Pro bono is the core of MVLS’ programming. We rely on a panel of volunteer attorneys, CPAs, and enrolled agents to work with low-income individuals throughout Maryland and provide them with critical civil legal services. Read on to hear five reasons to volunteer.
- The state of the legal system gives attorneys a professional responsibility.
As many of us know, the Maryland court system does not currently provide the equivalent of a public defender for civil cases. Therefore, individuals who are experiencing vulnerable legal challenges, but who do not have the income and assets to afford an attorney, are often forced to go unrepresented before these legal matters, which can lead to a worse outcome for the client. This continues a cycle of injustice where one’s wealth has a disproportionate effect on their ability to access a fair outcome. Until this system changes, it’s essential that pro bono attorneys step up to help break down these barriers to justice. This doesn’t have to mean arguing a case in a court room. If litigation isn’t for you, there are still opportunities to help stabilize communities through expungement, income tax controversy, or advance planning for low-income clients.
- Volunteering allows you to grow your skills and your practice.
MVLS offers several trainings each month in order for our volunteers to learn about a new area of law or brush up on their skills. We also match volunteers with mentors, if requested, to allow them to complete a case alongside a more experienced attorney. This is an excellent way to get your feet wet in a new area of law or to practice an old one. MVLS recognizes our volunteers through various avenues, as well as provides opportunities for networking. All of this increases your presence and allows your firm to gain exposure. As one volunteer shared, “volunteering is an avenue for finding mentors, meeting new people, and experiencing different things. You never know where your next job, experience, or referral is going to come from.”
- MVLS volunteers become part of a community.
Many MVLS staff and volunteers are motivated by a desire to help others and make access to justice a reality for all people. Becoming an MVLS volunteer means you are part of a community of like-minded professionals. Not only can that strengthen your network, but it’s an opportunity to gain inspiration from those around you, all while giving back to others through civil legal services.
- We make pro bono feel supportive and easy.
MVLS stands by our volunteer attorneys every step of the way. We provide our volunteers with first-tier malpractice insurance and our paralegals and staff attorneys can assist with everything from client communication to the details of the case itself. Volunteers are invited to pick the type of case and commitment that works best for them through our Pro Bono Portal. This provides real time updates on cases that are available by preferred county and case type. All attorneys in Maryland are required to report their completed pro bono hours to the courts, with a goal of 50 hours each year. MVLS is here to help you meet that goal!
- Volunteering can make you happier, healthier, and more satisfied in life.
A recent study from UnitedHealth Group showed that “94 percent of people who volunteered in the last twelve months said that volunteering improved their mood.” Volunteering with MVLS is a true win/win scenario. What better feeling than knowing you’ve helped someone to improve their life? MVLS volunteers see clients during their most vulnerable times and have helped them bypass bankruptcy, get their license back by eliminating tax debts, clear their record to proceed with their job search, and so much more. As one client shared, “I can sleep and breathe now.” MVLS volunteers have also expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to give back.
UnitedHealth Group’s study also found:
- 76 percent of people who volunteered in the last twelve months said that volunteering has made them feel healthier
- 78 percent of them said that volunteering lowered their stress levels
- 96 percent reported that volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life
Are you ready to get started?
Sign up online to become a volunteer today.
Already a volunteer? Browse our Pro Bono Portal to find the case that’s right for you.