Judicare Family Law Project

Overview

The Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) and the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) began the Judicare Family Law Pilot Project in 2008 to expand representation in family law matters at reduced fees. The precursor to this project was the pilot Child Custody Representation Project, a joint initiative of MLSC and AOC in 1999 to increase representation to low-income persons in complex child custody cases. In 2003, the University of Baltimore Law School’s Center for Families, Children and the Courts issued an evaluation report on the “Model Child Custody Representation Project,” which operated in Anne Arundel, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The report documented the project’s tremendous benefits and strongly recommended statewide expansion.

The current Judicare project was an expansion of the Child Custody Representation Project. In 2007, a study by Professor Michael Millemann at University of Maryland School of Law, commissioned by the Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) Section on Delivery of Legal Services with support from AOC, reviewed the potential of reinstating a program from the 1970s known as “Judicare,” which uses private lawyers paid reduced fees to serve low-income persons who could not otherwise obtain civil legal services. (See “Final Report and Recommendations on the Potential Use of Private Lawyers,” 2007.) Shortly after, the Maryland Judiciary released a report about the effect of self-represented litigants on the courts, which further supported the implementation of the Judicare pilot project. (See “Clearing a Path to Justice: A Report of the Maryland Judiciary Work Group on Self-Representation in the Maryland Courts,” 2007.) AOC completed  an evaluation of the pilot project from January 2008 through June 2009, showing the success of Judicare in providing cost efficient legal representation in complex family law cases while lessening the burden of self-represented litigants on the courts. (See “Evaluation of the Judicare Family Law Pilot Program” and “Judicare Family Law Pilot Project: Evaluation Supplement,” 2011.)

Opportunities for Attorneys

Case Types: Contested family litigation (divorce, custody and other contested family cases in which there is an important interest at stake and in which the litigant cannot effectively represent himself or herself).

Compensation: $80 per hour with a cap of $1,600 for 20 hours of work. Depending on availability of funds, the project may pay an additional $80 an hour, up to an additional $800 ($2,400 total cap), for every hour over 25 hours that the attorney spends on the case (thus 5 hours must be pro bono).

Other Benefits: Guaranteed compensation; support of litigation expenses; training and mentoring support

How to Participate: Judicare is available throughout Maryland. Contact an organization listed below that is administering Judicare in your jurisdiction.

Judicare Family Law Administering Organizations

Case types and participation requirements may vary with each organization.