Referral and Information Service
The Lawyer Referral and Information Service is a public service of the Anne Arundel
Bar Association. The service was first established in
response to requests by middle income persons for assistance in obtaining
appropriate legal counsel. The Lawyer Referral and Information Service
is designed to assist persons who are able to pay normal attorney fees
but whose ability to locate appropriate legal representation is frustrated
by a lack of experience with the legal system, a lack of information
about the type of service needed, or a fear of the potential costs of
seeing a lawyer. The Lawyer Referral and Information Service offers two important services
to the public. First, it helps the client determine if the problem is
truly of a legal nature by screening inquiries and referring the client
to other service agencies when appropriate. The second, and perhaps
more important, function of a lawyer referral service is to provide
the client with an unbiased referral to an attorney who has experience
in the area of law appropriate to the client's needs. The public has
come to equate the function of lawyer referral programs with consumer-oriented
assistance, and expects that the loyalty of the program will lie with
the consumer, and only secondarily with the participating attorney.
Angel Tree Program
Each year, the members of the Anne Arundel County Bar Association sponsor
an Angel Tree to provide holiday gifts for the children of Admiral Oaks,
one of the state capital's poorer neighborhoods. Last year, more than 80 children
received bundles of gifts from their holiday "angels" providing
them with clothing, backpacks, school supplies and lots of toys. The
children's names (along with their age, size and favorite color) are
put on angel-shaped cards and place on the "angel tree" in
the lobby of the AA County Circuit Court. Attorneys and courthouse staff
members selected cards and bought gifts for that child. The gifts are
then distributed by the bar president and the Anne Arundel County Court Administrator
at an evening holiday party.
In 2003, the AABA introduced a program dedicated to providing disadvantaged
children with free school supplies. The program was a resounding success,
raising more than $4,000 in individual attorney donations in the first year. Working in
cooperation with the Annapolis Office Depot, the AABA is able to provide
about 500 backpacks full of school supplies to children in Anne Arundel County each year.
Thanksgiving Dinner Donations
Each year, the AABA also holds a campaign among its members to raise funds
to provide Thanksgiving dinners to families in Annapolis and northwestern
Anne Arundel County. Funds are raised to provide Thanksgiving baskets
with a turkey and all of the trimmings to more than 300 families each year. Thanks
to the generous participation of Graul's Markets, all dinners are delivered
to the families on the morning of the Wednesday before Thanksgiving
in time for them to prepare dinner in their own homes.
For four years in a row, the Foundation has sponsored an Essay Contest
among high school students in Anne Arundel County. The contest is
open to all public or private high school students grades 9-12 and home-schooled
students corresponding to the same grade levels. Over the years, more
than 800 students from 11 county high schools have submitted essays
on topics such as the First Amendment and drug testing in public schools;
the First Amendment and the installation of Internet filtering software
on computers at public libraries that receive federal funding; and the
First Amendment and freedom of speech in public schools.
All participating students receive a certificate from the Bar Foundation.
At a special ceremony, the top three essay contest winners are honored
with prizes of $500, $250 and $100 respectively.
The essay program continues through the generous collaboration of Tim
and Kathleen Meredith.
Each spring, the Anne Arundel County Bar Foundation holds its annual
fundraiser. AABA members and their guests share
in the fun and help to support a very deserving charitable organization
that was started by members of the Anne Arundel Bar in 1997 -- the Anne
Arundel Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), whose trained volunteers
work to give a voice for a child's best interest in court and to make
a meaningful difference in the life of a foster child. Since 2003, the Foundation has raised more than $110,000 to support CASA initiatives.
As lawyers, we are committed to the principles of integrity, fairness
and justice. We endeavor to teach respect for the law, respect for others
and respect for self. We believe it is important to teach others and
reach out to the community in which we live and work. The Mock Trial
program is designed to foster a cooperation and develop a respect and
understanding between today's students and members of the Bar. It's
about teaching tomorrow's generation about the principles and practices
of our profession and the challenges and opportunities of today's world.
Each school is asked to work with their assigned attorneys to customize
each program, which can include: mock trial , speakers-in-the-schools,
DWI seminars, first car purchase talks and tours of the courthouses.
Each winter, the Maryland State Bar Association High School Mock Trial
Competition is held. Over the years, hundreds of AABA member attorneys
have generously volunteered their time as coaches and judges for the
competitions. The program provides an array of opportunities to for
the student to further their understanding and appreciate for the law,
court procedures and the legal system.
Family Waiting Room
It is the children who are likely to suffer the most as victims or witnesses
of crime. Having already experienced the crime itself, they are then
thrown into the judicial system. A daunting place for most adults, the
courtroom can be especially intimidating for children. Even when they
are only spectators, children may feel, and often are, out of place
in the courtroom. Frequently, adult victims or witnesses lack money
or time to arrange for child care and are forced to bring their children
with them to court. The children are expected to sit quietly and still
for extended periods in the courtroom, or
be left unsupervised in a courthouse corridor.
The Family Waiting Room in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County
is a safe place for kids to wait. The room provides games, toys and
activities within a colorful, friendly environment. This project is
for the community and its services are not available for use by the
courthouse personnel, staff attorneys or jurors.
In 2000, the board of directors of the Anne Arundel County Bar Foundation
saw a great unmet need in the courthouse and decided to financially
support the Family Waiting Room as a service to the community.