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PBRC hosts annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference

Pro Bono Resource Center staff members pose for a photo at the Baltimore Convention Center during the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. Pictured are, from left, Kiah Pierre, trainings and records manager; Johanna Eisenberger; Elizabeth Grove, executive assistant; Monica Larsen, MD Immigrant Legal Assistance Project paralegal; Ki’Andre Rist, project coordinator; Margaret Henn, director of the Home Preservation Project; Sadaf Shafique; Caitlin Goldblatt, project coordinator; Linzey Powers, director of development; Cate Hulme, MD Immigrant Legal Assistance Project manager; Sydney Dunning, director of the Courtroom Advocacy Project; Dave Pantzer, director of education, outreach and technology; Annie Speedie, director of programming; Shila Mashhadishafie, chair of the Partners for Justice Planning Committee; Sharon E. Goldsmith, PBRC executive director; and Shelly Jackson, staff attorney. (Photo by Stephanie Joseph)

Pro Bono Resource Center staff members pose for a photo at the Baltimore Convention Center during the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. Pictured are, from left, Kiah Pierre, trainings and records manager; Johanna Eisenberger; Elizabeth Grove, executive assistant; Monica Larsen, MD Immigrant Legal Assistance Project paralegal; Ki’Andre Rist, project coordinator; Margaret Henn, director of the Home Preservation Project; Sadaf Shafique; Caitlin Goldblatt, project coordinator; Linzey Powers, director of development; Cate Hulme, MD Immigrant Legal Assistance Project manager; Sydney Dunning, director of the Courtroom Advocacy Project; Dave Pantzer, director of education, outreach and technology; Annie Speedie, director of programming; Shila Mashhadishafie, chair of the Partners for Justice Planning Committee; Sharon E. Goldsmith, PBRC executive director; and Shelly Jackson, staff attorney. (Photo by Stephanie Joseph)

David Rodwin, an attorney with the Public Justice Center, and Cheryl-Lyn Bentley, an associate lawyer with Outten & Golden, speak on “All is not lost! Recovering unpaid wages for low-wage workers in Maryland,” part of the “Justice in the Courtroom” track at the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. (Photo by Elizabeth Grove, PBRC)

David Rodwin, an attorney with the Public Justice Center, and Cheryl-Lyn Bentley, an associate lawyer with Outten & Golden, speak on “All is not lost! Recovering unpaid wages for low-wage workers in Maryland,” part of the “Justice in the Courtroom” track at the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. (Photo by Elizabeth Grove, PBRC)

From left, Ashley DeVaughn, youth justice policy senior associate with Advocates for Children & Youth; Iman Freeman, co-founder of Baltimore Action Legal Team; Ashley Black, an attorney with the Public Justice Center; and Debra Gardner, legal director of the Public Justice Center, speak on “Nothing About Us Without Us: The Community as a Resource for Effective Advocacy,” part of the “Building a Better Nonprofit” track at the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. (Photo by Elizabeth Grove, PBRC)

From left, Ashley DeVaughn, youth justice policy senior associate with Advocates for Children & Youth; Iman Freeman, co-founder of Baltimore Action Legal Team; Ashley Black, an attorney with the Public Justice Center; and Debra Gardner, legal director of the Public Justice Center, speak on “Nothing About Us Without Us: The Community as a Resource for Effective Advocacy,” part of the “Building a Better Nonprofit” track at the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. (Photo by Elizabeth Grove, PBRC)

Del. Erek Barron, D-Prince George’s, left, and Maryland Assistant Attorney General Chris Madaio speak on “Holding the Line: Protecting Maryland Consumers When Federal Oversight Fails,” part of the “Consumer Concerns” track at the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. (Photo by Elizabeth Grove, PBRC)

Del. Erek Barron, D-Prince George’s, left, and Maryland Assistant Attorney General Chris Madaio speak on “Holding the Line: Protecting Maryland Consumers When Federal Oversight Fails,” part of the “Consumer Concerns” track at the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. (Photo by Elizabeth Grove, PBRC)

Pro Bono Resource Center client and artist Raphael Rodriguez speaks to the crowd at the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. Rodriguez told his own story of immigrating to the United States alone as a teenager and about the importance of both lawyers and supportive communities to immigrant children. (Photo by Coos Hamburger)

Artist Raphael Rodriguez speaks to the crowd at the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. Rodriguez told his own story of immigrating to the United States alone as a teenager and about the importance of both lawyers and supportive communities to immigrant children. (Photo by Coos Hamburger)

Sharon E. Goldsmith, left, executive director of the Pro Bono Resource Center, gets a photo with keynote speaker Gustavo Torres, the executive director of CASA de Maryland. (Photo by Coos Hamburger)

Sharon E. Goldsmith, left, executive director of the Pro Bono Resource Center, gets a photo with keynote speaker Gustavo Torres, the executive director of CASA de Maryland. (Photo by Coos Hamburger)

Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA de Maryland, delivers the keynote address at the Baltimore Convention Center during the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. (Photo by Coos Hamburger)

Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA de Maryland, delivers the keynote address at the Baltimore Convention Center during the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. (Photo by Coos Hamburger)

More than 245 guests enjoy lunch at the Baltimore Convention Center during the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. (Photo by Elizabeth Grove, PBRC)

More than 245 guests enjoy lunch at the Baltimore Convention Center during the annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. (Photo by Elizabeth Grove, PBRC)

An attentive audience listens to “Smartphone Evidence – Preserving, Introducing … and maybe Avoiding!,” part of the “Justice in the Courtroom” track. (Photo by Elizabeth Grove, PBRC)

An attentive audience listens to “Smartphone Evidence – Preserving, Introducing … and maybe Avoiding!,” part of the “Justice in the Courtroom” track. (Photo by Elizabeth Grove, PBRC)

From left, Amy Petkovsek, Dmitri Digbeu, Ashley Cheatham and another guest attended annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. (Photo by Elizabeth Grove, PBRC)

From left, Amy Petkovsek, Dmitri Digbeu, Ashley Cheatham and another guest attended annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference. (Photo by Elizabeth Grove, PBRC)

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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