EASTON — Two Mid-Shore Pro Bono attorney volunteers, Peter Cotter and Jimmy Persels, have been selected to receive Maryland Pro Bono Service Awards from the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland. Each year, the center recognizes individuals, organizations and projects that have made significant contributions to the delivery of pro bono civil legal services to Maryland's low-income residents.
Peter Cotter will receive the Alex Fee Award, sponsored by the Young Lawyers Section. The award is presented to one of the section's members who is making a significant pro bono contribution either directly or through a pro bono organization.
Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., Cotter lives in Easton and is with the firm Hollis, Cronan, Fronk & Gras, P.A. Volunteering at Mid-Shore Pro Bono's Civil Legal Clinic, he also accepts referred cases on a pro bono basis, and directly assists the organization's staff. Cotter has contributed more than 260 volunteer service hours to Mid-Shore Pro Bono and its clients over the past two years.
Cotter expressed his appreciation for the recognition, and said, "It is great to be associated with a place like Mid-Shore Pro Bono, where we can help people with absolutely no access to legal advice." He emphasized the need to ensure people know there are resources available to them and that they have somewhere to turn.
Mid-Shore Pro Bono Executive Director Sandy Brown said it is fitting to have Jimmy Persels honored along with Cotter, as Persels mentored Cotter and worked with him in the clinics when Cotter first began volunteering soon after being admitted to the bar.
Persels will receive the Retired Pro Bono Volunteer Award for individuals making significant pro bono contributions while retired. He lives in Centreville and is retired from his own firm, Persels & Associates LLC.
Since he began volunteering at Mid-Shore Pro Bono's Easton clinic in 2010, Persels has provided more than 164 hours of legal services to the organization. He helped expand the clinic to Queen Anne's County, serving as its resident attorney. Persels offers access to justice for clients without transportation by making the clinic available by phone on a case-by-case basis.
"I am honored and very humbled to receive individual recognition from among the many Maryland attorneys who annually provide well over one million hours of pro bono service to the citizens of the state in an ongoing effort to provide equal access to justice," said Persels.
"Being recognized by the Maryland State Bar Association's pro bono arm validates all that we do for our local residents," said Brown. "While we have a small panel of attorney volunteers, relatively speaking, their contributions far exceed those of attorneys in larger regions." Persels commended Pro Bono Resource Center, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service and Mid-Shore Pro Bono for their effective organization and administration of the pro bono network which, he said, sets the table for attorneys to do their work.
"As an attorney who has retired from active practice," Persels said, "I would especially encourage other retired attorneys to engage with the pro bono network and continue to use their training and experience for public good."
The Maryland Pro Bono Service Awards will be presented at the Maryland State Bar Association's Annual Meeting in Ocean City on June 15.
For more information or to make a donation, call Mid-Shore Pro Bono at 410-690-8128 or visit www.midshoreprobono.org.