Mid-Shore Pro Bono, Inc.
Providing Access to Justice Throughout the Mid-Shore
8 South West Street
Easton, Maryland 21601
For Immediate Release
Cyndy Carrington Miller, Public Relations Consultant
410-770-9410, 443-521-2330 (cell)
March 27, 2015
Eastern Shore Lawyers Again Lead State In Pro Bono Service
An annual report prepared for the Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts once again shows Eastern Shore attorneys leading the state in the provision of pro bono legal services to their communities. The “Current Status of Pro Bono Service Among Maryland Lawyers” was compiled by ANASYS, Inc., and is based on 2013 data.
Maryland courts established a goal of 50 hours or more of pro bono service each year for full-time attorneys, with an emphasis on assistance to people of limited means. Lawyers certified to practice in the state are required to report annually on their pro bono activities. For reporting purposes, the state is divided into Eastern, Western, Southern, Central and Capital regions.
Sandy Brown, Executive Director of Mid-Shore Pro Bono, said her organization’s work on behalf of the Eastern Shore’s most vulnerable residents could not be accomplished without local attorneys’ generosity in the donation of their time and services.
“Last year, Mid-Shore Pro Bono provided more than $1.4 million worth of legal services with less than half that in funding,” she noted. “Our extraordinary attorneys enable us to use our donation and grant dollars most efficiently and help more people than we ever could otherwise.”
The Eastern Region leads Maryland with 76.1 percent of full-time lawyers providing at least some pro bono services. Rural areas show more pro bono participation than the more populous Central and Capital regions. Queen Anne’s County again has the highest attorney pro bono rate at 83.7 percent, with Dorchester County coming in second statewide at 83.3 percent.
The other three counties in Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s service area all were among the top twelve counties in participation, with Talbot at 80.7 percent, Kent at 76.7 percent and Caroline at 70.6 percent, compared to only 55.7 percent statewide.
When it comes to meeting the 50-hours-a-year goal, Eastern Region attorneys again shine, with 35.7 percent of the region’s full-time lawyers offering at least 50 hours of pro bono service in 2013, compared to the runner-up Western Region’s 33.6 percent and 20.8 percent for the state as a whole.
Somerset County attorneys led Maryland with 46.2 percent meeting the 50-hour goal. Of Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s five counties, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester and Kent ranked second, fourth, fifth, sixth and fourteenth, respectively.
Overall, lawyers certified to practice in the state of Maryland, including those of the Eastern Region, reported slightly lower rates of pro bono activities from the previous year.
With regard to the type of pro bono services provided, the report showed more than 60 percent of the Eastern Region’s attorneys offered assistance to individuals of limited means in 2013.
While Mid-Shore Pro Bono also offers some specialized services without regard to the client’s income, its primary mission is to provide access to free or reduced-fee civil legal services to low-income individuals, connecting those in need of assistance with attorneys willing to provide pro bono time.
The report demonstrated the success of the organization’s efforts. Of the hours Eastern Region lawyers provided to individuals of limited means, almost 30 percent was on cases that came from a pro bono or legal services organization such as Mid-Shore Pro Bono, the highest percentage in the state.
The report placed special emphasis on the Foreclosure Prevention Pro Bono Project (FPPB), a program coordinated by the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland to help homeowners who need legal counsel in the foreclosure process.
It showed the Eastern Region having the second highest percentage of lawyers providing FPPB assistance, at 6.8 percent, and Caroline County ranking third statewide, at 11.1 percent. Attorneys provide assistance to homeowners in distress through Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s Foreclosure Clinic and Foreclosure Prevention Workshops.
“Year after year, Eastern Shore attorneys lead the state in providing pro bono services,” said Brown. “I am so proud of them and wish I didn’t have to keep asking for more. But there is a real need for our services in these rural communities with their limited resources, and many of our residents are so vulnerable. With both greater participation from local attorneys and increased financial support from the community as a whole, we could be making a difference in the lives of many more people.”
The full report offers additional information and refinement of the data by size of firm, type of law practiced and other criteria.
It may be found online at www.courts.state.md.us/probono/pdfs/probonoreport2013.pdf.
For more information or to make a donation, call Mid-Shore Pro Bono at 410-690-8128 or visit www.midshoreprobono.org.