About the Women’s Law Center
Founded in 1971 with the mission of promoting and protecting the legal rights of women, the Women’s Law Center is a leading voice in promoting justice and fairness for Maryland’s women. The Center achieves its mission through direct services, education, research, policy analysis, advocacy and judicial selection. The Center is a nonprofit, membership organization that offers opportunities for its members to provide legal services and to participate in advocacy on behalf of women and families. The organization operates programs that effect change on both individual and systemic levels, providing direct services to those in need, and advocating for broad reforms that promote and protect legal rights for women and families throughout Maryland. The Women’s Law Center’s work in the area of family law is conducted under the auspices of the Kaufman Center on Family Law.
The Women’s Law Center’s programs include:
Direct Services: The Women’s Law Center provides free attorneys to victims of domestic violence who are seeking protective orders through the civil circuit courts in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Carroll County. Through the Multi-Ethnic Domestic Violence Project (MEDOVI), the Women’s Law Center addresses the special needs of foreign born victims of domestic violence. The Reduced Fee Child Custody Project allows the Women’s Law Center to pay private attorneys to handle contested child custody cases in Baltimore County at a significantly reduced fee.
Education: The WLC operates three hotlines. The Family Law Hotline answers general questions about family law and the Legal Forms Helpline helps litigants who do not have an attorney effectively utilize the standard domestic relations forms. The Employment Law Hotline provides Maryland’s workers with information about their employment law questions. Volunteer and reduced fee attorneys staff the hotlines, which fill a critical gap in services to underserved people and provide an opportunity for 4,600 annual callers to consult with an experienced attorney without charge. For most callers, the hotlines provide their only access to critical information they need to make important decisions. The Women’s Law Center publishes several publications for women, including: Battered: What Can I Do?, Your Money Matters: A Guide to Financial Independence for Women, Legal Rights in Marriage and Divorce, and Sex Discrimination in Employment.
Research and Policy Analysis: The Women’s Law Center takes a leading role in identifying and addressing inequities that impact women. The Women’s Law Center conducted two research studies, in 1999 and 2003, that provide the first empirical information about outcomes in family law cases. Based on the research, the Women’s Law Center developed policy recommendations and launched the Justice in Divorce project to promote equitable allocation of financial resources and increase financial stability for families after divorce. The Kaufman Alimony Guidelines were developed to further that goal.
Legislative Advocacy and Judicial Selection: The Women’s Law Center actively participates in the legislative process by monitoring and taking positions on proposed legislative that addressess domestic violence, sexual assault, family law, reproductive rights, equal pay and other issues that have an impact on women. The Women’s Law Center participates actively in the state's judicial selections process, utilizing a member-inclusive, objective and confidential process of candidate interviews. After interviewing candidates, the Center sends its position on the candidate’s qualifications to the governor and the Judicial Nominating Commissions.
For complete description of the Women’s Law Center’s mission and programs, go to the website at www.wlcmd.org or for more information, call 410-321-8761.