am not sure what this is about, but seems a tad ominous to me.  Maybe we should make plans to be present at these meetings across the state?

I do believe the message in the attachment constitutes an "invitation" to comment.  But check with Shawn about that if you are a MD Legal Aid employee.

From: On Behalf Of
Sent: Wednesday, October 09, 2013 3:19 PM
Subject: PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE - Commission on Child Custody Decision-Making


Attached please see the PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE for the COMMISSION ON CHILD CUSTODY DECISION-MAKING public hearing dates.  Please post this on your public bulletin boards and distribute.


Commission On Child Custody Decision Making

Child Custody Decision Making Public Hearing Notice & Participation Ltr_10.05.13.pdf234.87 KB

Intro to Health Care webinar now available

Intro to Health Care Reform Webinar now available

Do you have questions about how the Affordable Care Act affects low-income Marylanders? How will the new Maryland Health Connection provide opportunities for legal services clients to access high-quality, affordable health care? For a quick primer on Medicaid expansion, Maryland Health Connection, and how low-income Marylanders can get help applying for health care, check out Legal Aid’s webinar: Introduction to Health Care Reform. It's less than 1/2 hour, and designed for especially for legal services providers, social services agencies and others serving low-income Marylanders.

10 Things Assisted Living Homes Won't Tell You

Good things to know, be sure to ask questions about these topics when searching for a good facility.

5 Obamacare Scams And How To Avoid Them

Share this wherever you can, you know that when there is an opportunity like this, our clients may suffer.

health care resources for uninsured Marylanders

Maryland Health Connection opened its doors this week, and our clients have a new opportunity to access quality, affordable health insurance.  I want to make sure all legal service providers and pro bono attorneys have the resources you need to help your clients access the health care they need.   



Maryland Health Connection has a network of consumer assistance organizations that they call Connectors to offer health insurance assistance in Maryland. They are located in communities around the state and are staffed by navigators and assisters who are certified to help Marylanders enroll in Medicaid or a qualified health plan. By going to a local Connector organization, clients can get one-on-one, in person help to find and select health coverage.  You can find the list of each Connector organization across the state, the map showing what counties they cover, and the hours and locations here.


Clients can also go directly to Maryland Health Connection through the website, and call the Consumer Support Center at 1-855-642-8572.  The Consumer Support Center can handle 200 languages and has services for the deaf and hard of hearing at 1-855-642-8573.


Fact Sheets for Clients

Maryland Health Connection includes a lot of fact sheets for clients.  These documents include:

·         Maryland Health Connection Overview (in English and Spanish)

·         Medicaid Fact Sheets (in English and Spanish)

·         Income Eligibility Chart (in English and Spanish)

·         Health Coverage Glossary (in English and Spanish)


There’s more – check out everything herePlease print out any of these that seem particularly helpful and put them out in your waiting room, distribute them during outreach sessions, and provide them to your clients.

Thanks - and let me know how it goes.  (Sorry for the duplicate postings - I want to make sure this information gets to everyone!)

Earn $80 by participaing in a study about voting accessibility

**Participants Needed for Accessibility and Usability Evaluations of Voting Systems**

Maryland will be moving to a new voting system by 2016. The State Board of Elections has contracted with the University of Baltimore (UB) to conduct a study of potential voting systems to ensure that the system chosen is fully accessible to voters with disabilties.

UB is looking for testers with a range of disabilities for the study, which will take place in Baltimore at UB. The study pays $80 per hour. Testers must be over 18 and eligible to vote.

Please encourage individuals to contact UB to be considered to be a tester. Potential testers can reach UB by email at or 410-837-1974.

A letter from MDLC and a flier announcing the study are attached.

Voting accessibility and usability study.pdf222.33 KB

Training Opportunities in Family Law

Video Replay Schedule
2013 Family Practice Update
Tuesday, October 1, 2013 – Rockville, MD and October 3, 2013 – Baltimore, MD
The Divorce Trial – Inside and Out
(presented live on May 22, 2013)
2013 Family Practice Update
(presented live on August 23, 2013)
The below free and reduced fee training programs are available to attorneys who make a pro bono commitment in the topical area. These and other courses are also available for on-line viewing. For more information and to register, visit or contact Kiah Pierre at the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland at (410) 837-9379; (800) 396-1274, ext. 3046.
Visit the website to join the PBRC E-Bulletin and receive information about pro bono opportunities
The Edge: Getting Ahead in Family Law
October 18, 2013 | 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
Co-sponsored by Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service and Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland
Wor-Wic Community College, 32000 Campus Drive, Salisbury, MD 21804
PBRC also offers free and reduced fee on-line trainings that can be viewed at a time and place convenient for attorneys. A wide variety of topics are covered including foreclosure prevention, consumer bankruptcy, consumer protection, criminal records expungement, veterans’ disability benefits, immigration, Medicaid, special education and nonprofit law.
Family Law: Avoiding Malpractice Pt. 1 of 2
Thursday, September 26, 2013 | 5:00 pm
County Courts Building, Towson, MD
Register Online
Family Law Dinner: Same Sex Custody & Adoption Issues
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 | 6:00 pm
Hayfields Country Club, Cockeysville, MD
Family Law Law: Avoiding Malpractice Pt. 2 of 2
Wednesday, October 30, 2013 | 5:00 pm
Grand Jury Room, County Courts Building, Towson, MD
Register Online
AAML Annual Symposium of Family Law
November 11, 2013 | 8:30 am
Turf Valley Resort
Point of Contact: Howard B. Soypher, 301-951-9333

People's Law Library Pro Bono Write-In

Thu, 10/24/2013 - 8:30am - 12:00pm

Free Training Opportunity for Pro Bono Attorneys:  People’S Law Library PRO BONO Write-In

Co-sponsored by Maryland People's Law Library, Maryland State Law Library, Anne Arundel County Bar Association/Anne Arundel County Public Law Library, and Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland

Thursday, October 24, 2013
8:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Maryland State Law Library
361 Rowe Boulevard
Annapolis, MD 21401

The People’s Law Library (PLL) needs your help to ensure that its online legal information for Marylanders in need is up-to-date and accurate!  PLL is a legal information and self-help website ( maintained by the Maryland State Law Library. The purpose of PLL is to provide self-represented litigants in Maryland state courts information about the law, including summaries, links to primary and secondary legal sources, and referrals for legal services.

Volunteer attorneys will:

  • Learn to use the State Law Library’s resources to perform legal research (bring your laptop)
  • Receive an overview of PLL and instruction on writing for self-represented litigants
  • Volunteer, either in small groups or independently, by researching, writing, and editing website content for PLL
  • Review and edit (if needed) one additional page of the website by November 30, 2013

To register, visit and download a registration form. 

Questions?  Contact Kiah Pierre at 443-703-3046 or

Location Name: 
Maryland State Law Library
361 Rowe Boulevard
Kiah Pierre
Maryland People's Law Library, Maryland State Law Library, Anne Arundel County Bar Association/Anne Arundel County Public Law Library, and Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland
10.24.13 PLL Write-In.pdf347.09 KB
PBWIReg.pdf296.7 KB

2nd Annual PRO BONO CONNECTION - A Day of Free Trainings, Pro Bono Fair and Reception for Maryland Attorneys and Law Students

Wed, 10/23/2013 - 2:00pm - 7:00pm

Pro Bono Connection: A Day of Free Trainings, Pro Bono Fair and Reception for Maryland Attorneys and Law Students

Co-Sponsored by University of Baltimore School of Law, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, Maryland State Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, and Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland 


When:             Wednesday, October 23, 2012

 Where:            University of Baltimore School of Law

1401 N. Charles Street

Baltimore, MD 21201


Trainings: 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Open to law students and Maryland attorneys in exchange for a volunteer commitment. 


Session A:              Defending Debt Buyer Lawsuits in State Court  

Faculty:                  Peter Holland, Esq.

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law


  • Introduction to the debt buyer industry
  • Common claims & defenses
  • Standards of evidence & large v. small claims
  • Sample pleadings & motions


Session B:               Special Topics in LGBT Law

Faculty:                   Aaron Merki, Esq. – FreeState Legal Project

Jessie Weber, Esq. – Brown, Goldstein & Levy

Anne Blackfield, Esq. – FreeState Legal Project


  • LGBT 101: Working with LGBT clients
  • The state of LGBT discrimination protections in MD
  • Special topics in transgender law


Pro Bono Fair & Reception: 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM

  • Visit tables staffed by Maryland legal services providers!
  • Learn about available pro bono opportunities!
  • Accept pro bono cases on-site!
  • Visit mentoring table with experienced attorneys!
  • Lite fare, beer and wine!


For more information and to register, visit (look for the link under “Highlights & Upcoming Events”).


Questions?  Contact Kiah Pierre of Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland at 443-837-9379 ext. 3046 or

Location Name: 
University of Baltimore School of Law
1401 N. Charles Street
Kiah Pierre
niversity of Baltimore School of Law, University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, Maryland State Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, and Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland
PBCFlyer13.pdf243.14 KB
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