Mid-Shore Pro Bono recently celebrated the organization’s relocation from Centreville to Easton with a Talbot County Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting and open house at its new location on Dover Street.
About 30 people attended, including Easton Mayor Robert C. Willey and members of the legal and business communities. Mid-Shore Pro Bono board members present included Board President Lance Richardson, Vice President Leigh Melton, Judge Karen Jensen, Judge Thomas Ross, Jamie Adkins, Joann Asparagus, Karen Ketterman and Christopher Robinson, Esq.
The legal firms of Miles & Stockbridge, PC; Ewing, Dietz, Fountain & Kehoe, PA; and Stevens, Phillips & McCann, LLC, sponsored the event.
Sandy Brown, Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s Executive Director, noted that the new site helps the nonprofit agency better serve the community. The Dover Street office is more visible than its previous location, allowing on-site service to clients who may need assistance on civil matters.
Mid-Shore Pro Bono provides free and reduced-cost legal services to low-income individuals. It serves clients in Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Caroline and Dorchester counties.
Applicants who meet its income and asset guidelines are matched with local attorneys who donate their services. Civil cases that the organization handles range from consumer debt and small claims to divorce and child custody. A recent collaboration with local mediation centers also allows it to provide an alternative to the court system for appropriate clients.
Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s increased visibility, added to growing economic stress in the low-income community, has resulted in a greater demand for the agency’s services. “We are seeing a huge increase in volume since our relocation,” said Brown. Her caseload has grown by 265 percent in the past six months. Brown noted a larger number of foreclosure cases in the current economic climate.
The open house provided an opportunity for guests to get acquainted with the organization and the services it offers, not only to the low-income community, but also to the legal community.
Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct encourage full-time practicing attorneys to strive to provide fifty hours of pro bono service each year. By acting as a referral service, Mid-Shore Pro Bono enables attorneys to connect with the clients who need their help. It is the first regional pro bono referral agency in Maryland, and the only one located on the Eastern Shore.
With the agency funded by grants and donations, Brown welcomed the new office’s increased exposure both for the ability to reach more clients and to promote support for its services. “We need to raise awareness of our program, and need funding first and foremost,” she said. “Then we need volunteer attorneys. We have plenty of clients.”
For more information or to make a donation, call Mid-Shore Pro Bono at 410-690-4890 or visit www.midshoreprobono.org.