United Fund Helps Mid-Shore Pro Bono Enhance Legal Services

Mid-Shore Pro Bono is enhancing its program of legal assistance to low-income individuals thanks to an allocation from the United Fund of Talbot County’s 2009-2010 campaign. As a United Fund member agency, it will receive $4,500 to expand its Legal Services Clinic, providing Talbot County residents with additional access to free legal advice.

Sandy Brown, Executive Director of Mid-Shore Pro Bono, is excited about the opportunity to partner with the United Fund. “We are one of the new kids on the block in the neighborhood of Talbot County nonprofits,” she explained. While still serving a five-county mid-shore area, the four-year-old agency moved its offices last year from an inconspicuous location in Centreville to a more visible site on Dover Street in Easton.

“Coming to Talbot County has revitalized us,” said Brown. “Working with the United Fund brings welcome validation to our efforts within the community.”

Those efforts include working with qualifying individuals seeking legal assistance in civil matters and matching them with private attorneys who donate their time to handle the cases. By expanding this program into a Legal Services Clinic, attorneys are also able to volunteer on site. Clients may call or make an appointment to come in and receive guidance in all areas of civil law.

Brown categorized the majority of cases that Mid-Shore Pro Bono handles in Talbot County as domestic, housing or estate matters. “The largest caseload we have is in the divorce custody area,” she said. “Foreclosure cases are growing rapidly in this economy, and we also deal with a lot of wills and powers of attorney.”

The agency’s new site is not only more accessible to Talbot County residents, but also provides handy volunteer opportunities for attorneys, convenient to the county courthouse and many legal offices.

“It is so easy for lawyers to get their pro bono hours here,” Brown said, referring to state reporting requirements for attorneys’ volunteer service. With a caseload expanding at a rate of thirty to forty new clients each month, there is a growing need for more volunteers.

While the attorneys are on hand for consultations, Brown notes that many people can handle their civil matters by themselves once they receive some guidance and information. The agency also collaborates with other organizations in Talbot County, such as the Family Law Clinics, Habitat for Humanity and Mid Shore Community Mediation Center, to make sure individuals are finding the appropriate answers to resolve their particular issues.

“We work hard to make sure people don’t fall through the cracks,” said Brown.

“Acceptance as a United Fund of Talbot County agency feels like a seal of approval on our efforts.”

For more information, call Mid-Shore Pro Bono at 410-690-4890 or visit www.midshoreprobono.org.