About Us

About MVLS

Justice for All

Learn more about our mission, people, programs, and impact.

Two MVLS clients smiling holding folder outside of MVLS clinic

Mission & Vision

Mission Statement: MVLS removes barriers to justice through free civil legal help, community engagement, and advocacy for equitable laws.

Vision Statement: Our vision is for a fair legal system that is free of injustice and equitably serves underrepresented Marylanders.

Four Decades of Providing Legal Services

Over 100,000 Marylanders Helped Since 1981

MVLS staff and volunteer lawyers, certified public accountants, and enrolled agents provide free civil legal representation to thousands of Maryland families every year who can’t afford to hire an attorney in critical civil legal cases.

MVLS leverages professional volunteers to provide pro bono representation across Maryland in civil cases such as family, housing, consumer, expungements, tax controversy and estate matters. We strive to expand legal services through our partnerships and collaborations with community partners and change laws and policies that disproportionately harm individuals experiencing financial hardship.

View MVLS 40 Year Timeline

40 Years of MVLS

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In the United States, only people charged with a criminal offense have a constitutional right to a lawyer.

There are no free public defenders for people who cannot afford a private attorney. This in spite of the fact that civil law governs some of our most basic human needs. And while the civil justice system touches all of us, it has an outsized role in the lives of people who have a low income, older adults, veterans, people with disabilities, and historically disinvested communities of color.

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Free legal help

The most critical factor to a successful outcome is having an attorney. People are nearly 3X as likely to succeed with representation vs. without. And in a recent legal aid study, more than half of clients who received civil legal help attributed increased stability more than a decade later to the assistance they received.

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Advocating for racial equality, equity, and fairness in the civil legal system.

We see first-hand that the legal system reinforces inequities and has an outsized negative impact on low income and Black and Brown communities. Our experience standing with clients in a courtroom translates into a responsibility to inform local and state lawmakers and the public discourse. MVLS has recently conducted advocacy around issues including ending tax sale, ensuring access to water, allowing people to seek criminal record expungement, and ensuring that Black legacy homeowners can transfer their homes to the next generation.

Annual Report Slide

Read our latest annual report to learn about the impact that donors, volunteers, community partners, and clients have in the shared fight for justice for all.

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Core Values

Legal scales and gavel


MVLS strives for a collaborative environment where all staff members, volunteers, clients, and community partners are encouraged to share ideas that further the organization’s work and where staff embrace contributing to initiatives outside their department or day to day duties. 

Passion for Mission

MVLS values a dedication to our mission of providing free civil legal help, developing and supporting community partnerships, and addressing inequity within the legal system. All actions, decisions, initiatives, and day to day activities are guided by this mission. 

Commitment to Eliminating Systemic Barriers to Justice Based on Race and Economic Disparities

MVLS will work to challenge the racist structures and barriers within the civil legal system that lead to inequitable outcomes for Black Marylanders and other communities of color.  We will also continue to examine and challenge the structures within our own organization that negatively impact Black staff, job applicants, clients, volunteers, and community partners. We commit to supporting our internal Anti-Racism Committee and conducting an annual review of all internal policies as they relate to race equity. 

Commitment to Clients, Volunteers and Community Partners

MVLS has three main constituents: our clients, our volunteers, and our community partners. For our clients, we strive to provide the best possible legal representation and customer service, as well as challenge inequitable legal systems, so we can remove barriers to obtaining justice for all.  For our volunteers, we want MVLS to be a welcoming, accessible place, in which we provide support to make pro bono work approachable so that they may make a meaningful impact in their MVLS client’s lives as well as on the legal system.  For our community partners, we strive to be a trustworthy partner that listens to and our actions are informed by community input and follows through on our commitments. All actions and initiatives are guided by community identified needs. 


MVLS values staff initiative and proactive ideas. Each staff member, volunteer, client, and community partner bring a unique perspective to the organization and we encourage them to offer ideas to better serve our clients and support our mission. We are committed to being flexible and adapting so that we can continue to increase our impact in the community. 

Promise to our Donors

MVLS accepts the responsibility that comes with financial support from our donors, private foundations, government funding, and other supporters.  With all funds entrusted to us, we utilize each dollar to maximize help for Marylanders in need and removing barriers to justice.  We also seek to work in partnership with funders to identify ways we can invest together in disinvested communities. 

MVLS Staff

susan francis

Susan Francis

Executive Director
Kim Caspari

Kim Caspari

Adult Guardianship Program Attorney
Shiya Clark

Shyia Clark

Cannabis Expungement Legal Advocate
Maura Connell

Maura Connell

Legal Advocate

Alex Cordes

Development Associate
Cheryl Countess

Cheryl Countess

Human Trafficking Prevention Program Legal Advocate
Nevan Edwards Headshot

Nevan Edwards

Cannabis Expungement Legal Advocate
Janet Fedder

Janet Fedder

Managing Attorney, Adult Guardianship Program
Claire Fremuth Headshot

Claire Fremuth

Cannabis Expungement Prison Paralegal
Makeisha Gibson

Makeisha Gibson

Pro Bono Director

Sylvia Gorgon

Workforce Development Paralegal
Nancy Grimm Headshot

Nancy Grimm

Family Law Attorney
Novlette Haughton

Novlette Haughton

HAF Legal Advocate
John Hardt

John Hardt

LITC Director
Heather Heiman

Heather Heiman

Human Trafficking Prevention Project Manager
Margaret Henn

Margaret Henn

Deputy Director
Barae Hirsch

Barae Hirsch

West Baltimore Community Legal Advocate

Erin Holloway

Office Manager
Travis Jennings Headshot

Travis Jennings

Cannabis Expungement Legal Advocate
Steven Kappen Headshot

Steven Kappen

Tangled Title Staff Attorney

Sydney Logan

Senior Legal Advocate
Carolyn Malinowski

Carolyn Malinowski

Senior Attorney, Adult Guardianship Program
Morgan Murphy

Morgan Murphy

Tangled Title Paralegal
Aja' Headshot

Aja’ Mallory

Senior Consumer Staff Attorney
D'Khyra McFadden

D'Khyra McFadden

Intake & LITC Legal Advocate
Courtland Merkel Headshot

Courtland Merkel

Housing & Consumer Staff Attorney
Steven Messmer Headshot

Steven Messmer

Tangled Title Staff Attorney
Cara Headshot

Cara Schaefer

Development Manager
Emeline Smith Headshot

Emeline Smith

Cannabis Expungement Prison Legal Advocate
Aisha Snead

Aisha Snead

Advance Planning Project Coordinator
Gabrielle Spear Headshot

Gabrielle Spear

Legal Advocate
Yvonne Stone

Yvonne Stone

Adult Guardianship Paralegal
Theo Sullivan

Theo Sullivan

Workforce Development Paralegal
Chris Sweeney

Chris Sweeney

Workforce Development Project Manager
George Townsend

George Townsend

Workforce Development Attorney
Chandler Walters

Chandler Walters

Outreach & Communications Manager
Imani Walton

Imani Walton

Administrative Assistant
Ian Williams

Ian Williams

Consumer Protection Project Paralegal
Antonia Wilson

Antonia Wilson

Legal Advocate

Board of Directors

Alexandria K. Montanio

Gordon Feinblatt, LLC

David G. Sommer

Vice President
Gallagher Evelius & Jones, LLP

Penny J. Minna

DLA Piper

Jamie Tansey

Office of the Attorney General

Jhonell Campbell

T. Rowe Price

Richard L. Costella

Tydings Law

Susan DuMont

Miles & Stockbridge

Brian Gordon

Brown Advisory

La’Tika Howard

Womble Bond Dickinson US LLP

Lydia E. Lawless

Kramon & Graham, P.A.

Robin Leone

Saul Ewing LLP

Reba Letsa

Baker Donelson

Saad Malik

Gordon Feinblatt

Michelle McGeogh

Ballard Spahr

Marc E. Shach

Coon & Cole

Syma Ahmad Siddiqui

The Johns Hopkins University

Sheila J. Stewart

Amazon.com Services

Emily J. Wilson

Venable LLP

Information About the MVLS Board

MVLS Board Diversity Statement

Interested in becoming an MVLS Board Member?  
If you’d like to learn more, email Susan Francis, Executive Director

Advisory Board

Rignal W. Baldwin, Sr.

Baldwin | Seraina, LLC

Robert S. Brennen

Miles & Stockbridge

Michael A. Brown

Nelson Mullins

Alan C. Cason

McGuireWoods LLP

Lawrence D. Coppel

Gordon Feinblatt (retired)

Donna Glover

Baker Donelson

Michelle N. Lipkowitz


M. Natalie McSherry

Kramon & Graham, P.A.

Christopher R. Rahl

Gordon Feinblatt

E. Hutchinson Robbins

Telos Corporation


MVLS Featured on WYPR, “What will it take to bridge Maryland’s home appraisal gap?”

Senior Consumer Staff Attorney, Aja' Mallory was recently featured on WYPR's, “On the Record” with Sheilah Kast. Learn how the Read More

The Baltimore Banner
MVLS Featured in the Baltimore Banner, “Expungement eligibility change would remove obstacles to jobs, housing”

Read this commentary, published in the Baltimore Banner, and learn how potential changes in expungement legislation could reduce employment barriers Read More


A Taste for Pro Bono

See photos from our April 16 A Taste for Pro Bono benefit event!

View Event Details