Judiciary launches center to focus on professionalism in legal community and courts

The Maryland Judiciary has established the Maryland Professionalism Center to serve as the hub for legal professionalism efforts in the state. The Maryland Professionalism Center is a court-related agency that replaces the Judiciary’s Commission on Professionalism.

The center creates and manages programs that promote civility, collegiality and respect among legal professionals, and that encourage judges and lawyers to support and enhance the public’s trust in the legal community.

“The center builds on the significant progress made by the Judiciary’s Commission on Professionalism,” Chief Judge Robert M. Bell said. “Under the excellent leadership of Court of Appeals Judge Lynne A. Battaglia, the commission laid the groundwork by exhaustively examining the issues, then implementing programs such as a mentoring program and professionalism course for new attorneys and developing core “ideals of professionalism,” which are now part of the Maryland Rules. It is through efforts such as these that we help to ensure public trust and confidence in the Maryland Judiciary, its judges, and the lawyers who practice in our state.”

Court of Appeals Judge Lynne Battaglia
Court of Appeals Judge Lynne Battaglia
chairs the board of directors of the
Maryland Professionalism Center

Maryland Rule 16-407, which the Court of Appeals recently adopted, establishes that each Maryland lawyer will contribute $5 per year towards the Maryland Professionalism Center from the assessment collected through the Client Protection Fund. The funding will be used to provide resources for attorneys in the area of professionalism, including course development for judges, lawyers, and courthouse personnel. Next spring, the center will host a symposium on issues that affect the legal community, and attorneys will be invited to weigh in on issues such as mandatory continuing legal education and the civil right to counsel. Through the center’s website, attorneys will be able to access updated materials and articles on professional development, and be linked to national programs through the American Bar Association and other professionalism centers across the nation.

“Law requires an immensely high level of commitment, and professionalism is a cornerstone of that commitment. It has been a privilege to move the effort forward,” Judge Battaglia said. “As an independent, self-sustaining organization, the Maryland Professionalism Center can focus on training opportunities and long-term goals to promote ongoing, improved professionalism within the Maryland bench and bar.”

The center will continue to conduct the professionalism course for new attorneys as well as the state-wide mentoring program. The most recent professionalism course was held May 22-23 in Annapolis.

Recently, Judge Bell appointed a board of directors to oversee the Maryland Professionalism Center and serve as chairs for subcommittees. The board includes: Judge Lynne Battaglia, Court of Appeals, chair; Judge Angela Eaves, Circuit Court for Harford County; Judge Kathryn Graeff, Court of Special Appeals; Dean Phoebe Haddon, Esq., University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law; Ronald Jarashow, Esq., Baldwin, Kagan & Gormley; Judge Frank Kratovil, District Court for Queen Anne’s County; Thomas Lynch, III, Esq., Miles & Stockbridge; Leigh Melton, Esq., Parker, Counts, Melton & Goodman; Thomas Murphy, Esq., Murphy & Wood; Paul Mark Sandler, Esq., Shapiro, Sher, Guinot & Sandler; Norman Smith Esq., Fisher & Winner; Dean Ronald Weich, Esq., University of Baltimore School of Law; and Alexander Williams, III, Esq., Timothy S. Smith & Associates.

For more information about the professionalism course or mentoring program, contact Monise Brown, Maryland Professionalism Center executive director, 410-260-3762, mdprofessionalism@mdcourts.gov. The Maryland Professionalism Center exhibited at the Maryland State Bar Conference June 12-15 at the Clarion Resort and Conference Center in Ocean City.