In 2005, five Mid-Shore counties, together with state pro
bono legal services groups, identified a need on the Eastern Shore for an
agency that could connect attorneys willing to donate their time with
low-income individuals in need of civil legal representation.
Mid-Shore Pro Bono was established out of that need, and
became the first regional pro bono referral agency in the state of Maryland. It
remains the only pro bono referral agency on the Eastern Shore.
The urgency of that need has been demonstrated by Mid-Shore
Pro Bono’s rapid growth and expansion over the past decade.
The agency took form in a low-visibility location in
Centreville, offering its core referral services to Kent, Queen Anne’s,
Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester counties. By 2009, the need for greater
accessibility for clients brought a move to a store-front location in Easton.
This enabled a significant expansion in Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s catalog of civil
legal services to the community.
That year, it began offering Legal Services Clinics at the
new Easton office. Demand was so great that Mid-Shore Pro Bono eventually began
holding clinics in each of its five service counties.
With the tumbling economy and precarious housing situation
for many residents, foreclosure and bankruptcy were problems frequently being
addressed by the clinics’ volunteer lawyers. In 2009, Mid-Shore Pro Bono joined
with the state’s Foreclosure Prevention Pro Bono Project to offer local
attorneys specialized training in this area of the law. It began holding
regular clinics and community workshops focused on foreclosure issues.
The following two years brought further expansion of
services for residents in financial trouble. In 2010, Mid-Shore Pro Bono began
working with the Debtor Assistance Project, and in 2011 partnered with the Pro
Bono Resource Center to offer attorneys training through the Consumer
Protection Project. Regular clinics focusing on debt and bankruptcy issues
began and eventually expanded to all five counties.
Family law continues to be Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s largest
program. In 2012, it began offering the Collaborative Practice Reduced Fee
Project as an alternative dispute resolution method to resolve domestic issues
outside of court. It also began offering additional assistance to women through
the Women’s Family Law Project.
That same year, its Community Conferencing Project began bringing
victims and offenders together to reach agreements through a powerful social
Within three years of moving to Easton, this expansion of
services, which brought with it greater staffing needs, required another move
to larger quarters. While Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s new offices on West Street in
Easton are convenient to the Talbot County Courthouse and area attorneys, as
well as to many of its local clients, it is offering more and more of its
programs off site in all five of its service counties.
In ten short years, Mid-Shore Pro Bono has grown from a
small referral agency, meeting a narrow community need, into
a significant community resource, answering multiple critical legal needs for
the Mid-Shore’s most at-risk residents.