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MLSC Awarded Foundation Leadership Project Grant

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

August 5, 2014, Baltimore, MD – The Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC), which administers Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) and other funds for civil legal services to low-income persons throughout the state, is one of 10 national recipients of grants from the National Association of IOLTA Programs (NAIP). The grant to MLSC will be used to educate Maryland’s philanthropic community about the value of supporting civil legal aid in meeting basic human needs of vulnerable populations and integrating civil legal aid throughout multiple areas of the work of other foundations.

The Public Welfare Foundation’s article, Natural Allies: Philanthropy and Civil Legal Aid, notes that “investing to help low-income people solve their legal problems is smart, results-oriented philanthropy. …. Legal aid groups…have answers when families need housing, food, health care. …their work corrects bad policy and changes how society treats the most vulnerable. Yet, civil legal aid … has often been an overlooked partner in philanthropic efforts to improve … economic, social, and health conditions for low-income people and communities.”

MLSC will be working closely on this project with the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG), with a membership of 145 private and community foundations, donor-advised funds and corporate grantmakers. The goal of the NAIP-funded projects is to enhance IOLTA relationships throughout the country with private foundations and further foundation support of access to justice initiatives in meeting their own goals.The project activities over the next year will include workshops, a webinar and topical issue briefs for funders throughout the state.

MLSC was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1982 to receive and distribute funds to nonprofit organizations that provide civil legal assistance to low-income persons. It is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. From its inception, MLSC has made grants totaling almost $200 million to help provide services in over 2 million cases for Maryland’s families in areas of family, housing, consumer, employment, health care and other civil legal matters.

MLSC Seeks Nominations for 2014 Awards

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JUNE 30, 2014

The Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) was established as a nonprofit organization by the Maryland General Assembly to receive and distribute funds to grantees that provide civil legal services to the poor. In recognition of outstanding contributions by Maryland individuals and organizations that provide or support justice to the poor, MLSC has created four awards to be given annually, as follows:

  • The Arthur W. Machen, Jr. Award
  • The Benjamin L. Cardin Distinguished Service
  • The William L. Marbury Outstanding Advocate Award
  • The Herbert S. Garten Public Citizen Award

Nominations for the 2014 awards must be submitted not later than June 16, 2014 to MLSC. Formal awards will be presented at an Awards Ceremony in the fall.

For online nomination forms, nomination descriptions and instructions as well as a list of past award recipients, see Nominating Process. If you need any additional information or assistance, please contact hrobinson@mlsc.org.

Legal Services Events 2014

Friday, December 27th, 2013

This listing includes major events sponsored by MLSC grantees. Please contact the event sponsors for more information.

February

2/13/14 – University of Baltimore School of Law and University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law – 2014 Public Service Legal Career Fair, 3 – 5:30 p.m., University of Baltimore School of Law, 1401 N. Charles Street, Baltimore. For more information, contact Emily Rogers at erogers@ubalt.edu or 410-837-4404.

March

3/27/14 – Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service – March Madness, 6 – 9 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore. For more information, see www.mvlslaw.org/tickets or contact Stephanie Austin at 443-451-4065 or saustin@mvlslaw.org.

April

4/2/14 – Maryland Public Interest Law Project, Inc. – Annual Goods & Services Auction, 6 – 9 p.m., University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, Westminster Hall, 500 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore. Save the date.

4/2/14 – Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County – Pro Bono Awards Reception & Silent Auction, 6 – 8 p.m., Federal Courthouse, Greenbelt. For information, contact conway@clspgc.org or 240-391-6532, ext. 10.

4/12/14 – Bar Association of Baltimore City Senior Legal Services – Law Day for Seniors, 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., District Courthouse, 5800 Wabash Avenue, Baltimore. For information, call 410-396-5278 or email jjones@baltimorebar.org.

4/28/14 – Homeless Persons Representation Project - Annual Volunteer Appreciation Reception, 5 – 7 p.m., University of Baltimore Angelos Law Center, 12th Floor, 1401 N. Charles Street, Baltimore. For more information, contact jhartenstein@hprplaw.org or 410-685-6589, x24.

May

5/15/14 – Pro Bono Resource Center – 16th Annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference, 8:15 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Baltimore Convention Center, 1 West Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. Save the Date. For more information, contact Kiah Pierre at 443-703-3046 or see http://www.probonomd.org.

5/21/14 – Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. – 55th Anniversary Celebration and Annual Meeting, 5:30 – 9 p.m., Radisson Hotel at Cross Keys, Baltimore. Save the Date. For more information, see www.bni-maryland.org.

June

6/5/14 – CASA de Maryland - 2nd Annual Justice Awards Night, 7 – 9 p.m., Citi Rooftop Terrace, 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004. Save the Date. For more information, see http://www.casademaryland.org.

October

10/15/14 – Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service – Celebrate Pro Bono, 6 – 8 p.m., Westminster Hall, Baltimore, MD. For more information, see www.mvlslaw.org.

10/29/14 – Women’s Law Center – 2014 Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony, 5:30 p.m., Grand Historic Venue, 225 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD. For more information, see www.wlcmd.org.

FY 2015 MLSC Funding Information Meeting Jan. 30

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

December 26, 2013 – Nonprofit organizations interested in continuing or seeking funding from the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) for civil legal services to low-income persons for Fiscal Year 2015 (July 1, 2014– June 30, 2015) must submit an application no later than March 14, 2014.

MLSC will hold a meeting to discuss the grant application process, general funding policies and the forecast for MLSC’s FY 2015 funding level with grantees and other interested persons on Thursday, January 30, 2014, 10:30 a.m. in the Wheeler Auditorium at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Central Branch, 400 Cathedral Street, Baltimore. MLSC grant application packets will be distributed at the meeting.

Please contact Tiffany Devonshire at MLSC (410-576-9494, ext. 1003 or tdevonshire@mlsc.org) in advance of the meeting if you need grant application materials in alternate format (such as Braille or large print) or have questions. For more information about the grant process, see Grants.

Directions

MLSC Announces 2013 Legal Services Awards

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

October 9, 2013 –The 2013 MLSC Legal Services Award recipients have been selected by the Maryland Legal Services Corporation’s (MLSC) Board of Directors, and will be honored at MLSC’s annual awards reception on Monday, December 9, 2013, 5:30-7:30 PM at the Lord Baltimore Hotel.

Manuel R. Geraldo of Robinson & Geraldo Law Offices will receive the Arthur W. Machen, Jr. Award for his significant contributions in private practice and public service. This award is given annually to an attorney, usually in private practice, who has rendered extraordinary service by providing civil legal services to the poor or by improving the civil legal services delivery system for such persons.

The Benjamin L. Cardin Distinguished Service Award recognizes outstanding public interest attorneys who are regularly involved in providing, promoting, or managing civil legal services. MLSC’s 2013 honorees are Carolyn S. Malinowski, managing attorney of the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, and Barbara A. Samuels, managing attorney of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland.

This year’s William L. Marbury Outstanding Advocate Award, for a non-attorney who has demonstrated outstanding service representing the rights and legal needs of low-income persons or by expanding access to justice for such persons, will be presented to Nancy F. Aiken, Ph.D., executive director of CHANA (Counseling, Help Line, and Aid Network for Abused Women) and Angelique Green-Manning, managing legal advocate of the House of Ruth Maryland.

The Open Society Institute Baltimore has been named as this year’s recipient of the Herbert S. Garten Public Citizen Award for its positive impact throughout the community and the commitment to access to justice through the support of many MLSC grantees. The Garten Award honors an entity or organization not regularly engaged in the delivery of legal services to low-income persons for its ongoing leadership in access to justice.

MLSC will present an Award of Special Recognition to Delegate Guy J. Guzzone, member of the House Appropriations Committee and chair of the Subcommittee on Public Safety and Administration, for his leadership in the successful passage of legislation to increase the Abandoned Property Fund allocation for the MLSC Fund.

MLSC annually solicits nominations for its legal services awards throughout Maryland’s legal community, including bar associations, legal services programs and other interested persons and organizations. MLSC was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1982 to receive and distribute funds to nonprofit organizations that provide civil legal assistance to low-income persons. From its inception, MLSC has made grants totaling almost $200 million to help provide services in over 2 million legal matters for Maryland’s families in areas of family, housing, consumer, employment, health care and other civil legal matters.

Media Sponsor: The Daily Record

MLSC Annual Awards – Dec. 9, 2013 – Save the Date

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Maryland Legal Services Corporation
Annual Awards Reception
Monday, December 9, 2013

5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Lord Baltimore Hotel, Calvert Ball Room, 20 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

For more information about sponsorship and registration contact: Harriet Robinson, 410-576-9494, ext. 1004 or hrobinson@mlsc.org.

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Legal Services Events 2013

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

This listing includes major events sponsored by MLSC grantees. Please contact the event sponsors for more information.

March

3/21/13 – Maryland Public Interest Law Project, Inc. – Annual Goods & Services Auction, 6 – 9 p.m., University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, Westminster Hall, 500 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore. For more information, see www.law.umaryland.edu/auction.

3/28/13 – Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service Annual Benefit – March Madness, 6 – 9 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium, 1101 Russell Street, Baltimore. For more information, see www.mvlslaw.org.

April

4/18/13 – House of Ruth Maryland – 12th Annual Spring Luncheon, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Marriott Waterfront Hotel, Baltimore. For more information, see www.hruth.org.

4/24/13 – Catholic Charities Baltimore Esperanza Center‘s 50th Year Anniversary, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m., Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, 600 S. Conkling St., Baltimore. For more information, contact Francisco Plasencia at fplasenc@cc-md.org or (443) 825-3423.

May

5/1/13 – Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center 15th Anniversary Celebration, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m., China Garden Restaurant, Rosslyn, VA. For more information, contact Kimberly Ahn at (202) 706-7079 or  kimberly.ahn@apalrc.org.

5/16/13 – Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland‘s 15th Annual Maryland Partners for Justice Conference, 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., Baltimore Convention Center, 1 West Pratt Street, Baltimore. For more information, see www.probonomd.org.

5/21/13 – Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. – BNI’s 54th Annual Meeting & Fundraiser Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the Federal Fair Housing Act, 6 – 8:30 p.m., Temple Oheb Shalom, 7310 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore. For more information, contact Robert Strupp at 410-243-4468 or rstrupp@bni-maryland.org.

October

10/4/13 – Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence Help Our Home Fundraiser, 5:00 – 7:30 p.m., River House, Easton. For more information, contact 410-714-1679.

10/10/13 – Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service Celebrate Pro Bono Awards Reception, 6 – 8 p.m., University of Maryland Carey School of Law’s Westminster Hall, Baltimore. For more information, see www.mvlslaw.org.

10/24/13 – Community Law Center 2013 Fundraising Event, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., Cylburn Arboretum’s Vollmer Center, Baltimore. For more information, see www.communitylaw.org.

November

11/6/13 – Women’s Law Center of Maryland Annual Awards Dinner, Grand Historic Venue, 225 North Charles Street, Baltimore. For more information, see www.wlcmd.org or call 410-321-8761.

December

12/9/13 – Maryland Legal Services Corporation, Annual Awards Reception, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Lord Baltimore Hotel, 20 W. Baltimore Street, Baltimore. For more information, contact Harriet Robinson at 410-576-9494, ext. 1004 or hrobinson@mlsc.org.

MLSC Warns Providers of Funding Cuts in FY 2014

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Maryland’s legal services safety net imperiled by looming sunset of filing fee increase

February 5, 2013, Baltimore, MD – The Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC), which funds more than 30 civil legal services programs that help low-income Marylanders, told its grantees that if MLSC is unable to secure additional funding, they can expect a five percent reduction in grant funding for fiscal year 2014, beginning July 1, 2013.

This directive, which comes on the heels of a 5 percent funding cut last year, assumes that MLSC will be successful in its efforts in the Maryland legislature this year to repeal a law that would result in a 40 percent loss in MLSC’s revenue.

At its annual Grant Informational Meeting, MLSC Executive Director Susan Erlichman told current grantees, as well as other interested applicants, that MLSC continues to face significant funding shortages. Revenue from the Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program, MLSC’s original primary funding source, continues to decline and has decreased 74 percent since 2008 when interest rates plummeted to near-zero. IOLTA now accounts for only 12 percent of MLSC funding. An increase in court filing fee surcharges enacted in 2010 by the Maryland General Assembly to address the IOLTA shortfall averted a significant crisis in the state’s legal services delivery system at that time, but fell short of projected revenues.

The 2010 legislation contained a three-year “sunset” provision which is scheduled to take effect June 30, 2013. “The sunset has left MLSC teetering at the edge of a fiscal cliff,” Erlichman said. “Should the provision take effect, MLSC would face a catastrophic loss of approximately $6 million, representing 40 percent of its revenue.”

Erlichman told its grantees that MLSC is seeking repeal of the sunset, noting that “such a loss would decimate our ability to address the legal needs of low-income Marylanders at a time of unprecedented need.”

Programs such as the House of Ruth, the Legal Aid Bureau, the Maryland Disability Law Center, the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, the Homeless Persons Representation Project and county and regional programs throughout Maryland rely on MLSC to fund programs that provide legal assistance to Marylanders struggling with mortgage foreclosures, food stamp applications, veterans’ benefits, domestic violence, and other serious legal issues.

“We face real and immediate challenges as we seek to maintain essential services,” said Chairman Glenn F. Ivey. “We’ll be working closely and tirelessly with our many partners to make sure we hold onto current funding, and pursue increased resources to avoid the need for further cuts and help meet the increasing demand.”

MLSC was established by the Maryland General Assembly in 1982 to receive and distribute funds to nonprofit organizations that provide civil legal assistance to low-income persons. It is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. From its inception, MLSC has made grants totaling over $182 million to help provide services to nearly 2 million low-income Marylanders needing help with issues involving family, housing, consumer, employment, health care and other civil legal matters.

Credit Card Payments and IOLTA Accounts

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Credit Card Payments and IOLTA Accounts

Beginning January 2013, if the tax identification number and name on file for the lawyer or law firm with the IRS do not exactly match the tax identification number and name of the lawyer or law firm provided to the credit card processing company, a mismatch will be declared. If a mismatch has occurred, a 28% withholding penalty, from their gross credit card sales, for the previous year will occur. The 28% withholding penalty will then be submitted to the IRS. Section 6050W does not make a distinction between credit card transaction deposits made to a trust or IOLTA bank account and an attorney’s operating account. For attorneys who have mismatched information, a 28% penalty could cause an overdraft in their IOLTA account, resulting in an ethical violation.

Important Information for Attorneys Who Accept Credit Card Payments

Changes in the law regarding the reporting of credit card transactions have the potential to negatively impact IOLTA accounts and lead to ethical violations by lawyers.

  • Pursuant to the Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008, credit card processing companies are required to verify and match each merchant’s federal tax identification number and her legal name with those found on file with the IRS. An EXACT match is required.
  • For the purposes of this requirement, lawyers who accept credit card payments are considered “merchants.”
  • If there is NOT an exact match between the information provided to the credit card processing company and the information on file with the IRS, there are serious consequences:
  • Beginning January 2013, the IRS will impose a 28% withholding penalty on all credit card transactions, including those that the lawyer directs to her IOLTA account.
  • If client funds that should be in the IOLTA account are withheld due to the lawyer’s failure to act and thus are not available to the client on demand, ethical issues are raised.
  • The credit card processing company should have received information from the IRS if a mismatch occurred and already notified the lawyer of the problem. However, it is not known if all processing companies have provided such notice.

Steps lawyers can take now to avoid an ethical violation in 2013:

  • Contact the credit card processor to determine that a match occurred
  • Correct mismatches if informed of one

For more information on this issue, see https://www.lawpay.com/news/irs6050w.pdf.

Sen. Cardin Lauds MLSC in Congressional Record

Monday, January 14th, 2013

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC), Senator Benjamin L. Cardin lauded MLSC’s accomplishments in the Congressional Record on December 20, 2012. Cardin stated, “As chairman of Maryland Legal Services Corporation from 1988-1995, I know firsthand the extraordinary service they provide to Marylanders.” He noted the increased importance of MLSC’s mission as more people are in need of civil legal services and gave examples of people around the state that have benefited from services by the nonprofit legal services organizations that receive funding from MLSC. See the entire statement in the Congressional Record of the 112th Congress: Senate, Vol. 158, No. 165.