2023 Annual Report: It’s All About Relationships

A Message from our Executive Director

I'm grateful for each of you who have joined our effort to provide free civil legal help, create strong community partnerships, and zealously advocate for equitable laws.

When reviewing this year’s annual report, what immediately jumps out to me is that MVLS was able to make major strides in removing barriers to justice because of the valuable relationships we have with our volunteers, community partners, clients, supporters and others.   

As you’ll read in the report, there are the numbers, which are always impressive, that are a clear indicator of the commitment made by our volunteers and staff to ensure that individuals have access to quality, free civil legal help.  Over 300 volunteers along with our staff attorneys, moved justice forward in over 3,200 cases. Each of those cases represents a person who s had better outcomes, who was better able to advocate for themselves and who had more empowerment in their own legal matter. Put simply, 3,256 lives were changed for the better because of the legal help we provided. 

While the numbers are impactful, it is when we dig a little bit deeper and share the stories of clients, community partners and supporters, that one can begin to really understand the strong and essential relationships that MVLS has been building for over 40 years. The task before us, ensuring a fair justice system, is daunting, and sometimes can be demoralizing when we are reminded of the long path to justice.  But the stories shared in our mission impact series illustrate the commitment MVLS has to developing and stewarding strong partnerships with our volunteers, clients, community partners and supporters, as we work collectively to ensure a just legal system. 

Click each image to read the full story behind each client, community partner, and donor featured here.

I got a call from Maryland Volunteer Lawyers. They had a match, an attorney for me. I will never forget that day. - Natushia Lewis-Smith, MVLS Client

MVLS Had an Attorney for MeI encourage you to watch this short video featuring MVLS’ client Natushia Lewis-Smith and her attorney, Curtis Cooper. While the legal outcome, of course, is of utmost importance, what I really love about sharing this story, is both the strong trust built between Ms. Lewis-Smith and Mr. Cooper, as well as the close connection between the volunteer and MVLS staff. That trust between Mr. Cooper and our team was built over many years, and continues to play a crucial role in the value he finds in serving as a MVLS volunteer. 

We See MVLS as the Gold StandardI had the tremendous pleasure of meeting Ms. Simon in 2017 and knew immediately that MVLS would be a better and more effective organization if we were able to partner with her. Thankfully, Ms. Simon saw the value of closing the gap to legal services in the communities she serves and trusted MVLS to begin building our partnership. And together, we began instilling legal knowledge and reducing barriers amongst older adults around Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Our partnership is built on trust, a shared vision and willingness to adapt to the needs of those experiencing financial and legal challenges. 

We set the gold standard annual report cover photo
Giving to MVLS was a small token of the huge impact on my sister and our family. - David Wade

A Token of Impact – After being engaged in our work at MVLS for over ten years, and being able to share in the incredible work being provided by our volunteers, and hearing so many inspiring stories of our clients, I’m rarely left speechless anymore by the generosity of spirit that comes to MVLS through so many connections.  But Lillian Hunter’s wish to leave MVLS a gift out of her modest estate to thank MVLS and her volunteer attorney did just that. We know our work changes lives for the better, to have such a tangible reminder of the meaningful role that we were able to have in Ms. Hunter’s life, it’s powerful and humbling. 

These three meaningful examples illustrate what MVLS is able to provide because of the relationships we have created with all of you. I’m grateful for each of you who have joined our effort to provide free civil legal help, create strong community partnerships, and zealously advocate for equitable laws – your names are listed in the volunteer and donor sections of the report as well!  As is reflected in this year’s annual report numbers, lists, and stories, we move forward our shared commitment to a fair justice system by working together. 

Thank you so much.