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Sierra Blanchard-Hodge Photo

Early Thanks to Our Intern, Sierra Blanchard-Hodge

By Nancy Lopez Before we sit down for turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce and pie, we'd like to express our thanks to our fall intern, Sierra Blanchard-Hodge, for the many ways in which she has helped to support our mission. Thank you, Sierra! We asked Sierra to share a little bit about herself and her experience this semester. (More…)
Photo: Katie Legomsky

2015 Government Pro Bono Award: Kathryn E. Legomsky

By Sierra Blanchard-Hodge Katie Legomsky has a busy day job. Since 2010, she's been an attorney in the General Counsel’s Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and she's currently on a one-year detail as a trial attorney at the DOJ Civil Rights Division, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section. But it's the work she does during her spare time that earned her our 2015 Government Pro Bono Award. Since 2011, Katie has volunteered for the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, serving as a pro bono litigator and a mentor for junior volunteers. (More…)
Photo: Jen Tschirch At Desk

2015 Above & Beyond Award: Jen Tschirch

By Sierra Blanchard-Hodge Since joining our board in fall 2012, Jennifer Tschirch (by day, Pro Bono Coordinator at Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law) has thrown herself into the work of Washington Council of Lawyers. Jen agreed to take on a massive job: organizing DC Pro Bono Week, an annual series of events, trainings, and programs to celebrate and promote pro bono work. Under Jen's leadership, DC Pro Bono Week has grown and flourished. As one of our board members said, when reflecting on Jen’s work, “I feel like DC Pro Bono Week has become a national model for local community engagement and Jen’s organization and dedication is a very big reason.” (More…)
Medical-Legal Clinic Mural

2015 Pro Bono Week Recap: Medical-Legal Clinic

Advocates got an inside look into Children's Law Center's medical-legal partnership with Unity Health Care on Oct. 29, as part of a DC Pro Bono Week site visit. The partnership with Unity's Minnesota Avenue Center is the sixth medical-legal partnership for Children's Law Center and the first for Unity.

2015 Pro Bono Week Recap: “Know Your Rights” Immigration Training

By Michael Lukens As part of this year’s DC Pro Bono Week, the Capital Area Immigrant’s Rights (CAIR) Coalition teamed up with area law firms to provide immigration-focused “Know Your Rights” presentations to students and families at three DC high schools. Lawyers from Baker Botts visited Theodore Roosevelt High School, lawyers from Covington & Burling visited Cardozo Education Campus, and lawyers from Sutherland Asbill & Brennen visited Bell Multicultural High School. At each school, students and their families received information about the rights, legal options, and potential pitfalls for noncitizens living in the United States. Topics included how immigration courts work, how to respond to police requests for identification, and how to avoid legal scams. Presentations were made in both English and Spanish. The attendees were delighted and full of questions—peppering some of the presenters long after the allotted time with questions about living as a noncitizen in Washington, DC. One young woman, intent on going to college, asked wonderful questions about how an immigrant could gain lawful status while also protecting her family. At another school, we learned that the process for going from a green card holder to citizen is not very well understood in the community—we were able to clarify the process and provide relief to some concerned attendees. The Know Your Rights presentations are a unique way for attorneys to get into the local community and provide a much-needed legal service without taking on a full pro bono case. Without these types of sessions, local communities often don't know where to find accurate immigration information. CAIR Coalition and Washington Council of Lawyers are grateful for the time and dedication of the attorneys and school officials involved.

Redevelopment Plans Cause Concern for Congress Heights Residents

Residents in four rent-controlled buildings in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Southeast DC fear losing their homes to redevelopment, the Post reports. As housing costs increase across the city, residents worry that plans for a new housing complex near the proposed Washington Wizards practice facility in Ward 8 will force them out of some of the last affordable housing in the city. Of the 47 units in the current complex, only 19 are currently occupied; residents claim the property owners are failing to make repairs in an attempt to "push people out." Although denying any attempt to force residents to vacate units, the owners confirm that they are "not currently making capital improvements" to the buildings in anticipation of the development project. Meanwhile, 19 families will likely soon be searching for affordable housing in a city that's increasingly inhospitable to low-income residents. According to Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless attorney Will Merrifield, who is representing the Congress Heights residents, the DC rental market "is so out of control that if you’re displaced from a rent-controlled apartment, it is essentially impossible to find housing." Similarly situated Ward 8 residents recently won abatement of unsanitary, unsafe housing conditions in a Congress Heights neighborhood, with the help of pro bono services from Howard and Catholic University law students.

Photo: Rebecca Lindhurst

2015 Legal Services Award: Rebecca Lindhurst

By Sierra Blanchard-Hodge Our 2015 Legal Services Award goes to Rebecca Lindhurst, a Managing Attorney in the Legal Clinic at Bread for the City. Rebecca has worked with Bread for the City since she arrived in DC in 2002, and she has demonstrated an uncommon devotion to serving members of the low-income community. At the same time, she has worked tirelessly to build associations and create programs to ensure that even more low-income tenants have access to representation, and to seek policy changes leading to better protection of tenants' rights. (More…)
OAH Group Photo

2015 Pro Bono Week Recap: Office of Administrative Hearings Tour

DC Pro Bono Week concluded on October 30 with a tour of the Office of Administrative Hearings. Although it operates under the radar, OAH makes decisions about cases that are important for scores of people in Washington, DC, many of them low-income. Cases affect schools, unemployment insurance, housing rentals, public safety, health, and benefits. As a result, adequate representation in OAH is essential to improving access to justice in DC.
Photo: Outside Courthouse

Pro Bono Week Recap: Tour of DC Superior Court’s Landlord and Tenant Branch

As part of DC Pro Bono Week, on October 27th a group of 10 attorneys, clerks, law students, and other members of the legal community met for a morning tour of the Landlord and Tenant Branchof DC Superior Court. The Housing Crisis from the Inside: A Guided Tour of DC Superior Court’s Landlord and Tenant Branch was led by Beth Mellen Harrison, Supervising Attorney of Legal Aid’s Housing Law Unit and Director of Legal Aid’s Landlord-Tenant Court-Based Legal Services Project.

Pro Bono Week Recap: Domestic Violence & Victims of Crime

The DC Pro Bono Week tour of DC Superior Court focused on domestic violence and resources for crime victims. The tour was led by Rachel Kohler of the Network of Victim Recovery of DC and Paige Allmendinger of DC SAFE. NVRDC and DC SAFE offer counseling, child protective service advocacy, litigation, and many other timely resources to ensure that victims have the resources they need to move forward.
Photo: Cheers For Justice

Pro Bono Week Recap: Cheers for Justice! A Pro Bono Week Happy Hour

As DC Pro Bono Week 2015 got underway, we convened on Monday, October 26 for Cheers for Justice! Representatives from various local bar associations were on hand to discuss their organizations and answer attendees’ questions about getting more involved in pro bono work. (Plus there was food, drinks, music, and great conversation!)
Photo: Advocacy Panel

Pro Bono Week Recap: Advancing Social Justice Through Pro Bono and Advocacy Work

DC Pro Bono Week 2015 got started on Monday, October 26, wtih Advancing Social Justice Through Pro Bono and Advocacy Work. Roughly 30 law school students from schools around the DC area gathered at Steptoe & Johnson for a panel organized by law schools at Catholic University of America, Georgetown University, American University, George Washington University, and Howard University.
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