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Pioneering Md. Center Takes Legal Aid On The Road

Law 360: “On first impression, the Mobile Library Law Center looks a lot like any of the white vans that roll through the streets of Baltimore County, a collection of towns and municipalities that ring the outside of Maryland’s largest city. But this seemingly nondescript Ford Transit is actually a historic first, according to Baltimore County Public Library system director Sonia Alcántara-Antoine.

“We are proud to be the first library system in the country — in the whole United States! — to own and operate a mobile legal vehicle, servicing those who don’t have access to legal help due to financial means, immobility or lack of transportation,” she said during a mid-August ribbon-cutting ceremony at the system’s branch in Woodlawn.  The center, for which the BCPL partnered with statewide legal services provider Maryland Legal Aid, hit the road Aug. 11 with a mission to provide complimentary legal services to underserved communities where residents may not know that such offerings are available. The need for and difficulty of accessing such services in Baltimore County, similar to much of the country, has a lot to do with poverty. Although area residents often discuss the suburbs as totally different from the city it surrounds — a predominantly Black municipality where longtime racist policies have enabled endemic segregation, a poverty rate of 21.2% and myriad other systemic issues — Baltimore County still experiences many of the same issues. This is especially true in certain western and eastern parts of the county, where BCPL adult and community engagement manager Julie Brophy said the Mobile Library Law Center will initially be centered…”

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