Maryland Bar Foundation
The Maryland Bar Foundation, Inc. (The “Foundation”) was created by the Maryland State Bar Association (the “MSBA”) in 1965 as its philanthropic arm. The Foundation has more than 1000 Fellows, selected as a reflection of their dedication to excellence in the practice of law and their commitment to community involvement. The Foundation, over the years of its existence, has been committed to a number of significant purposes, including fostering and maintaining the integrity and diversity within the legal profession, promoting equal access to justice for all and enhancing the public’s understanding and appreciation for the Rule of Law. Each year, the Foundation recognizes excellence in the legal profession and makes awards to a select group of lawyers and judges who have distinguished themselves in some special way through public or pro bono service, professionalism in the representation of persons and causes for the public good. In addition, The Foundation donates tens of thousands of dollars each year to non-profit organizations in need of financial support for important reasons, including representing those without means, educating lawyers to enable them to assume representation of those in need or other legally related philanthropic purposes. Our grants support many of Maryland’s most vulnerable communities, and facilitate work that positively impacts and changes lives.
As examples of grant awards over the past several years about which we are very proud, The Foundation has served as the lead sponsor for the Maryland Pro Bono Resource Center that trains lawyers who volunteer and commit themselves to the representation on a pro bono basis of people facing significant potential life changing legal challenges who cannot afford the service of counsel. As the pro bono arm of the MSBA, PBRC, over a period of months, teaches a curriculum to these volunteer lawyers and also provides mentoring to ensure the newly minted pro bono lawyers have “their sea legs” and feel comfortable with the matters they are undertaking. The Foundation will be the presenting sponsor at the PBRC’s Annual Partners for Justice Conference in May 2021.
A second example about which The Foundation is very proud is its support for and collaboration with the self-help center in one of our Circuit Courts and the local Community College and its Foundation to establish and implement a project that is affectionately referred to as the “Purple Book Project”. The purple book refers to a notebook given to a litigant, typically unrepresented in a life changing domestic matter, which the litigant can then use, under the watchful direction of the lawyers in the self-help center and legal assistant trainees from the Community College, to themselves build the necessary documentation to present their case to the Court. The project is tremendously empowering for the litigants who are able to help themselves and saves an enormous amount of lawyer time for pro bono or low bono lawyers who will ultimately assist the litigants in the actual court proceedings. The legal assistant students get the opportunity first hand to work with the self–help lawyers to assist the litigants get started on their mission. The Community College also has provided assistance by helping in the development of video trainings in both English and Spanish to guide the litigants as they proceed. This has become a model for similar efforts in other parts of the State.