COMMUNITY LEGAL SERVICES OF PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY, INC.
By Nora C. Eidelman, Deputy Director
We hope you a wonderful holiday season! This month we want to share with you a brief history of CLS for those who are new to it. Founded in 1985 as The Law Foundation of Prince George’s County, Inc., we began solely as a lawyer-referral organization searching for and referring lawyers who would provide free advice. A few years later, one of our board members, Judge Steven I. Platt, of the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County in Upper Marlboro wanted to address the large number of litigants flooding the courthouse seeking legal advice. Judge Platt helped identify funding from Prince George’s County and office space to open a law clinic inside the courthouse to provide legal advice to these litigants. To date we are located in Room M2435. Feel free to stop by to meet our staff.
In 2006, we renamed ourselves Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County, Inc. (CLS). Since our founding, we identified other funding that allowed us to develop new programs and open our various clinics: Our Lawyer Referral Program, Foreclosure Prevention Program, Bankruptcy Program, our Family Law Clinics in Upper Marlboro, Langley Park and Suitland, our Foreclosure Prevention Clinics in Greenbelt and Upper Marlboro, our Workers’ Rights Clinic in Langley Park, and our Failure to Pay Rent Tenant Representation Clinic in the District Court in Hyattsville.
CLS has grown from serving 132 clients in 1989 to serving over 12,000 in FY2019. Throughout our thirty-four year history, CLS has been funded by Maryland Legal Services Corporation. CLS is financially supported in all of our efforts through grants from the Prince George’s County Circuit Court, the Prince George’s County Council, the County Executive’s Partnership Grant, the Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, and many small private donations.
Additionally, I want to share with you that this past December I was honored to receive the Maryland Legal Services Corporation William L. Marbury Outstanding Advocate Award by Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC). This recognition is awarded annually to a non-attorney who has demonstrated outstanding service representing the civil legal needs of low-income Marylanders, or by expanding access to justice. I am proud to work with a very special group of advocates at CLS so this special recognition of my efforts was humbling for me. This honor also came in the good company of the Honorable Cathy Hollenberg Serrette who was awarded the Arthur W. Machen, Jr. Award. This award is presented to an attorney who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to increasing access to justice and improving the civil legal services delivery system for low-income Marylanders. CLS and other legal services providers addressing the legal needs of economically disadvantaged communities are privileged to have the ability to assume such an important role – and we should do so with a level of care and commitment to excellence to which we ourselves would desire if we were suddenly walking in their shoes. The non-profit practice stands out as a beacon of hope to marginalized citizens, and we could not do this work without the support and commitment of MLSC, and your continued your continued commitment and voluntarism to help hundreds of CLS clients yearly.
We will continue to accept our challenge to answer the legal needs of our target population, and work together to achieve the best outcome in every instance. Additional awardees included Nina Shore who received the Benjamin L. Cardin Distinguished Service Award, Amy Hennen and Ingrid Lofgren who received the Rising Star Award, and Charles W. Gilchrist Immigrant Resource Center who received the Herbert S. Garten Public Citizen Award.
Our Failure to Pay Rent Tenant Representation Program
Attorneys can sign up to help families avoid wrongful evictions in our Failure to Pay Rent Program. Training & Stipend is Available. Attorneys will provide same day representation to tenants in Prince George’s County Rent Court, located at Hyattsville District Court. CLS provides training, malpractice insurance coverage, mentoring, and support to our volunteers. Out-of-state attorneys are welcomed. Representing Tenants in Prince George’s County Rent Court training, in partnership with the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, is available on line at www.pbrc.org. The training includes Landlord/Tenant rules and perspectives, issue spotting in Failure to Pay Rent complaints, and practical advice for handling cases. If you wish to take this training or have questions about the program, please contact Kayla Williams, Esq. at email@example.com. Participating attorneys must commit to volunteer to staff two clinics or take two landlord/tenant cases within one year of completing the training. Beyond this volunteer commitment, a stipend of $100* will be provided to attorneys in exchange for their representation. *per docket. Funding for this program is provided by Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC).
Note: Our Monthly Foreclosure Prevention Training is cancelled for the month of December. We will resume in January 2020.
Funding Available for Representation in Foreclosure Prevention
CLS has funding for attorneys representing clients in Prince George’s County through our Foreclosure Prevention Program. CLS has expanded our Foreclosure Prevention project to provide paid hours to attorneys accepting cases for representation in foreclosure defense cases, post-foreclosure Motions for Surplus, tenants in foreclosures, as well foreclosure mediation. In foreclosure prevention cases, the funding provides attorneys $80.00 an hour and up to thirty hours of representation. Funds include representation at judicial proceedings, mediation preparation, representation at mediation, and negotiations. Additionally, funding is available for bankruptcy chapter 7, and other legal actions that may help the client save his home. If you are interested in being added to our foreclosure volunteer attorney pool, or require additional information, please contact Michael Udejiofor at 240-391-6532, ext. 1 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Training, mentoring and malpractice insurance is provided. Funding is available from a generous grant provided by MLSC.
Civil Cases Available for Attorneys and Other Volunteer Opportunities
Through our Lawyer Referral Program, we refer income eligible clients to attorneys for representation in their domestic cases. Judicare funding pays the attorneys’ fees. Attorneys receive $100.00 per hour with a cap of $3,000 per case. The billing process with CLS allows you to bill twice during the life of the case. Maryland Legal Services Corporation reimburses CLS for your billed time. As a result, a slight delay in Judicare payments should be
anticipated. This funding program is administered by MLSC with funds from the Administrative Office of the Courts. For more information about MSLC and the Judicare program, please visit https://www.mlsc.org/.
CLS also has volunteer opportunities at our Brief Advice clinics. Expand and grow your practice by volunteering around your schedule.
CLS clients have limited means but have real legal issues that require representation. Help CLS bridge the Access to Justice Gap by taking Judicare or Pro bono cases. CLS provides our volunteer attorneys training, mentoring, access to a litigation fund, monthly practitioner’s clinics, and malpractice insurance. To learn more about our opportunities, please contact Nora Eidelman, at 240-391-6532, ext. 5.
Are you interested in building your practice by adding Protective and Peace Orders?
Training is available. CLS’s domestic violence program places protective order and peace order petitioners and respondents with attorneys. CLS will provide mentoring to help you prepare your case. You will also be able to shadow one of staff attorneys during Protective and Peace Order hearings. If you are interested or have any questions, please email Catrina Aquilino, Esq. at email@example.com
Free Estate Planning Services for Income-Eligible Adults of Any Age
CLS now provides free estate planning services for income-eligible county residents. Our staff attorney is available to prepare wills, advanced medical directives and power of attorney documents. To schedule an appointment, please call 240-391-6532, ext. 8.
Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County, Inc. (CLS) is a non-profit organization established to provide quality civil legal services to low-income residents of Prince George’s County. CLS provides direct legal services through the generous contributions by members of the private bar. Additionally, CLS operates free Brief Advice Clinics throughout the County, including in the Prince George’s County Circuit Court, Room 2435 M, the Prince George’s County Multi-Services Center in Langley Park, and in Suitland’s Windsor Crossings Apartments. For referrals of low-income residents of Prince George’s County to CLS programs, our hotline is 240-391-6370. Intake is Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm., online applications are available at www.clspgc.org. For more information about our services, please contact Nora C. Eidelman, at 240-391-6532, ext. 5.