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community programs

Lawyer 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.


Back-to-School Backpacks
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.


Essay Contest
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.


Barrister's Ball
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.


Adopt-a-School
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.


Mock Trial
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.

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