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Dispatch | June, 6 2022

A2J Dispatch – May/June 2022 Issue

The May/ June Issue

In this issue, we highlight the A2JC program on the Affordable Law Task Force at the 2022 MSBA Legal Summit. We also explore the role of nonlawyer legal aid; celebrate as two more localities establish A2Counsel programs in eviction; explore implicit imbalances built into the immigration system for detainees facing deportation; and share the announcement of the head of the DOJ’s Office of Access to Justice.

A2J Commission News

Ward B. Coe, Chair of A2JC addresses MSBA Membership at Business Meeting. At the MSBA’s business meeting on Friday, June 3, Ward Coe gave an update on A2JC activities and reported on the growth of A2JC effectiveness and influence since it was adopted by the MSBA. Ward thanked MSBA members, leadership and staff; the Attorney General’s Office and justice partners, including MLSC and other civil legal aid organizations, all of whom worked collaboratively together to achieve a statewide Access to Counsel in Evictions law and over $25M in funding to implement the law.

Affordable Law Task Force presents at the Legal Summit. A2JC and MSBA joined forces this year to study how to fill the justice gap for a whopping 30% of Marylanders who do not qualify for free legal services, but do not make enough money to even afford basic necessities. Sarah Frush, chair of the Task Force and head of Civil Justice, Inc. moderated a panel with Syma Siddiqui, corporate counsel at Johns Hopkins; Meredith Girard, Executive Director at Mid-Shore Pro Bono; and Nicholas McDaniels of LewisMcDaniels. They discussed how different programs in Maryland are trying to meet the need, including a Frederick County model that incorporates the courts, paralegals and private practitioners doing limited scope; a non-profit’s approach to developing a private “low-bono” panel; and offering legal insurance as an employee benefit.

Law School Deans discuss A2J at 125th Thought Leadership Event at Legal Summit. Deans (and Commissioners) Tobin and Weich engaged in a broad-ranging conversation about the future of legal education as part of the 125th Thought Leadership programming. During the course of the conversation, they addressed how they encourage law students to develop a service mindset; their thoughts on training paraprofessionals to meet the widening justice gap; law school debt and their involvement in supplying the pipeline of talent for the Access to Counsel in Evictions Program.

Vicki Schultz celebrated as new Executive Director of Maryland Legal Aid. At the 2022 MSBA Legal Summit, A2JC co-hosted a reception with MSBA and Maryland Legal Aid to celebrate Vicki Schultz as the  new Executive Director of Maryland Legal Aid. David Shapiro, the newly installed President of the MSBA noted when introducing Vicki, “new leadership always presents new opportunities and I look forward to working with the Commission, Maryland Legal Aid and other civil justice partners to ensure that we at the MSBA continue to improve our programming and content; and ensure professional development and leadership opportunities for this segment of our profession.”

New Chair for Access to Counsel in Evictions Task Force. A2JC Executive Director, Reena Shah, has been named the new Chair of the legislatively mandated Access to Counsel in Evictions Task Force by Attorney General Brian Frosh. Shah, who previously chaired the Task Force’s Data Committee and served as Vice Chair of the Attorney General’s Covid-19 Access to Justice Task Force, will replace A2J Commissioner, Vicki Schultz. The Task Force will serve as an important convener and monitoring body to ensure that relevant stakeholders have an important voice and role in implementation of the state’s access to counsel in evictions program which is set to receive $12 million in FY2023 and another $14 million in FY2024 for implementation.

New Dean of Maryland Carey School of Law.  We congratulate Renée McDonald Hutchins who was named the new dean of the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, effective August 1. The Commission has a permanent seat on the Commission for both law school deans, so looks forward to welcoming Dean Hutchins and working with her to continue collaboration and engagement with the law school community in important initiatives aimed at improving and expanding access to justice for all in Maryland. At the 2022 Legal Summit, we had a great conversation with Deans Tobin and Weich on the future of legal education and its connection to access to justice.

Eviction Data. Beginning January 1, 2023, in accordance with HB824, which is now law, the Maryland Judiciary will collect and report eviction data (e.g., case type, case number, date of eviction, and county/zip code of eviction) and importantly, the data will be reported online monthly and made available to state agencies and/or academic researchers. More granular eviction data will go a long way towards ensuring effective implementation of the state’s Access to Counsel in Eviction Program and enable important analysis including identification of eviction hot spots and areas for targeted outreach.

Local A2J News

National A2J News