Mid-Shore Pro Bono Honors Attorney Volunteers

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Mid-Shore Pro Bono (MSPB) recently honored the volunteer attorneys who enable the organization to assist low-income residents of five Mid-Shore counties with civil legal matters. Its annual Pro Bono Awards Reception was held on October 27 at The Milestone in

Left to right, Mid-Shore Pro Bono 2011 Award recipients Kevin Joyce and Christine Joyce, representing the law firm of Joyce & Associates; Judge Karen M. Jensen; attorneys Chris McGrady, Jimmy Persels and Peter Cotter; with Executive Director Sandy Brown and Board President Jesse Hammock.

Easton, hosted together with Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence.

Executive Director Sandy Brown and Board President Jesse Hammock presented plaques to the Mid-Shore Pro Bono award recipients, along with citations from local legislators.

Joyce & Associates received the Law Firm of the Year Award, recognizing a firm that has materially improved the delivery of legal services to financially disadvantaged residents of the Mid Shore. The firm has provided more than 280 hours of free or reduced-fee legal services through Mid-Shore Pro Bono since January. Hammock noted that MSPB had received repeated compliments from clients whose cases have been referred to Joyce & Associates for the firm’s “attention to detail, their thoroughness and their willingness to go the extra mile to ensure adequate representation.”

Young Attorney of the Year honors went to Peter Cotter. Since moving to the Mid Shore this past spring, when he was still awaiting notification of passing the Maryland bar exam, Cotter has donated more than 50 hours of service to MSPB’s legal clinic in Easton. He has contributed numerous additional hours assisting other attorneys and staff on legal cases and administrative issues, while also finding time to serve as an assistant football coach at Easton High School.

Recognizing the work of an individual who not only accepts clients for pro bono representation, but also actively assists MSPB in expanding its work and accomplishing its mission, attorney Jimmy Persels received the Volunteer of the Year Award. A volunteer at the Easton clinic since July 2010, Persels helped expand its reach into Queen Anne’s County, serving as the resident attorney at the clinic established there. He also was commended for providing countless hours of support for the staff on administrative and non-legal matters.

The Attorney of the Year Award is presented to a lawyer demonstrating exceptional contributions to the public good not only by accepting cases, but by the highly professional resolutions of those cases for the clients and legal system. Chris McGrady was honored for his work in expanding the Bankruptcy Court’s Debtors Assistance Project (DAP) to the Mid Shore. Few local attorneys were qualified in that area of the law when DAP was introduced. McGrady was the first attorney from the western shore who volunteered to come to Easton each month to staff the project.

More than a year later, McGrady continues to assist DAP clients while also accepting direct referral cases from MSPB. “His dedication to our program has enabled us to offer bankruptcy assistance that was not before available to the population we serve,” added Hammock.

At the reception, Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence presented its own awards to the Caroline County District Court; attorneys Michael-Anne Mundy and Richard S. Phillips; Clerk Dawn Cordrey and Legal Assistant Lynn M. Wefelmeyer; and State’s Attorney William H. Jones.

The two organizations jointly recognized the Honorable Karen M. Jensen, Circuit Court Judge in Caroline County, with their Above & Beyond Award. Presented to an individual whose contributions have been exceptional, it recognizes work that ensures the growth, visibility and accomplishment of both agencies’ missions.

Jensen was commended for her understanding of the dynamics and devastating effects of domestic violence and support for the two organizations’ efforts to assist its victims and others who cannot afford legal services. “Her constant encouragement of the organizations,” said Hammock, “and her willingness to reach out to all persons in the legal field on behalf of those organizations, clearly go above and beyond to ensure that the programs succeed and grow.”
In addition to the award recipients, Brown thanked all of the Mid-Shore Pro Bono volunteer attorneys for their contributions to the young organization’s rapid growth and success. She noted that they had donated over 2500 hours of free legal services to the community during MSPB’s latest fiscal year, assisting more than 500 clients in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties.

For more information, call Mid-Shore Pro Bono at 410-690-8128 or visit www.midshoreprobono.org.

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