Application for Legal Services

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Click here for a Word version of the application for services.

HOW TO APPLY FOR LEGAL SERVICES

Please read these instructions carefully before submitting an application:

For questions and to submit a completed application call 410-366-0922 x 113 to speak with Ingrid Hitchens, Senior Paralegal, Community Law Center, Inc.

Applying for legal assistance: In order to work with an attorney through Community Law Center, the organization must complete this Application for Legal Services and provide the requested organizational documents (see page 4 of application for a list of required documents). All information will remain confidential. Please let us know when you submit an application by fax or mail so that we can be on the lookout for it. If you do not hear from us within one week of sending the application, please contact us to ensure that the application was received.

Accepting applications: Community Law Center retains complete discretion as to which applicants it accepts. Completing an application does not automatically qualify your organization for legal assistance. We are unable to accept cases involving homeowners association (HOA) covenants enforcement or HOA fee collection. Cases involving litigation or with quickly approaching deadlines are difficult to place and may not be accepted – please apply as early as possible for cases involving litigation or with court or administrative hearings and deadlines so that we have the best chance of finding an attorney. Community Law Center makes no guarantee that, upon acceptance of your application, we will be able to locate an attorney to take your case. However, we have a long history of successfully matching organizations with attorneys.

Completed applications: The application is not complete until you provide a completed application form, a signed affidavit of eligibility, all requested information, and pay the nonrefundable application fee for each legal issue. If the organization is applying for assistance with starting a nonprofit, a Board member must attend the How to Start a Nonprofit workshop before the application will be considered complete.

Finding an attorney: Once an application is accepted by Community Law Center, we will seek an appropriate staff or volunteer attorney to match with the organization. Finding a match takes an average of four weeks after all information has been received. If your case involves a deadline less than four weeks from the date of application, please make a note in the application.

Conflict check: If the case involves another nonprofit organization or a property (e.g. development, nuisance issue, liquor licensee, zoning, etc.), Community Law Center will need to contact other the other nonprofit(s) and any community associations that include the property within their boundaries to determine whether there are any potential conflicts of interest. If a nonprofit takes an opposing stance from that of the organization applying for assistance, Community Law Center is not able to accept the case.

Retain a copy of the completed application: We recommend that you keep a copy of the completed application that is submitted to Community Law Center.

APPLICATION FEE

Prospective clients may submit their nonrefundable application fee via cash, check, money order or PayPal. Application fees are per legal issue and based on the organization’s annual budget. The application fee is non-refundable.  The application fee covers administrative costs and does not pay for the attorney’s time.  The attorney’s time is offered pro bono unless other arrangements are made.

START-UP MATTERS FOR NEW ORGANIZATIONS ONLY

For new organizations seeking assistance with drafting bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, and preparing applications for federal tax exemption (501(c)(3) status), the application fee is based on the size of the organization’s projected budget each year over the next three years.

Does the organization anticipate that its annual gross receipts will exceed $50,000 in any of the next 3 years?

The application fee includes one registration for our How to Start a Nonprofit Organization in Maryland workshop. Attendance at this workshop is mandatory before placement of a case with an attorney. The workshop must be completed within six months of submitting the Application for Legal Services.

EXISTING ORGANZIATIONS ONLY

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE APPLICATION IS SUBMITTED?

An overview of Community Law Center’s application process

Step 1. Potential client organization submits a completed Application for Legal Services (including all relevant information and application fee) to Community Law Center. Applicants should keep a copy of their application for their records and retain this page for future reference.

Step 2. Community Law Center staff reviews the application for completeness and requests additional information if necessary, and performs a check for any potential conflicts of interest if the case involves another nonprofit or a property within the boundaries of a community association. The amount of time it takes to process an application depends on the potential client organization’s timely response to our requests for more information. If an application remains incomplete and/or the potential client is not responsive to requests for additional information, Community Law Center reserves the right to close the application and any further action will require a new application and fee.

Step 3. Once application is fully complete, the application is reviewed and a determination is made regarding whether or not the case will be accepted. If the case is not accepted, the client will be notified. Community Law Center does not guarantee that every application will be accepted and retains the right to turn away potential cases.

Step 4. Once a case is accepted by Community Law Center, the case will be assigned to a staff attorney or a pro bono (volunteer) attorney. If the case is assigned to a staff attorney, the staff attorney will contact the client and begin representation. If a volunteer attorney is sought, the case may be advertised to potential volunteer attorneys on an every-other-week basis. Staff will continue to post the case for up to two months. Community Law Center does not guarantee that every case will be placed. It typically takes four weeks for a volunteer attorney to be located.

Step 5. If a volunteer attorney expresses interest in a case, Community Law Center staff will provide him or her with additional information and a conflict check will be performed by the pro bono attorney.

Step 6. If a volunteer attorney agrees to take the case, the client will be notified. An assignment letter with information about the case and contact information will be sent to the volunteer attorney and the client.

Step 7. The client and the volunteer attorney work together on the case. Community Law Center staff will then step back and are available to both the client and the volunteer attorney as needed. Community Law Center staff will seek updates on the case approximately every six months until the case is completed.