Robert has provided immense support with landlord/tenant cases over the past 22 years. He has mentored other attorneys on 17 landlord/tenant cases and has taken on 35 pro bono cases himself. Robert is always willing to help out when clients need it the most. We would like to specifically recognize Robert’s willingness to take on a rush case that had a hearing on that same day. Thanks to Robert stepping in and mentoring the volunteer, they were able to win the case for our client. As a result, the client was able to retrieve her full security deposit. We are so thankful to have dedicated, inspiring attorneys like Robert on the MVLS panel. You can read more about why he has made taking pro bono cases with MVLS a priority in his work.
1. Why do you choose to volunteer with MVLS?
I volunteer with the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service because it provides “one-stop shopping” for all my pro-bono needs! It provides me clients, training, mentoring, malpractice insurance, forms, advice, assistance with costs, plenty of ways to serve and, at the end of the case I receive encouragement to do it again. It is important to realize that MVLS really isn’t just for clients who need legal assistance. It’s for lawyers who want to make the world a little better one case at a time.
2. Do you have any stand out stories?
One of my clients was a very pleasant senior citizen caught up in a dispute with a contractor who was repairing her home after a fire. That matter was soon resolved and, aware of her confusion over fire-related events, I asked to see any papers relating to the fire. I saw a lease for housing she obtained while she was out of her home and learned she had never been returned the security deposit, nor the security deposit for rental of the furniture she had in the home. I contacted the furniture company which immediately returned the $1,000.00 deposit. Getting the housing deposit required discussions with the landlord, his attorney and ultimately a lawsuit seeking the treble damages and attorney fees permitted by law. The case settled the day before trial for twice the security deposit. In the end, my client ended up with $4,000 she didn’t even know she was owed and I felt great.
3. What is your favorite part about volunteering with MVLS?
My favorite part of volunteering with MVLS is its wonderful, dedicated gracious staff and attorneys. They are all compassionate people who really feel deeply about their clients and work hard– and yet so pleasantly — to encourage attorneys to help close this “justice gap” we’ve all heard about and seen.
4. Why should other attorneys do pro bono?
Most attorneys seem to know they should do pro bono work, so I prefer to focus on why they don’t do it and address those reasons. Attorneys may be concerned about getting involved in unfamiliar practice areas, or finding a case to handle that doesn’t take a long time. They might be concerned about creating a long-term relationship with a client that they’d rather not have, or whether there will be malpractice insurance in the unlikely event they need it. I tell them that the MVLS offers a wide range of cases requiring no time at all, free training before they take that case, and mentoring while they are handling the case. I also tell them that every case they take from the MVLS comes with unlimited positive reinforcement from the staff and immense gratitude (albeit sometimes unspoken) from the clients they have helped.