Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS), the largest provider of pro bono civil legal services to low-income Marylanders, honored its dedicated volunteer attorneys during its “Celebrate Pro Bono” awards program on October 4. The annual awards recognize attorneys who have donated their time and resources to help Marylanders who are living close to or in poverty navigate the civil legal system. The Hon. Mary Ellen Barbera, chief judge on the Maryland Court of Appeals, and Mary T. Keating, president of MVLS’ board of directors, presented the awards during the “Celebrate Pro Bono” reception at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. Mayor Catherine E. Pugh attended the event to congratulate the award winners and shared her gratitude for their work throughout the state.
“It was an honor to be among so many professionals who give up their free time to help Marylanders who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to hire an attorney for their civil legal challenges,” commented Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. “I look forward to hearing more about the great work Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Services does for our Maryland communities.”
“Celebrate Pro Bono” Award Recipients
Volunteer of the Year: Deborah Devan, Attorney at Law
MVLS presents this annual award to a volunteer lawyer who has contributed the most to its pro bono program through either individual client representation or expansion of the delivery of pro bono legal services. Ms. Deborah (Debbie) Devan, was selected for her support at MVLS’ weekly Consumer Protection Clinic and willingness to always take available cases. In addition to the work she has provided to MVLS’ clients facing consumer issues, Ms. Devan has shared her expertise with others as a presenter at the MVLS Self Help Bankruptcy Clinic throughout the year.
Law Firm of the Year: Mulinazzi Law Office
With this award, MVLS recognizes the law firm that has provided significant services to the organization’s clients either by representing many individuals or using significant firm resources for one client. The Mulinazzi Law Office was recognized because of its representation of clients in contested family law cases, presentations at MVLS volunteer trainings, recruitment of new volunteers and acting as an in-house resource in family law matters.
Partnership of the Year: The Hogan Lovells Firm
MVLS gives this award to individuals or organizations that have uniquely contributed to the mission of MVLS. The Hogan Lovells Firm received this award because its lawyers have “adopted” the Center for Urban Families (CFUF) bi-monthly expungement clinic.
Young Lawyer of the Year: William Buschur, Attorney at Law
This inaugural award recognizes a young attorney who contributes a significant amount of time to help low-income Marylanders. Mr. Buschur was honored for his willingness to support MVLS’ many expungement clinics, including the new Wicomico Cyber Clinic, and leveraging information technology (IT) to expand the reach of MVLS’ services.
20 Year Volunteer Award
This award acknowledges exceptional volunteers who have accepted at least one case every year for 20 consecutive years.
- Erika Slater, The Law Offices of Erika F. Slater, LLC
10 Year Volunteer Award
This award acknowledges exceptional volunteers who have accepted at least one case every year for 10 consecutive years.
- Christina Alfonsi, Law Office of Christina M. Alfonsi
- Gary Brooks, Law Offices of Gary M. Brooks, LLC
- Natalie Collins, The Law Office of Natalie T. Collins
- James C. Olson, Attorney and Counselor at Law
- Steven Wilder, WGK Law
MVLS celebrates all of the attorneys on its volunteer panel and features them in its annual report. Volunteers who took more than 10 cases in the past year, are recognized on the organization’s website.
About Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS)
With a mission to provide access to justice for all, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) serves Maryland’s low-income residents by offering counseling and full representation for civil legal cases. Founded in 1981, MVLS matches clients with volunteer lawyers who represent them in a wide range of consumer and family situations, including foreclosure, bankruptcy, income tax disputes, landlord/tenant disputes, denial of public benefits, wills, divorce/custody and deed changes. For more information about MVLS and to connect with the organization, visit www.mvlslaw.org.