March 2019 – Nickola N. Sybblis

1. Why do you choose to volunteer with MVLS?

In most civil matters there is no statutory or constitutional right to counsel. I choose to volunteer with MVLS to provide access to legal representation to individuals who truly need assistance but are unable to afford an attorney. Initially, I started volunteering with MVLS about 5 years ago because I had a significant amount of “free time.” I had just launched my solo career and thought that it would be productive way to contribute to my community. Since then I have continued to accept family law cases through MVLS.

2. Do you have a stand out client story?

The case/client that stands out most in my mind is a client who needed a second chance to have access to her children. My client lost custody of her two children through Child In Need of Assistance (CINA) proceedings in Baltimore City. Her children were removed from her care because she was struggling with alcoholism. She was unable to provide appropriate care and attention to her children. She did not participate in the CINA proceedings nor did she engage in any of the services offered by the Department of Social Services (DSS). The Court eventually awarded custody of her children to two different individuals and ordered that her visitation be supervised.

Several years later, she found the courage to seek treatment for her addiction. She was able to successfully complete treatment, becoming a peer leader in her treatment program. She was only allowed sporadic access to her children at the discretion of their respective guardians. I assisted her through MVLS in her petitions for modification of custody for both her children (two separate cases). Her story is one of persistence and redemption. She initially struggled to maintain her sobriety, but was able to finally to conquer the demons of alcoholism. While the Court did not award her sole physical custody of the children, the Court allowed her a very reasonable access schedule with her children. This gave her an opportunity to rebuild her relationship with her children.

3. What is your favorite part of volunteering with MVLS

My favorite part of volunteering with MVLS is the ability to make connections and grow my client base. I have represented clients through MVLS who in turn have referred their friends, acquaintances and family members who can afford legal services.

4. Why should other attorneys do pro bono

I would encourage other attorneys to do some pro bono work because it is an awesome opportunity to make an invaluable contribution to the community, make new connections and hone your litigation skills.