We’re proud to recognize Chester Hobbs, as the Volunteer of the Month. Read on to learn more about Chester and his experience as an MVLS volunteer.
Why do you choose to volunteer with MVLS?
When I was admitted to the Maryland Bar Association in 1987, I worked for Thomas G. Bodie. As my mentor, Tom Bodie highly prioritized pro bono service. He thought it was an integral part of any law practice and an integral part of our firm that was then known as Power & Moser.
With his influence, pro bono has always been a part of my practice. I appreciate the referrals for pro bono clients from MVLS, because they have pre-screened the clients and I know that each client genuinely needs pro bono services. There are so many people in need, but certainly having MVLS screen and qualify persons as genuinely in need of pro bono representation is a big help in not having to independently assess a client’s financial ability to pay for services.
Are there any recent cases that you’re proud of? Tell us more about what happened, or about what you learned.
There are numerous cases that I am proud of, but for many years I have been primarily taking chapter 7 bankruptcy referrals from MVLS. Often, the clients who are referred to me are under severe emotional distress due to creditor harassment and stress related to their inability to pay their bills. It gives great satisfaction to see the mental state of the client improve once they have gone through the bankruptcy process and are relieved of these debt obligations.
People don’t often think of bankruptcy practice as emotionally satisfying, but until you have represented a client who wishes they could pay their bills, but be unable to do so, relieved of the stress, you don’t appreciate the impact of bankruptcy discharge on a client’s mental wellbeing.
How does volunteering with MVLS impact you (personally, professionally, or both)?
Again, as stated above, it gives me personal satisfaction to see the vast improvement in the mental health of clients who have received a bankruptcy discharge of debts they have no ability to pay, despite their best efforts.
From a professional standpoint, I am able to render significant representation on a pro bono basis because I have a wonderful staff who can handle much of what is required to administer a successful bankruptcy case. As such, we are able to take pro bono cases and manage them efficiently within the infrastructure of a well-established bankruptcy practice. It allows us to take more MVLS referrals than if we were taking referrals in an area of law that I don’t regularly practice.
What would you say to others who are considering volunteering with or supporting MVLS?
MVLS is a wonderful organization and well-needed in the State of Maryland to assure that persons of modest means have access to legal representation in critical areas. If a practitioner has an area of practice that can benefit MVLS clients, that attorney should certainly consider volunteering, at least in their areas of practice, because volunteers in all areas of the law are needed.
How would you explain the impact of your pro bono work to someone who isn’t familiar with MVLS?
MVLS is a non-profit organization designed to connect persons of modest means in the State of Maryland with lawyers qualified to handle the much needed legal work on their behalf, and that handling these matters is of vital importance to both the clients and the communities where they live.