Summer Savings! Get unlimited digital access for 13 weeks for $13.
Readers Respond
News Opinion Readers Respond

Professionalism Center a key part of Md. legal landscape

As the executive director of the Maryland Professionalism Center, I was drawn to The Sun's June 10th op-ed- piece titled "Justice delayed in Maryland," which promised a commentary on the potential prejudice to litigants caused by the Maryland Court of Appeals' delay in deciding the cases before it. I was puzzled, however, by the writers' charge of an "aggressive semi-political agenda" on the part of the Court of Appeals with regard to the Maryland Professionalism Center.

To promote professional ideals, the court established the Maryland Professionalism Center (formerly the Maryland Professionalism Commission). The center's work is far from controversial. The Professionalism Center is governed by a volunteer board of directors, chaired by Court of Appeals Judge Lynne Battaglia, and has two full time employees: me, and my administrative assistant. Sustained by a modest yearly assessment of $5 to all Maryland lawyers which will go into effect on July 1, 2013, the center has trained over 3,500 new lawyers during the professionalism course. As these new lawyers enter practice, the center offers a mentoring program that has matched hundreds of new attorneys with experienced practitioners, including one of the op-ed's authors. Feedback from these initiatives is overwhelmingly positive.

Next year the center will host a symposium on emerging issues in the legal profession, including the approaching retirement of a generation of baby boomer lawyers and mandatory continuing legal education, a requirement adopted by 46 states in order to keep lawyers current in a fast moving legal environment. By stressing professionalism at the outset of legal careers and monitoring it throughout, the court, through the Professionalism Center, has enhanced the culture of lawyering and promoted continuing civility among practitioners.

The Professionalism Center strives to identify and address a litany of concerns shared by the American legal community. For example, the court's encouragement of pro bono legal services ("for the public good") reflects the Bar's commitment to providing representation to indigent persons at no cost. Pro bono work does often involve representation of unpopular clients. Diligently representing such controversial clients, however, stands to the highest ideals of the legal profession. Likewise, the "civil Gideon" movement seeks to provide counsel to low-income citizens in civil cases at public expense where a litigant's basic human needs are at stake, such as those involving health, safety, shelter or child custody. Access to justice is and should always be a core concern of the court.

At a time when the public's impression of lawyers is often negative, the Professionalism Center is committed to ensuring that the practice of law remains a high calling, focused on serving clients and promoting the administration of justice, as well as the public good.

Monise A. Brown, Annapolis

The writer is executive director of the Maryland Professionalism Center.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Justice delayed in Maryland

    Justice delayed in Maryland

    Priority of the state's new top judge must be a return to the tradition of promptly filed opinions

  • Baltimore needs BRT

    Baltimore needs BRT

    Recently, Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford announced that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) should be considered as an alternative instead of the now-shelved Red Line light rail system ("Who knew Hogan, Rutherford were such transit geeks," July 15). Why? Costs. Light rail is extremely expensive — to the tune of...

  • Orioles: No gnomes, please

    Orioles: No gnomes, please

    In light of the Orioles recent near-death spiral, many fans have pinned the blame on the Buck Showalter Garden Gnome giveaway ("Buck Showalter garden gnome briefly causes long lines at Camden Yards," June 28). True, their record since the promotion has been dismal and Buck Showalter was warned...

  • Baltimore remains a fiber desert

    Baltimore remains a fiber desert

    Like Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's Smarter Baltimore draft report, the commentary, "Broadband for Baltimore" (July 27), has solid recommendations for building high speed Internet in Baltimore. But like that report, it ignores the principal reason that Baltimore City doesn't have broadband. Verizon's...

  • The evil of Iran

    The evil of Iran

    We sat 5,000-plus strong in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in the District of Columbia for three intense days of Christians United For Israel (CUFI) 10th summit on July 12-14. We came from all across the nation (including 95 members from other countries and 500 college students). We...

  • Iran deal — war now or war later

    Iran deal — war now or war later

    In its recent editorial, The Sun adopts President Barack Obama's primary argument in favor of the Iran deal — that the only choice is the deal or war ("A 'good enough' agreement," July 24). No one wants war. But the choice here is not war or no war. It is war now or war later.

  • Trump is the anti-politician

    Trump is the anti-politician

    Why are the press and both political parties so upset that Donald Trump is running for president ("The Trump lesson that Bush and Clinton should heed," July 27)? Could it be that he does not need someone else's money so the Democratic National Committee, GOP, George Soros or big business can't...

  • Gun laws aren't enforced

    Gun laws aren't enforced

    The people screaming for more gun control and more gun laws and all the other useless ideas should be finding out why the laws now in place are not being enforced. The last maniac to shoot up a theater should have never been able to purchase a gun but evidently some judge did not do her job ("Gunman...

Comments
Loading
73°