January 2018 – Shannon Byrne

Since Shannon Byrne joined MVLS as a volunteer in 2016, she has put forth an enormous amount of effort and shown huge dedication to our clients. At our expungement clinics where we partner with South Baltimore Learning Center (SBLC), Shannon has been an instrumental help, often staying long past closing time to ensure all of the clients who need help get their records expunged. With the help of her colleagues at Rosenberg Martin as well as MVLS and SBLC staff, Shannon coordinates these clinics, creating an amazing opportunity for people in need of help with their criminal records. Due to the connections that she has made with clients, our staff, and community partners, Shannon has made great strides in relating to MVLS clients and doing her part to provide legal services for low-income Maryland residents.

MVLS staff would like to highlight a particular instance where Shannon had an objection on an expungement in St. Mary’s County that did not seem right. Rather than just accepting this as fact, Shannon spoke with the State’s Attorney and the Court house until she got all of the documents and answers. This determination to have the state prove their case demonstrates how lucky our clients are to have attorneys like Shannon advocating for them. You can read on below to learn more about why pro bono is important to her.

1. Why do you choose to volunteer with MVLS?

 I chose to volunteer with MVLS when I learned that a significant barrier to many individuals experiencing homelessness in Baltimore obtaining employment and housing was their criminal record.  I was even more shocked to learn that a number of cases on those records are expungeable, but most people do not realize they have that option.  Once I learned all of this, it just made sense.

2. Do you have any stand out stories?

 My biggest stand out story was when I received a hand written thank you note from one of my expungement clients. The thank you note read: “Dear Shannon, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to help me.  Not many people help, but you did and I thank you from my heart, and my prayers are with you.” 

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

What I most enjoy about volunteering is meeting people from all different walks of life.  Hearing the stories, hardships, and aspirations of others is both uplifting and humbling.  There is no better feeling than being the helping hand someone needs to make a positive change in their future.

4. Why should other attorneys do pro bono?

Other attorneys should do more pro bono because it not only impacts the life of the individuals you represent, but it changes you.  It makes you see the community, and the legal system, through a completely different lens.  Not to mention, a few hours out of your year can mean a fresh start for someone.  With benefits as great as that, it’s really a no-brainer.

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