Legal Aid Bureau

Behind the Scenes

November 21, 1999|By Karin Remesch

Mission: Established in 1911, the Legal Aid Bureau is a nonprofit law firm that provides free civil legal services to low-income people statewide from 13 offices. The bureau serves clients who have problems that affect their basic survival, such as family dysfunction, denial of benefits for medical care, income maintenance or food stamps, and threat of eviction. Legal intervention can alleviate these problems or prevent them from escalating to homelessness, hunger, abuse, neglect and violence.

Latest accomplishment: In 1998, the bureau began education and advocacy services to grandparents of disabled children, residents of Section 8 housing, and people who are handling their own divorces in the state circuit courts. The bureau expanded its outreach to the Spanish-speaking community and continued outreach to senior citizens, nursing home residents, and migrant and seasonal workers. An innovative computer-assisted telephone legal advice and referral system was introduced for client services in partnership with a private firm, the Legal Advice Line. Also last year, the bureau's Equal Justice Council raised more than $250,000.

On the horizon: The bureau will educate and advocate for low-income residents and owners of assisted-living facilities, which came under new regulations this year. A Skadden Fellow, an attorney and social worker, will represent children with special needs in the foster care system in Prince George's County. The bureau will also operate the Maryland Senior Legal Hotline in cooperation with other nonprofit and state agencies to improve access, increase the services and expand coordination of existing legal assistance to older people.

About the bureau: In 1998, more than 100 attorneys, 45 legal assistants and a number of volunteers and students responded to nearly 50,000 requests for assistance. Operating budget: $10,539,015.

Where and when: Main office, 500 E. Lexington St., Baltimore. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Call 410-539-5340, 800-999-8904 or 800-458-5340 (TTY). Web site: www.mdlab.org.

Warren S. Oliveri Jr., president of the board of directors: "We remain committed to our mission of assisting those with limited means through Maryland and federal courts and regulatory agencies. By providing advice for legal problems, explaining rights and obligations and enforcing those rights in court, if necessary, bureau staff can help obtain or maintain food, housing, medical care, jobs and other basic survival needs for the neediest citizens of our state."

Members of the board

Christopher Brown

Phyllis Butler

Michael Carlis

Benjamin R. Civiletti

Thomas B. Corey

Jo M. Glasco

John R. Greene

Anita Hendricks

Anilkumar J. Hoffberg

Deborah Jeon

Gwendolyn Johnson

Robert F. Kahoe

Jo Ann Myles

Ora Reeves

Lynn K. Stewart

Iris Whiting

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