Anne K. Pecora

Lawyer and University of Baltimore professor devoted her career to social justice and environmental advocacy

December 25, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Anne K. Pecora, a lawyer and retired University of Baltimore law professor whose legal practice encompassed elder law, environmental protection and civil rights, died Dec. 15 of a brain hemorrhage at Maryland General Hospital. She was 62.

Anne Kluge was born in Buffalo, N.Y., and raised in Orlando, Fla., and Severna Park.

She was a 1964 graduate of Severna Park High School and earned a bachelor's degree in political science and economics from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1968.

Ms. Pecora earned her law degree from the University of Baltimore in 1973 and a master's degree in liberal arts from the Johns Hopkins University in 1982.

"We were political activists in the 1960s and participated in all of the major anti-war and civil rights demonstrations," said Richard F. "Rick" Pecora, a Baltimore attorney and former state environmental secretary, who met his future wife when both were students at College Park. They married in 1967.

"Anne was a person who was looking for social change. She always wanted to look out for the little guy and help the underdog," Mr. Pecora said.

"She believed change could be accomplished without burning down the Capitol. However, she didn't back down, wasn't afraid of bureaucrats, and was always pleasant and gracious," he said.

Ms. Pecora began her legal career working as an attorney for Volunteers in Service to America, known as VISTA, and as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Bureau.

In 1975, Ms. Pecora became director of the Elder Law Representation Project of Baltimore City, a University of Baltimore Law School clinical program, which she directed until 1992.

"As director of the University of Baltimore's legal counseling service for the elderly, she has helped people in fights with the landlord, aided those beset with lawsuits, sued government commissions and fought numerous legal battles for Baltimoreans over 60," said a 1975 profile in The Sun.

During her 30-year tenure on the University of Baltimore Law School faculty, Ms. Pecora taught civil procedure and elder law.

"Anne was a tireless, passionate pioneer in advocating for seniors, for people with disabilities, and for clinical legal education," Jason Frank, an attorney, who was hired by Ms. Pecora in 1983 to staff the Legal Services for Senior Citizens clinic in Baltimore County, wrote in an e-mail to colleagues.

Mr. Frank wrote that her students "learned to practice law by advocating for seniors in UB's Legal Services for Senior Citizens program as well as in clinical programs that gave students experience in criminal practice, juvenile law and prisoners' rights. And they loved her."

He added: "Her impassioned advocacy resulted in appellate court decisions that made real, positive differences in the lives of thousands."

Because of her work, Ms. Pecora was known as the "warrior for the forgotten" and the "people's lawyer."

In 2005, Ms. Pecora was presented the Legacy of Excellence in Litigation Award by the law school.

"She did have a passion for her clients which inspired her students," said Jane C. Murphy, the associate dean for academic affairs and law professor at the University of Baltimore Law School, who was a close friend of 20 years. "While she respected everyone, Anne was not impressed by titles. She was outspoken and said her piece on her own terms."

Ms. Pecora's articles dealing with law for the elderly and administrative law issues were published in the Villanova Law Review, Arkansas Law Review and the University of Illinois Elder Law Review.

After retiring from the Universtiy of Baltimore three years ago, Ms. Pecora practiced law with her husband and his brother, Robin J. Pecora, in their Baltimore law firm.

If Ms. Pecora was outspoken in her manner of speech, she brought the same quality to her style of dress.

In a 1996 article in The Sun, the Bolton Hill resident explained that "I do that preppy-hippie or aging hippie style. Mainstream bohemian."

She also said that she eschewed "tight-fitting pants and black hair."

Ms. Pecora was a Unitarian and was a member of the board of Allied Contractors Inc.

"Her hobbies were collecting law students, kayaking, canoeing and environmental touring. In that order," her husband said.

Plans for a memorial service to be held in the spring at the law school were incomplete yesterday.

Also surviving are a son, Andrew J. Pecora of Kingsville; her mother, Jean Kluge of Bradenton, Fla.; two brothers, John Kluge of Shreveport, La., and Robert Kluge of Harrisburg, Pa.; a sister, Janet Turnburke of Nederland, Colo.; and two grandsons.

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