We’re proud to recognize Robert McGarrah, Jr., as the Volunteer of the Month. Read on to learn more about Robert and his experience as an MVLS volunteer.
Why do you choose to volunteer with MVLS?
MVLS is one of the best pro bono opportunities for Maryland lawyers. Not only does it offer free legal services to needy Marylanders, but it offers excellent support with experienced staff who know the law and procedure as well as the key administrative agency people in state government.
Are there any recent cases that you’re proud of? Tell us more about what happened, or about what you learned.
I took an MVLS consumer debt collection case for an elderly woman who lived alone in Prince George’s County. The client was ashamed that she’d incurred a large credit card debt. As I interviewed her, I learned she’d been the victim of elder financial abuse, both with the MVLS collections case in District Court for credit card purchases and with student loan debt–a Plus Loan at one of Corinthian Colleges for-profit, training programs for one of her children. She felt so badly about what she’d done, she’d actually made payments from her small Social Security checks.
As I came to understand her plight and learned more about the growing problem of elder financial abuse in America, I explained to her how many elderly people are victimized each year. The client then began to describe other problems and citing Maryland statutory requirements on elder financial abuse for financial institutions, I convinced the debt collector’s attorney to dismiss the case. The US Department of Education also forgave the balance due on her Plus Loan.
How does volunteering with MVLS impact you (personally, professionally, or both)?
I get great satisfaction applying the law for people in need. While they don’t know the law and have frequently been victimized, their gratitude and prayers is excellent compensation.
What would you say to others who are considering volunteering with or supporting MVLS?
I highly recommend MVLS to all Maryland lawyers. It has excellent resources and support and it more than meets the professional obligation we all have to serve our fellow citizens.
How would you explain the impact of your pro bono work to someone who isn’t familiar with MVLS?
MVLS pro bono work pays dividends to Maryland attorneys. It has a wealth of challenging cases from some of Maryland’s neediest citizens, who are often in dire straits. Helping people in our community builds trust in the legal profession and makes a big difference in the lives of people who rarely have the opportunities we have as attorneys.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Just keep up the good work at MVLS!