In the early spring of 1998, Michael Millemann and E. Clinton Bamberger had a vision of forming a non-profit law office to benefit low to moderate income individuals. Several public interest advocate attorneys, along with Mr. Millemann and Mr. Bamberger, met to work out the details for the formation and operation of this organization. In June 1998, with a grant from the Open Society Institute, Civil Justice was incorporated and obtained 501c(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service. Feelers were then put out to find an appropriate person to fill the position of Executive Director.

Denis Murphy, partner of Carlile, Patchen & Murphy and past president of the Columbus Bar Association and Foundation, caught the attention of the founding members of Civil Justice. After practicing law for thirty-one years at Carlile, Patchen & Murphy, Mr. Murphy retired and moved to Annapolis, MD. Even though he retired from his business litigation practice, he did not retire from his commitment to legal service to the under-served. Mr. Murphy joined the University of Maryland Law School faculty as an adjunct and headed up Civil Justice, Inc.

In January, 2004 Mr. Murphy hired Phillip Robinson as Deputy Executive Director. Upon the passing of Mr. Murphy in May 2005, the Board of Directors appointed Mr. Robinson as the new Executive Director. Under Phillip Robinson’s tenure, Civil Justice continued to develop, becoming a Maryland and national leader fighting predatory real estate practices and unlawful foreclosures. Phillip Robinson eventually left Civil Justice and reentered private practice, but continues to be a member of Civil Justice.

Cheryl Hystad was named as Civil Justice's Executive Director in April, 2013. Cheryl was a longtime advocate for low and moderate income consumers. Under her tenure, Civil Justice continued as a leader on behalf of consumers in the foreclosure crisis and numerous other areas of consumer law.  Following her retirement in April 2017, the Board of Directors appointed Joseph Mack as Executive Director of Civil Justice, Inc.


Civil Justice is a Maryland non-profit corporation formed for the purpose of increasing the delivery of legal services to clients of low and moderate income while promoting a statewide network of solo, small firm and community based lawyers who share a common commitment to increasing access to justice through traditional and non-traditional means.