December 2017 – E. Hutchinson Robbins

As a volunteer with MVLS, E. Hutchinson Robbins, “Hutch,” has provided endless support for MVLS and has taken 97 cases since joining us in 2001. Among those 97, Hutch has taken collections, torts, name change, expungement, and landlord/tenant dispute MVLS cases. When he isn’t volunteering by representing MVLS clients or mentoring other attorneys, Hutch also dedicates his time to MVLS as the Vice President of the MVLS Board of Directors. MVLS is particularly grateful for Hutch’s willingness to help staff attorneys to write an Amicus Curiae brief for a tax sale case to the Court of Special Appeals. You can learn more about Hutch and why he chooses to dedicate his time to MVLS’ pro bono program below.

  1. Why do you choose to volunteer with MVLS?

I choose to volunteer with MVLS because I believe that justice should not depend on economic condition. Justice in our legal system often depends on advocacy, the engine of the adversarial system. Advocacy is almost always better with counsel than without, and too often those without the means to afford better advocacy are denied justice. That is anathema to a just society.

2. Do you have any stand out stories?

I once represented a woman who was born in a home in Baltimore City and had no birth certificate or government identification. In the eyes of the government, she didn’t exist. We ended up having to sue the State (who did not actively oppose our claims) and were able to get her a birth certificate and then an ID, which allowed her access to so many of the basic civil rights and institutions we take for granted.

3. What is your favorite part of volunteering with MVLS?

My favorite part of volunteering with MVLS is meeting my clients for the first time, and seeing the palpable relief on their faces when they understand that they are not alone in facing their legal challenges.

4. Why should other attorneys do pro bono?

Other attorneys should take pro bono cases if they feel called to do so. There are so many ways lawyers can work for the common good, and taking pro bono cases is only one way. But, I am admittedly biased. Taking a pro bono case allows a lawyer to make a meaningful and immediate impact in someone’s life, which often has a ripple effect of meaningful impacts to others connected to the client. And, it humanizes our byzantine legal system for someone who doesn’t live in it like we do, which has the effect of making justice seem less random, unattainable or unfair. So, take a case. I guarantee that the good you do will be greater than you can see.

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