More than 245 lawyers, pro bono managers, judges and non-profit representatives gathered March 23 at the Baltimore Convention Center to discuss significant policies and issues facing low-income Marylanders at the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland’s 21st annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference.
The daylong conference featured 18 comprehensive panel discussions, arranged in six topical tracks. Sessions included “Confronting the Discriminatory Impact of Nuisance and Crime-Free Ordinances” (part of the “Criminal Law: Practice & Policy” track); “Nothing About Us Without Us: The Community as a Resource for Effective Advocacy” (part of the “Building a Better Nonprofit” track); and “Holding the Line: Protecting Maryland Consumers When Federal Oversight Fails” (part of the “Consumer Concerns” track).
Both the morning plenary and afternoon luncheon speakers offered inspiring and informative remarks. Judge Karen M. Jensen of the Court of Appeals’ Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Service stated that in the most recent year for which reported statistics are available, Maryland lawyers donated nearly 1.2 million hours of pro bono service.
Conference keynote speaker Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA de Maryland, delivered a stirring address, lamenting the separation of 5,000 immigrant children from their families in the past two years and decrying the deaths of six of the children in U.S. custody in the past eight months. Artist Raphael Rodriguez told his own story of immigrating to the United States alone as a teenager and spoke about the importance of both lawyers and supportive communities to immigrant children.
PBRC is the pro bono arm of the Maryland State Bar Association, and is primarily funded by the Administrative Office of the Courts and Maryland Legal Services Corporation. Conference sponsors included the Maryland Bar Foundation, Maryland Legal Services Corporation, Brown, Goldstein and Levy, Gordon Feinblatt, Seyfarth Shaw and The Daily Record.
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