Canadian lawyer recognized for pro bono work in U.S.

By RON FANFAIR

Scarborough-raised student athlete-turned-lawyer, Alicia Ritchie, has been recognized with a prestigious award for her pro bono work in Maryland, USA.

The Homeless Persons Representation Project (HPRP) Inc. presented Ritchie with the 2009 Outstanding Volunteer award for demonstrating an outstanding commitment of both time and effort to the organization’s pro bono program.

There are close to 3,500 homeless people in the Baltimore-Maryland area and their numbers are growing. This includes those who live in shelters as well as nearly 1,000 street dwellers. Blacks comprise about 85 per cent of the homeless population.

Ritchie receives referrals to help expunge certain criminal records of HPRP clients who are, in most instances, hindered in their attempts to secure jobs, because of their criminal records.

“When you can help clean up someone’s criminal record to afford them a greater opportunity to land a job, it’s tremendously rewarding,” said Ritchie, who works with the Miles & Stockbridge law firm. “Our problems are small compared to their daily struggles to survive”.

HPRP executive director Antonia Fasanelli said Ritchie deserves the award.

“She has helped remove significant barriers to employment and housing for many of our clients,” said Fasanelli. “Through her committed work, she has enabled them to take one more step toward finding a job, an apartment and getting off the street.”

A graduate of the Kingston-Galloway Lancers basketball program formed in 1980 to give young women an opportunity to play hoops and use the sport to pursue their professional dreams, Ritchie was awarded a scholarship in 1995 to attend Coppin State University in Baltimore where she graduated with a degree in English in 1999.

She pursued post-graduate studies at the University of Baltimore School of Law where she was a Teaching Assistant in the Legal Skills program.

Ritchie graduated cum laude with a Law degree three years ago and served as a judicial clerk in the office of Maryland’s Chief Judge, Robert Bell, the state’s first African-American judge, before joining Miles & Stockbridge where she represents manufacturers in products liability and mass tort litigation matters involving multiple parties and claims. She also handles commercial disputes and premises liability cases.

Ritchie’s stepfather, Colin Moore, was fatally shot on July 6, 2002 in an altercation over a $10 cover charge at a social event in Scarborough that he and his wife had organized.

The perpetrators of the crime are currently serving life sentences. 

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