“When I first moved to Baltimore in the 1980’s, the Reagan administration was trying to defund legal services organizations. Even during that difficult time and since, Maryland Legal Aid (MLA) has grown in all areas, including consumer law. I began in the Housing/Consumer Law Unit in MLA’s Baltimore City Office working daily on low income utility, foreclosure, repossession, and debt collection issues with two other attorneys in the office. Those first few years continue to be a source of inspiration for me today as I look at the possibilities to effectuate a positive outcome for my clients.
I really enjoy my work because consumer law is dynamic; constantly changing and pushing me to be creative and more thoughtful in my work. I love being a resource to the consumer law community and my colleagues at MLA. I work hard to meet the needs of vulnerable clients on the edge of losing their homes so that I can play a part in maintaining the stability of Baltimore’s communities.
A few years ago, a young woman came to us after she had had filed for bankruptcy on her own by watching a YouTube video. And although she had done a really wonderful job, her downfall, unknown to her, was that her landlord — a particularly nasty fellow, took advantage of the fact that she was unrepresented and told her he could no longer accept her rent and because she had filed bankruptcy her Section 8 lease would be terminated. He then sued her. She felt forced to move under this pressure and ultimately she lost her housing voucher.
This woman was doing everything possible to keep herself and her children from being homeless but things looked grim. Our office immediately got involved and we were quickly able to reinstate the client’s Section 8 voucher but the landlord would not dismiss his lawsuit. We went to court arguing a violation of bankruptcy code and although my client was not a person prone to showing her emotions, as she testified to the Court, she was brought tears. Our trial took almost three days but at the end, the Judge saw through the landlord’s malicious actions, and admired our client’s resilience to keep her family safe.
The Judge found violations of the Discharge Order, awarded our client actual and punitive damages and attorney’s fees for our office–a wonderful result for our deserving client! For me, the reward was seeing a person treated with dignity who could move forward to live a life she worked hard to build.
Every client that I work with needs to feel that she or he really has choices in how they want their life to proceed. In many homes in low income communities, there is a sense that someone else will make decisions for them about their financial wellbeing and future. I show them that we are on their side and will work tirelessly to put the power back into their hands.”