Robert D. Anbinder
Baltimore City Law Department
When it comes to closing the justice gap, as Robert Anbinder, Chief Solicitor in the Litigation Division of the Baltimore City Law Department puts it, a pro bono attorney can make a difference in a legal case just by being present.
“If we can help provide services to people who might otherwise just get run over by the legal system, I think we have an obligation to do it,” Anbinder said. He helped create the city law department’s “user friendly” pro bono policy and advocates for other government agencies to adopt them as well. He’s also a member of the Court of Appeals Standing Committee on Pro Bono, and a volunteer and mentor for the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service.
“I also try to encourage others to take on pro bono,” Anbinder said.
Aside from furnishing a vital service, he said pro bono work makes attorneys better by improving their commitment to their professional teams and the broader community. It can also allow them to follow their interests in different legal areas they wouldn’t normally follow at their day jobs; public defense attorneys, for instance, can try their hand as a plaintiff’s lawyer.
“You get to see the law from the other side, that just makes all of us better,” he said.
Anbinder is a former television and radio journalist; he worked for the Associated Press Radio Network in Washington D.C. and for the investigative unit of WJZ-TV before deciding to switch to a legal career that offered a chance for better security. He attended law school at night and graduated in 1992.
“I believe that lawyers need not only take care of themselves and their families but they also have an obligation to try to give back to make the world a bit better,” he said.
Later in his legal career, Anbinder helped write and edit the “Journalists’ Guide to Maryland’s Legal system,” which is located on the Maryland Judiciary website and elsewhere on the web. He’s also served for a variety of associations, including the Attorney Grievance Commission, the Baltimore Courthouse and Law Museum Foundation and the Chizuk Amuno Congregation synagogue in Pikesville.
In 2015, Anbinder became the president of the Bar Association of Baltimore City, a career highlight, he said. He’s expanded his dogged efforts to promote pro bono work by creating a new weekly email newsletter that includes a “Pro Bono Link of the Week,” which allows organizations to recruit from the association’s membership. A dedicated government lawyer, Anbinder said he’s still always looking for new ways to serve the community that inspires him.
“I am looking for other opportunities to give back after the bar presidency,” he said. “At 59, I still have time to do that.”