The Debtor Assistance Project ("DAP") is a bankruptcy clinic available at both the district’s courthouses as well as a satellite location in Easton, Maryland. This clinic was formed to assist current and potential pro se debtors. One of the goals of the DAP is to reach out to debtors at or before intake, to prevent unnecessary filings and give debtors a first-hand look at the importance of working with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. The DAP provides debtors with the opportunity to pre-schedule an appointment to meet with an attorney for a free half-hour consult. Volunteer attorneys staff the DAP in two-hour shifts (e.g., 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.).
At the appointment, volunteer attorneys should be available to answer questions, review filings, and address other matters that pro se debtors may encounter. To ensure volunteers are capable of answering questions at the clinic, the DAP requires volunteers have 3 years of bankruptcy experience. If a volunteer has less than 3 years of experience but feels competent to staff the DAP, a waiver of this policy may be granted. For more information about the experience policy, please review the DAP Experience Policy. Please note that attorneys are not expected to answer all debtor questions. The DAP hopes to answer questions that can reasonably be answered within a half-hour consultation and to provide direction and guidance to debtors on how to proceed after the consultation (i.e. what to expect in their case if they continue without an attorney).
The DAP office is a private, furnished office next to the DAP waiting area. The office has a computer, printer, and DSL Internet connectivity available for use by volunteer attorneys. The DAP waiting area provides a furnished waiting area for debtors to sit and wait until their scheduled appointment time. This area has informational materials about bankruptcy and a pro se public computer terminal for use by debtors.
Malpractice coverage is provided to all DAP volunteers. All debtors are required to sign a form acknowledging that no attorney-client relationship is formed during their DAP appointment. To maintain a clear understanding that no attorney-client relationship is being formed, attorney volunteers are not permitted to solicit clients. During consultations, DAP volunteers are permitted to select up to 5 attorneys (from our low bono listings) as referral suggestions for DAP clients. A DAP volunteer may not select himself/herself as one of the 5 referrals. However, this does not prevent an attorney who is individually contacted by a debtor, after a DAP appointment, from taking on representation of that debtor.
Training will be made available, starting in the fall of 2009, to any volunteer attorneys interested in attending. The content of the training will be directed at updating non-consumer debtor attorneys on law relevant to assisting consumer debtors.
Once volunteers have registered through the Volunteer Registration Form as a DAP volunteer, they can use the DAP Calendar to reserve specific time slots to staff the DAP office. A link to access and instructions on how to use the DAP Calendar will be emailed to all volunteers who register to staff the office. Any questions can be directed to the Court’s Pro Bono Coordinator at 410-962-3813 or Probono Contact
Baltimore’s DAP office - located on the 1st floor next to the Probation and Pretrial Office at 101 West Lombard St. Baltimore, MD 21201
Greenbelt’s DAP office - located on the 1st floor at the former bankruptcy intake office at 6500 Cherrywood Lane Suite 300 Greenbelt, MD 20770 intake office
Easton's DAP office - located at the Mid-Shore Pro Bono Project's office, 8 S. West Street, Easton, MD 21601.
The DAP is the result of collaboration between the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the MD State Bar Association Consumer Bankruptcy Section, the Bankruptcy Bar Association of MD, the Standing Chapter 13 Trustees, the Pro Bono Resource Center of MD, Community Legal Services of Prince George's County, the Montgomery County Bar Association, the MD Volunteer Lawyer Service and the Mid-Shore Pro Bono Project .