Mission & History

Our Mission

Civil Justice is a Maryland non-profit corporation formed for the purpose of increasing the delivery of legal services to clients of low and moderate income while promoting a statewide network of solo, small firm and community based lawyers who share a common commitment to increasing access to justice through traditional and non-traditional means.

Our History

Civil Justice, Inc., a Maryland non-profit corporation, was founded in 1998 by faculty members at the University of Maryland School of Law and leaders of the Maryland State Bar Association, including Clinton Bamberger and Michael Millemann. In June 1998, with a grant from the Open Society Institute, Civil Justice was incorporated.   Today, CJ is responding to two main challenges. First, CJ works to provide legal services to those who do not qualify for free legal services nor can afford fees typically charged by attorneys. Second, CJ also bridges gaps where legal services organizations lack capacity to provide direct representation. CJ addresses these two challenges through a combination of in-house litigation and representation through our statewide network of attorneys through the following programs:

Economic Justice Program

CJ’s Economic Justice Program (EJP) provides representation to low- and moderate-income Marylanders exploited by illegal housing, lending, and debt collection practices. Launched in 2014, the EJP has saved Maryland consumers $1,327,153 in avoided court judgments and has resulted in $2,992,475 in affirmative recoveries.

Foreclosure Legal Assistance

Since the 2008 foreclosure crisis, CJ has advocated on behalf of financially-distressed Marylanders facing the loss of their homes. Today, CJ provides support to a statewide network of housing counselors and offers an array of services to Marylanders facing foreclosure.

CJ's Lawyer Referral Network

Through our Lawyer Referral Service, CJ bridges the gap in services between those who do not qualify for free legal services and those who cannot afford the hourly fees typically charged by lawyers. Unlike many lawyer referral services, CJ does not charge potential clients for this service. Additionally, CJ members agree to charge affordable, reduced rates for their services making CJ’s the only reduced fee referral service in Maryland. In 2021, CJ received more than 4,700 requests for referrals to our attorney network – a 25% increase over 2020.

Coordinated Intake

Civil Justice's Coordinated Intake Program is central to our support for expanding access to justice and a civil right to counsel. In 2022, Civil Justice partnered with the United Way of Central Maryland and A2J Tech to develop a coordinated intake system for the Maryland Access to Counsel in Evictions program. The first of its kind in Maryland, this system screens tenants in danger of eviction and places them with legal services providers across Maryland, while also connecting them to the social services they need. Coordinated intake has launched as a pilot in Baltimore City and will expand statewide by 2025.

Maryland Justice Passport

Launched in February 2020, the Maryland Justice Passport is a free, trauma-informed technology that helps Marylanders find the legal help they need. The Justice Passport is available via a website and mobile app. Marylanders can use the Justice Passport to:

  • Store important case-related documents;
  • Track events along with applications for legal services;
  • Create notes and tasks; and
  • Organize information on one secure platform.

Lawyers, litigants, intake specialists and referral coordinators can use the Passport to organize existing clients and streamline referrals to other organizations. To date, more than 800 Justice Passports have been created.

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