The Advocate | Spring 2019

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ADVOCATE VOLUME 33 , NUMBER 3 - Spring 2019


TABLE OF CONTENTS 3 Message from the Chair 5 Featured Articles 5 Combining Efforts to Serve Those in Need: MSBA Young Lawyers Section and Pro Bono Resource Center Join Forces 6 Your Home, Your Deed, Your Legacy: Ensuring Community Stability in Baltimore City through Legal Services 11 Committee Updates 11 Activities Committee 12 Chesapeake Preservation 12 Disaster Relief 13 Membership 13 Open Meeting 14 Technology 15 Riding the Circuits 15 Frederick County 17 Announcements


MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR BY INDIRA K. SHARMA, SECTION CHAIR ( Dear YLS Members, We have such an exciting Spring planned for the Young Lawyers Section (YLS) and hope that you will join in many of the wonderful programs that will make this bar year so memorable. On April 12, 2019, we had the YLS annual Charity Event at Gertrude’s in Baltimore from 6:00 p.m. - 9:00p.m. The event was well attended. Many thanks to our amazing Co-Chairs, Lauren Lake, Jessica Gorsky, and Kelly Goebel! All proceeds from this year’s event benefited the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition. I selected CAIR Coalition as this year’s charity because I am disheartened by the separation of immigrant children from their parents that occurred last year under the family separation and “zero tolerance” immigration policies. Our country is one that has been built by immigrants and that has always provided a safe home for those immigrants seeking asylum, but now, more than ever, immigrants are being threatened. CAIR Coalition is a non-profit that strives to ensure equal justice for all immigrant men, women and children who are at risk of detention and deportation. The work of CAIR Coalition is incredibly important in this current political climate and YLS is proud to support this great organization.

On May 2-4, 2019, the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Young Lawyers Division (YLD) will be having its Spring Conference in Washington, D.C. at the Washington Marriott Georgetown with programming across Washington, D.C., including at the Supreme Court and Library of Congress. Our very own Chris Jennison (YLS Executive Committee Member-at-Large and ABA Representative) and Josephine Bahn (YLS Membership Co-Chair and Disaster Relief Co-Chair) are serving as Co-Chairs of the D.C. Host Committee for the YLD Conference. Attending an ABA YLD Conference is a great introduction to the ABA and provides an excellent opportunity to start building your professional network with young attorneys across the country. I will be attending the ABA YLD Conference in Washington, D.C. with several others and hope that you will consider joining us as well. If you would like to connect with others from the Maryland State Bar Association who are attending in advance, please reach out to me. I wish to also take this opportunity to congratulate Chris Jennison and Josephine Bahn on the arrival of their beautiful baby girl, Ruth Eleanor Jennison born on March 22, 2019! We are thrilled for the new parents and wish 3

them well as they adjust to this exciting new phase of life! I am also delighted to announce that we will be having our first ever Lawyer Wellness Retreat on Friday, May 17, 2019 at the Sheraton in Columbia, MD from 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. We are honored to be hosting this retreat in conjunction with the MD/DC Chapter of the Mindfulness in Law Society. This retreat is for anyone who would like to explore lasting strategies for managing the day-to-day stressors inherent in the practice of law. This retreat is for anyone who feels stressed-out, tired, uninspired, overwhelmed, or frustrated. This retreat is for anyone who is simply curious about mindfulness and meditation practice. If you have been paying attention to any of the media and mounting research in this area, you might have noticed that mindfulness and mediation is key to a happy, stress-free, healthy life, and practice of law. We will have experts

teaching important mindfulness, yoga, and meditation techniques. We invite you to discover a world of peace in one inspiring afternoon! This retreat is not to be missed and we are offering it free to the first 50 registrants! Please register today to ensure your spot. These are just a few of the major events we have coming up this Spring. Of course, we have a very hardworking Section Council that continues to plan many other important educational, networking, public service, and pro bono events throughout the year. Additional information and registration for all of the above events and additional YLS events is available on the MSBA website or you can feel free to reach out to me anytime. I look forward to seeing you soon at one or more of our programs! Warm regards, Indira



MSBA YOUNG LAWYERS SECTION AND PRO BONO RESOURCE CENTER JOIN FORCES By: Dave Pantzer, Esq.1 ( Over the1 past few years, the MSBA Young Lawyers Section (YLS) and the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland (PBRC) have worked together to provide and enable significant pro bono service to Marylanders in need. YLS has cosponsored key PBRC trainings, and has worked with several of PBRC’s clinics, to get young lawyers involved in this important work. PBRC serves as the pro bono arm of the MSBA, providing support, training, mentoring, and referrals to any Maryland attorney seeking to provide pro bono service. In recent years, YLS has helped recruit volunteers for estate planning clinics for low-income seniors in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, and YLS members have also participated in immigration intakes for unaccompanied children. Each of the clinics is run by PBRC, in partnership with other legal services organizations, and each provides invaluable help for those in need, as well as service-learning opportunities for newer lawyers. “Young lawyers are looking for ways to serve the community,” says Indira K. Sharma, Chair of the Young Lawyers Section. “PBRC provides training and mentoring, and they match our members

with pro bono tailored to their interests.” Ms. Sharma is a partner in the Baltimore office of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, LLP and also serves on PBRC’s Board of Directors. YLS has co-sponsored several of PBRC’s live trainings in various parts of the state. In 2018, PBRC launched new skills-based training initiatives, including a comprehensive training on Civil Practice and Procedure in Maryland’s District Courts, and a series of Litigation Skills Lunch & Learn events throughout the state. YLS co-sponsored these offerings, as well as two recent immigration asylum trainings. To register for live or recorded trainings, visit: The co-chairs of the YLS pro bono committee, Maya Zegarra and Madonna Lebling, along with YLS member Christian Noble, were awarded the Alex Fee Memorial Award at the 2018 Maryland Pro Bono Service Awards in Ocean City, MD for their outstanding pro bono work in the area of immigration advocacy. Ms. Zegarra serves as a staff attorney with Ayuda, and Ms. Lebling serves as a staff attorney with the Bar Association of Baltimore City’s Senior Legal Services program.

1 Mr. Pantzer is the PBRC Director of Education, Outreach, and Technology.



By Olivia R. Holcombe-Volke (, Partner, Elville & Associates, P.C. and Richard (Ricky) Adams (, Associate, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, LLP1 Understanding the intricacies and applications of estate planning and administration, and how it may impact individuals and families, is important for all adults2, regardless of age or level of wealth. Complicated issues may arise – and often do – regardless of how much wealth is at stake. These complications are much more likely when there is a lack of proper estate planning. More important than considerations of wealth or the financial value of an asset is whether one’s wishes are followed. Estate planning helps control asset and health management decisions while alive, set forth end-of-life wishes, and ultimately dictate how one’s estate is administered and assets are distributed upon death. Proper planning and awareness of the options can help ensure peace of mind during life, and simplify the process after death, which is equally important to people at all asset levels.

It is common, particularly in Baltimore City, for homeowners to die without an estate plan to dictate what happens to their house, and for the surviving family members to fail to have the necessary information, awareness and funds to administer the deceased homeowner’s estate. These factors often result in situations where the intended or default beneficiary of the house – often a family member who has been living there for years – is not the owner of record, and is therefore ineligible for certain property tax exemptions and home repair assistance. For low-income individuals, this can be particularly devastating, at worst resulting in the complete loss of the property through tax sale. Planning for the transfer of ownership to the next generation (or whomever the intended beneficiaries may be), and ensuring such transfer of ownership actually takes place after someone dies, is vital for the stability of families and communities.

One of the biggest issues that can result from a lack of estate planning, and, often, the corresponding lack of estate administration, is the legal ownership of property, and the impact this can have on the stability of local communities. This is especially true for real property.


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The first step is to prepare a list of assets, how they are titled, and their current value. Beneficiary designations should also be included. It is also important to create a list of debts and liabilities,

The authors are Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service CAN (Community Advocacy Network) members. For the purposes of this article, anyone 18 or older.


and how/by whom they are obligated. The second step, which is often much more difficult, is to determine how, and by whom, health and financial decisions should be handled during one’s lifetime, and how assets should be distributed at death. Next, it is time to create the plan. First, a caveat. There are many, many estate planning options available, with varying levels of relevance and application depending on the size, type, and details of an estate. However, this article primarily addresses the estate planning that is most appropriate and most important for individuals who seek (or need) the assistance of pro bono legal services – that is, clients who have lower asset levels, primarily limited to a checking account, a car, and a house. The following documents are vital: Advance Healthcare Directive. This document allows you to appoint someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf, in the event you are unable to do so. It also allows you to provide guidance as to your medical treatment and your end-life wishes. In the event you become mentally incapacitated, this document helps avoid the need for the appointment of a guardian of your person. Financial Power of Attorney. This document allows you to appoint someone else to handle your financial affairs on your behalf. It grants very broad powers, giving your attorney-infact the authority to do anything you can do with regard to your assets, but with the overarching duty to take such actions

only if they are in your best interest. In the event you become mentally incapacitated, this document helps avoid the need for the appointment of a guardian of your property. Last Will and Testament. This document allows you to dictate how the assets held in your name alone will be distributed upon your death. This document is also how you nominate Guardians to care for your minor children, and name a Personal Representative (sometimes called an Executor) to handle the administration of your estate. THE PROBATE PROCESS When an individual passes away, all property that is titled in that individual’s name alone – in order to transfer to and become titled in someone else’s name – must go through a court-supervised process called “probate.” In Maryland, the administration of an estate is overseen by the Orphans’ Court of the county where the decedent was domiciled upon death. The Register of Wills office acts as the Clerk of the Orphans’ Court and receives the probate filings (such as the Will, if one exists) and assists with the overall administration of the estate. The Personal Representative, whether named in the Last Will and Testament (if there is one) or otherwise (more on that later), only has authority once appointed by the Court to administer the estate. At that point, the Personal Representative is empowered to collect assets, pay debts, prepare and file the final income tax return of the decedent, and ultimately distribute the remaining assets to the legatees (named in the 7

Will) or the heirs-at-law (if no Will exists). As mentioned, the Personal Representative may be named in the Will, but if there is no Will, there is an order of precedence given to those that may be appointed to serve as Personal Representative of the estate, including a surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, and other relatives of the decedent. Even a creditor of the decedent can petition to be appointed. Depending upon the value of the estate and several other factors, a small or regular estate may be opened. Most regular estates can take nine to twelve months to open and close, depending upon the tax filings and other facts in the case. Most small estates are closed after the creditors’ claims period has expired (at most, six months after the date of death of the decedent). Claims may be filed against the estate by creditors seeking payment from the probate assets. Such claims may be made by serving the Personal Representative, filing with the Register of Wills, or by filing suit. The costs associated with administering the estate include nominal bond fees, appraisal fees for personal property, probate fees due to the Register that are calculated based on the gross value of the estate, fees paid to the newspaper for the publication of notice, and attorney’s fees. It is only at the close of the probate process that the ownership of property that was held in the decedent’s name alone can be transferred to the legatees or heirs-at-law. Such transfer

of ownership does not take place automatically, but rather must be overseen and authorized by the probate court. The existence of a Last Will and Testament does not avoid probate – naming someone in the Will to receive the funds from a bank account does not mean that that person can take the Will to the bank to collect. The instructions contained within a Will simply mean that you have put in writing how, and by whom, you wish your estate to be administered – but it is only with the authority of the probate court that this can take place. However, as mentioned, this comes with some costs, which is why it is also important, particularly for low-income individuals, to discuss the options available for avoiding probate. NON-PROBATE PROPERTY Any property that passes to another individual by operation of law is considered non-probate property. This includes any property owned jointly with rights of survivorship, or assets that have beneficiary designations, such as an IRA account, annuity, or life insurance policy. Even bank accounts can list a “payable on death” designation, thereby avoiding probate. These assets are not part of a probate estate (unless they are payable on death or beneficiary designated to the estate – which defeats the purpose of the payable on death or beneficiary designation, and is not recommended). For many simple estates, it is easier to designate the beneficiaries directly on an asset, prior to death. This way, the asset does not need to be processed 8

through the probate estate to get to the beneficiary. LIFE ESTATE DEEDS Another common vehicle to avoid probate is to execute a life estate deed on real property. This allows a property owner (called the “life estate tenant”) to name a beneficiary to receive the property at the death of the property owner, while still allowing the property owner to reside in, and enjoy, the property for the rest of the property owner’s life. When the life estate tenant

to joint ownership. If a joint owner of an asset is sued, that asset could be lost to the creditor. For example, mom should be very cautious about adding her son to her deed – because if her son gets in a car accident and gets sued, mom could be at risk of losing her house. And there is always the risk that the named recipient of a payable-on-death asset (or any other asset structured to avoid probate) will be deceased when the time comes for them to receive the asset, resulting in the asset going through probate anyway. For this reason, we still always recommend that a Last Will and Testament be in place as a safety net to dictate and control what happens to the asset(s), in case any of the probate avoidance techniques fail. And, of course, if there are minor children, the Will is necessary to name Guardians. ESTATE PLANNING MISCONCEPTIONS

dies, the property passes by operation of law to the named remainderman(men), without any need for probate. JOINT OWNERSHIP Given this, why would anyone leave assets to be subject to probate? Why wouldn’t everyone structure their assets to avoid probate? One reason is that these probate avoidance techniques have many of their own risks, and should be carefully considered. One of the most worrisome examples pertains

Why is it, then, given how important estate planning is, and given that there are so many good options for estate planning, that so many people do not have any estate planning documents at all? One reason is the common misconception that your family knows your wishes and will simply abide by them. This may be true, but it is not in any way legally binding. Also, the person you trust to know and carry out your wishes may die before you. Clients should treat estate planning documents as their voice for when they no longer can speak, both during incapacity, and after death. It is through these documents that their intent can 9

be understood and manifested, and be legally binding. Another misconception is that estate planning is only for the wealthy or privileged. That is simply not true. Estate planning is vital for everyone. Estate planning does involve a discussion of some very personal aspects of your life, such as what you want to happen should you be in a coma, who will have authority to take care of your financial affairs in the event you can no longer do so, and what happens to your home and other assets when you are gone. Often, you need to determine back-up provisions in the event your children predecease you, which is never an enjoyable thing to think about. However, it is important to keep the overarching goal in mind, which is to bring clarity and understanding to those involved, and the corresponding peace of mind. In an effort to address the common lack of estate planning and estate administration in Baltimore City, and the resulting community instability that can be caused by this, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is funding a public awareness campaign called “Homeowner: My Home, My Deed, My Legacy� with Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS). MVLS is hosting several clinics throughout Baltimore City (four are planned over the course

of 2019) to educate homeowners about the tremendous importance of estate planning, particularly with regard to the transfer of homeownership at death. The first such clinic was held on March 21 at the Langston Hughes Community Center in Park Heights. Eight volunteer attorneys worked with more than 21 pro bono clients to create their estate plans. MVLS is one of several organizations that offers legal services to those in need, including estate planning and estate administration legal assistance. The organization, in partnership with Maryland DHCD, created an online resource dedicated to estate planning and the deed recording process: In addition, an estate planning hotline is available at 443-451-4066. As members of the MVLS Community Advocacy Network (CAN), we urge you to join us in providing vital estate planning and estate administration services to our fellow Marylanders, with the guaranteed impact of increasing stability in our communities. Email us at,, and our colleague, John Kern, who is the Advance Planning Project Coordinator at MVLS,, for more information about participating in one of the Homeowner clinics or other volunteer opportunities.


COMMITTEE UPDATES ACTIVITIES COMMITTEE On April 12, 2019, the YLS hosted its annual Charity Event at Gertrude’s in Baltimore. All proceeds from the event benefited the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition. The Activities Committee thanks all of the sponsors, attendees, and those who supported this event for a successful evening that will benefit a great cause!

From left to right: YLS Chair- Indira Sharma, MSBA President-Judge Keith R. Truffer, and Kelly White of CAIR addressed the crowd.

Some of the silent auction items available for bid.


CHESAPEAKE PRESERVATION COMMITTEE During February, the MSBA YLS, Chesapeake Preservation Committee, with the help of ClearShark H2O, visited Oak Hill Elementary School, Cecil Elementary School, and Graceland Park-O’Donnell Heights Elementary School. During the visit, lawyers taught 4th graders about the benefits of pollution prevention and about oyster recovery. In addition to the educational event, a friendly competition was created to implore the students to collect oyster shells from restaurants, which will be used to provide a base for oysters to grow and help oyster recovery. The school that collects the most oyster shells will be awarded with a pizza party and a trip to the Maryland Science Center. On April 18, 2019 from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m., the Chesapeake Preservation Committee and the Education Committee held a Chesapeake Bay-themed trivia night.

DISASTER RELIEF COMMITTEE As part of the Disaster Relief Committee’s planning, the Disaster Relief Plan needs to be regularly updated to include current contact information for people and organizations who may be involved in assisting with disaster relief efforts. Each Circuit should have at least five volunteer attorneys who are willing to be available if the need arises. A volunteer attorney may be needed to assist with accepting phone calls, placing callers/clients with pro bono attorneys, or providing pro bono representation (if desired) in the event of a disaster. The Committee requests your assistance in serving as a volunteer attorney, or recruiting someone to be a volunteer attorney. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please contact the Committee’s Co-chair, Sean O’Keefe, at or (301) 473-1842.


MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE YLS members Tyler Mann, Andrea Conroy, and Chair-Elect Nate Risch were among members of the MSBA and the co-sponsoring Bar Association of Montgomery County who turned out to Zengo Cycle in Bethesda on Saturday, February 23, 2019 for a charity ride benefitting Comfort Cases. The Rockville-based non-profit organization works to inspire communities to bring dignity and hope to youth in foster care. A social happy hour at Brickside Food and Drink followed the 50-minute ride. The Zengo Charity Ride and Happy Hour is just one of the more than 300 events in which MSBA takes part each year. Look for upcoming events on our online calendar, or visit for more information.

OPEN MEETING The “Mastering Social Media� program at the Spring Open Meeting, held on March 11, 2019 at the Circuit Court for Montgomery County in Rockville, was a great success. Several attorneys and judges of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County were in attendance.

Attendees of the Spring Open Meeting.


TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE On March 29, 2019, the YLS Technology Committee, in collaboration with the YLS Education Committee, presented a panel on Artificial Intelligence (AI). The panelists included Frank Pasquale (University of Maryland Carey School of Law), Markus Rauschecker (Center for Health and Homeland Security), and Nii Attoh-Okine (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Delaware). Questions and conversation addressed the application of AI to the legal profession, including: predictive analytics in litigation, inherent biases in application of AI to criminal sentencing, ethical considerations, and

disclosures of certain uses of AI, and regulation of AI. Mr. Pasquale shared some skepticism about the future of AI and the need for controlled innovation especially as it applies to the law. Each panelist agreed that while AI will certainly change the landscape for attorneys, specifically in the transactional context, there will always be a need for attorneys with client relationships and logical reasoning. The panel event was recorded and will be made available via a YouTube channel.

From left to right: Nii Attoh-Okine, Tina C. Williams-Koroma (front), Markus Rauschecker (back), TJ Keilty (front), Frank Pasquale (back).




May 3, 2019 – The Bar Association of Frederick County (BAFC) Young Lawyers Section (YLS) will be hosting its annual spring event “Spring Thing” from 4:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at Hootch & Banter. Ticket prices are $30.00 and include beer, wine, sodas, and food. More information can be found at

May 14, 2019 – The BAFC YLS will have its monthly general body membership meeting at Ayse Meze from 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

May 17, 2019 – The BAFC and BAFC YLS will be hosting its Second Annual Friends & Family Night at the Frederick Keys game. The game begins at 7:00 p.m. The pre-game picnic, sponsored by Miles & Stockbridge, will begin at 5:00 p.m. Tickets are on sale now for $15.00 per person. To purchase tickets, please visit

May 31 through June 2, 2019 –Camp Jamie, a grief camp for children ages 6 through 17, will take place. Hospice of Frederick County is looking for volunteers to serve as Big Buddies and Support Staff. If you have any questions about what to expect, please feel free to contact Detric Kemp as he has served as a volunteer and would be happy to talk about his experience. You can find an application at

June 8, 2019 – 9th Annual Brewfest at Milkhouse Brewery. BAFC YLS will be volunteering again this year at the Brewfest on the Farm to benefit Camp Jamie. For more information about BrewFest, or if you are interested in serving as a volunteer, please contact the BAFC YLS at



On March 24, 2019, MSBA’s Public Awareness Committee, YLS Public Service Committee, and the BAFC YLS, served nutritious meals at the Frederick County Soup Kitchen.


ANNOUNCEMENTS The Executive Committee of the MSBA YLS would like to congratulate the Daily Record’s 2019 Leadership in Law Award honorees. The following members of the YLS were named honorees, with the support and recommendation of the YLS Awards Committee: HONOREE FOR THE “LEADERSHIP IN LAW” AWARD Sarah Cline

Shulman Rogers


Ryan Dymek

TJ Keilty

Lauren Lake

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

Shulman Rogers

Law Office of Ryan J. Dymek LLC

Gordon Feinblatt LLC

Indira Sharma

Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

The Young Lawyers Section congratulates all of this year’s nominees. If you would like to be considered for nomination for future awards by the YLS Awards Committee, please send your resume and a brief cover letter explaining your interest in the specific award to Awards Committee Co-Chair Doug Sampson at 17

PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE For questions or comments about The Advocate please contact any member of the Publications Committee: Letam Duson Chelsea Crawford Chaz Ball Paul H. Farmer, Jr.

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