Pro bono groups transition to remote services amid virus outbreak
Despite the challenges of court closures and mandatory work-from-home policies being incorporated in response to the coronavirus outbreak, pro bono groups in Baltimore have begun implementing remote services to stay connected with clients in need of free legal aid.
For many of these organizations, it means switching to phone calls and online methods such as video calls and emails to connect staff attorneys with low-income and homeless clients who want to stay up to date with their court hearings, many of which are being postponed due to the courts’ closing.
“We’re adjusting to the new reality,” said Antonia Fasanelli, executive director of the Homeless Persons Representation Project in Baltimore. “If people were on a list to see us, we’re contacting them directly by phone or email, and saying let’s talk about the legal issue over the phone, and then we’ll email case documents.”
Normally, HPRP offers in-person services at shelters, soup kitchens and courthouses, among other locations throughout the state. With many places now closed, HPRP, like other nonprofits such as Maryland Legal Aid, has posted instructions on the door for how clients can reach the office by phone or online.