Get unlimited digital access to baltimoresun.com. $0.99 for 4 weeks.
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

  • Don't send $1B to Central America
    Don't send $1B to Central America

    The Obama administration has a plan to pour $1 billion of U.S. taxpayer money into Central America "to try to slow the flow of unaccompanied minors and other migrants without documentation" to the U.S. ("Democrats press Kerry on $1B Latin aid request," Feb. 25). Just wondering, wouldn't $1...

  • Md. needs more clean energy
    Md. needs more clean energy

    Maryland currently ranks fifth in the nation for worst air quality and produces over 60 percent of its energy from dirty sources like coal and natural gas. Immediately after his inauguration, Gov. Larry Hogan rolled back coal regulations that would have greatly improved air quality conditions...

  • Keystone veto was in U.S. interest
    Keystone veto was in U.S. interest

    The purpose of the Keystone XL pipeline is to make it easier for Canada to export some of filthiest crude oil on the planet — not to the U.S. (we don't need it) but to other countries.

  • Another drug abuse study waiting to be ignored
    Another drug abuse study waiting to be ignored

    I find it amusing that the Hogan administration is proposing a "study" to combat heroin addiction in Maryland ("The new face of Md.'s fight against heroin," Feb. 26).

  • Why can't Coke and Pepsi back a water tax repeal?
    Why can't Coke and Pepsi back a water tax repeal?

    Robi Rawl's commentary, "Repeal water tax" (Feb. 23), was a pithy pitch for making water more prominent in our lives, especially given the harm caused by sugary drink consumption.

  • Standardized tests didn't help me learn
    Standardized tests didn't help me learn

    I am a senior at Dulaney High School and write with a special note of concern toward the average testing of 8th grade children ("Debate rages over how many hours Maryland students should be tested each year," Nov. 15).

  • Cold, hard facts about infrastructure
    Cold, hard facts about infrastructure

    We can now add bursting residential water pipes and thousands of homes without water to ruptured water mains and traffic jams, to chunks of concrete crashing down from slowly collapsing bridges and to the other proof that our infrastructure is falling apart ("Residents' frustration mounts...

Comments
Loading