From the Harford County Bar Foundation:
Community collaboration was the main topic of discussion at “And Justice For All: Opening the Courthouse Door,” an event held by the Harford County Bar Foundation and the Harford County Pro Bono Committee on November 6 in Aberdeen.
Specifically, the program focused on the collaboration between the nonprofits in Harford County and the legal service providers who work together to provide services to the underserved in the community.
The gathering featured presentations from local agencies that provide pro bono legal services in Harford County: Office of Child Support Enforcement, Office of Family Court Services, Harford County Bar Foundation, Harford County Community Mediation Program, Legal Aid Bureau, Pro Se Assistance Project Self-Help Center, Office of the Public Defender, SARC and Victim Witness Assistance Unit.
Also at the event was the announcement of results of a survey about local legal services conducted by the Harford County Bar Foundation and the Harford County Pro Bono Committee.
Income, transportation and fear to ask for assistance are the most common barriers to low-income residents accessing legal services in Harford County, according to the survey. The survey also found that the most common legal issues facing low-income individuals in the county are criminal law, custody and child support.
The survey, coordinated by Colleen Mahoney, a University of Baltimore Law School intern, was sent in late summer and early fall to 100 human services providers in the county to find out more about the legal needs of populations they serve. The goal of the survey was to improve the quality of legal resources available in Harford County by gaining familiarity with services already offered in the county and to improve program collaboration.
“As a result of the discussions at ‘And Justice For All,’ the Harford County Bar Foundation will hold programs at the community organizations, which will help better the underserved or ‘invisible’ populations who need legal services in Harford County,” said Nancy Mahoney, executive director of the Harford County Bar Foundation.
Jennifer Larrabee, Esq., deputy director of the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland who attended the gathering, said, “I commend the Harford County Bar Foundation and Harford County Pro Bono Committee for conceiving of and organizing this unique and extremely productive event. As a direct result of bringing together the local legal services providers and non-profit community groups, more people will be aware of and have access to the legal services they so desperately need but cannot afford.” She added, “The Pro Bono Resource Center is very supportive of this initiative and looks forward to collaborating with the Harford County Bar Foundation to recruit and train volunteer attorneys in the areas of greatest unmet need in the community.”
Sponsors of “And Justice For All” were Harford Mutual Insurance, Business Machines and Byte Right Support in addition to donors Richard Herbig and Adam Hyman, members of the foundation’s board of directors.
The Harford County Bar Foundation was established in 1991 to increase pro bono services and to provide educational resources to low-income individuals in need of legal assistance in family law, housing, bankruptcy, consumer, foreclosure, and estates and trust.
For more information, visit www.harfordcountybarfoundation.org.