Maryland’s Court of Appeals urges attorneys to provide “pro bono publico” (for the benefit of the public) assistance to persons of limited means, to assist in the fight to protect the rights of historically disadvantaged groups and to assist in the overall improvement of the legal system as a whole – at no charge or at a very substantially reduced charge. We are urged to spend 50 hours per year, i.e about 1 hour per week, assisting in these important activities. Most of us don’t meet that goal, but all of us should try to provide that pro bono help or at least to provide financial support to the lawyers and agencies that do provide these services as their main purpose (e.g. Legal Aid, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, so many pro bono agencies working on a shoestring, etc.)
As noted elsewhere, my firm dedicates a substantial portion of its time to assisting unemployed workers, almost all of whom are by definition persons of “limited means” – if you just lost your job, your means probably just got limited severely. However, our firm ordinarily does charge for our services in unemployment representation, subject to the regulations that protect workers from unfair or excessive legal fees.
Sometimes an attorney cannot afford to represent a worker, particularly a worker who comes to our office late in the appeals process, after the Board of Appeals has issued a final ruling and Circuit Court is the only remaining appeal route. What we can do, however, is to make it easier for such workers slightly to represent themselves and preserve their appeal rights, either while they arrange for funds to retain an attorney or to represent themselves if they so choose.
Many workers receive the proper advice that appeals (technically, petitions for judicial review) of Maryland agency decisions including decisions of the Division of Unemployment Insurance have to be filed in Circuit Court timely pursuant to Rule 7-202. In the age of the internet, many workers conduct their own research online to try to find out how to represent themselves in these cases, or at least to preserve their appeal rights timely and properly. The most popular website for free legal research in Maryland is probably www.michie.com, but Michie’s layout for Rule 7-202 is not particularly helpful. In that Rule, the Maryland Court of Appeals provided a suggested layout for petitions for judicial review, but due to limitations of the internet the Rule and form do not render very well on the internet. The paper volume containing Rule 7-202 is reasonably clear, but the electronic format online at Michie does not mesh well with internet formatting.
Accordingly I am happy to provide a sample form for no charge for those who would like to file their own unemployment petitions for judicial review in Maryland courts. The form’s layout complies with the substance of Rule 7-202 but contains additional formatting and content that the Rule or Circuit Court clerks require find helpful, specifically for unemployment appeals. I did not provide a fill-in-the-blank form for ethical and professional responsibility reasons, but I hope that the form may be useful to workers and private practitioners new to this practice area. Additionally, the form contains a required ethical disclosure that an attorney outside the case assisted in the preparation of the form.
There is no fee or other license requirement for the use or copying of the form; anyone may do so for any reason. I would request that anyone using the form for any purpose drop me a line at godfrey @ jezicfirm.com (changed: May 2017), but this is not a requirement. I would also request that any practicing lawyer using the form either take one case pro bono or make a donation in the amount of a quarter of his or her billable hour, or one hour’s pay rate, to a suitable pro bono organization, but this is NOT a requirement or condition.
Again, this is not a requirement for using the form, just a request that you say “Hi” and that you help the greater pro bono effort if you are a lawyer. Thank you in advance to everyone, including especially any attorneys helping in pro bono efforts. This is NOT an offer of pro bono representation generally. To get the form, please email me at the address given above.