Gifts are out. Donations are in.
That was the message the Maryland State Bar Association gave its members as they arrived at the registration desk for the organization’s annual convention in Ocean City last week.
Instead of being welcomed with gifts — tote bags, mugs, beach mats — from their own professional organization, about 700 members of the state’s legal community were greeted with the knowledge that $5,000 usually spent on gifts for them was being donated instead to the Maryland Legal Services Corp. The MLSC provides funding for more than two dozen groups offering civil legal assistance to low-income Marylanders.
The faltering economy has been especially hard on the MLSC, which has seen its largest revenue source — interest on lawyer trust accounts — shrink drastically as interest rates have remained at historically low levels.
Let’s see now — legal services for the poor or tchotchkes for lawyers. Good call, MSBA.