The Debtor Assistance Project ("DAP") is a bankruptcy clinic administered in both in-person and virtual formats 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 consultation.
At the appointment, volunteer attorneys (volunteers) will 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.
MALPRACTICE COVERAGE AND SOLICITATION OF DEBTORS
Malpractice coverage is provided to all 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 during DAP sessions, volunteers are not permitted to solicit clients during the sessions. However, volunteers may, as appropriate: (1) recommend a debtor retain counsel of the debtor’s choice; and (2) provide a copy of the attorney low bono list (that may include the volunteer’s name) to assist the debtor in retaining counsel. If the debtor asks about retaining the volunteer, the volunteer should inform the debtor that the debtor should call the volunteer at a time after the conclusion of the DAP session to discuss possible retention.
- Telephonic (T/DAP)
T/DAP sessions are conducted utilizing private Zoom calls. The telephonic format affords greater flexibility to the volunteers and clients. Volunteers can customize their availability to fit their schedule, and sessions may be performed from any convenient, private location. Additionally, the volunteer’s direct contact information remains protected. Debtors electronically complete and submit intake information in advance of being scheduled for sessions, providing volunteers the ability to preview data and spot issues before conducting sessions.
- In-Person (Note: In-person DAP services are suspended during the pandemic)
In-person DAP sessions are currently suspected during the Covid-19 Pandemic
Once volunteers have registered through the Volunteer Registration Form as a DAP or T/DAP volunteer, they are sent a link for DAP calendar access and/or instructions and next steps for T/DAP scheduling. Any questions can be directed to the Court’s Pro Bono Coordinator at Pro bono 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 Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service and the Mid-Shore Pro Bono Project .