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MLSC Announces 2010 Legal Services Awards - Honoring Wilhelm H. Joseph, Jr. among many others
The Board of Directors of the Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) has selected persons and organizations to receive its 2010 legal services awards. F. Vernon Boozer, Chairman of the MLSC Board, Maryland Chief Judge Robert M. Bell and members of the MLSC Board will present the awards at the organization’s annual awards reception on Monday, December 6, 2010, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel.
Ward B. Coe III of Gallagher Evelius & Jones LLP, will receive the Arthur W. Machen, Jr. Award. This award is presented 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. Throughout his long and established career as a practicing attorney in the public and private sector in Maryland, Mr. Coe has had a strong record of support of legal services to the poor, especially his extensive involvement in the lengthy class action suit to reform the Baltimore City foster care system and service as chair of the statewide Standing Committee on Pro Bono. ,
Wilhelm H. Joseph, Jr.executive director of the Legal Aid Bureau, will be honored as this year’s recipient of the MLSC Benjamin L. Cardin Distinguished Service Award. This award is presented annually to an outstanding public interest attorney regularly involved in providing, promoting or managing civil legal services to the poor. Mr. Joseph, who has led the Legal Aid Bureau for 14 years, has advocated for the poor through his long civil rights career, his efforts with the filing fee initiatives in the Maryland General Assembly and many other accomplishments.
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 Carole J. Alexander, former executive director of the House of Ruth. Ms. Alexander was the longest serving director, transforming the domestic violence landscape with meaningful protections and services for victims in Maryland and creating the legal services clinic, which has been a national model.
MLSC is presenting the Herbert S. Garten Public Citizen Award, which honors an entity or organization not regularly engaged in the delivery of legal services to low-income persons, to two law firms, Dickstein Shapiro LLP and Hunton & Williams LLP, because of their dedicated pro bono services on behalf of immigrants’ rights in cooperation with the Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services in Silver Spring and the Montgomery County Family Justice Center. Both firms provide legal counseling five afternoons a week to immigrant domestic violence victims and recruit, train and mentor other pro bono attorneys who take cases related to visas and citizenship as well as domestic violence.
The MLSC Board is also presenting Awards of Special Recognition to Senator Brian E. Frosh and Delegate Kathleen M. Dumais, of the Maryland General Assembly, who were leaders in the legislature working tirelessly to assure the passage of the filing fee surcharge legislation in 2010 to benefit funding for legal services to low-income Marylanders. Additionally, MLSC will recognize Marguerite Gardner, who retired after serving as administrative assistant for the Legal Services to the Elderly Program of the Bar Association of Baltimore City since its inception and providing compassion and patience as a "first responder" to every senior that contacted the office. MLSC will also recognize the outstanding service of outgoing Board member Douglas S. Snyder, Ph.D. of Bowie.
MLSC annually solicits nominations for legal services awards from 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 over $138 million to help provide services in more than 1.7 million legal matters for Maryland’s families in areas of family, housing, consumer, employment, health care and other civil legal matters.
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