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Photo: 2018 poverty law panelists Nancy Drane, Jen Berger, and

2019 Summer Forum Preview: Pro Bono to Aid People Who Experience Poverty

By Alexis Applegate

Individuals living at or below the federal poverty level can encounter all manner of legal issues and are least likely to be able to afford legal representation. Lawyers practicing in this area must have a wide array of tools in their kit and an ability to meet a variety of challenges.

The Poverty Law panel will explore the myriad ways lawyers help low-income residents including court matters with issues of housing, family, and consumer law; transactional matters such as public benefits; and policy work to ensure the defense and safeguarding of everyone’s rights regardless of position or power.

Rebecca Goldfrank, Managing Attorney at CAIR Coalition, will moderate the panel, which includes:

Tracy Goodman (Children’s Law Center)

Tracy leads the Healthy Together medical-legal partnership, which brings Children’s Law Center lawyers side-by-side with pediatricians in health clinics to find and fix the root causes of a child’s health problem. Under her leadership since 2002, the project has grown from one staff attorney to 13 attorneys and 3 investigators. Prior to her work at Children’s Law Center, Tracy was an attorney at the Maryland Legal Aid representing children in abuse and neglect proceedings, and she also worked with a non-governmental organization in Brazil specializing in labor rights issues.

Theodore A. Howard (Ted) (Wiley Rein LLP)

Ted is Wiley’s first full-time Pro Bono Partner, a position in which he oversees the firm’s pro bono activities and initiatives, and fosters relationships with the public interest legal services community. Ted has extensive pro bono litigation experience including death penalty, landlord-tenant, child custody and adoption, and prisoners’ rights matters, with a particular focus on claims involving conditions of confinement of incarcerated persons under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Christopher Peña (Hunton Andrews Kurth)

Christopher Peña is an Associate with Hunton Andrews Kurth, where he leads the firm’s Affordable Housing Initiative as a member of its Pro Bono Leadership Committee. During law school, he worked as a legal intern with the Legal Aid Justice Center in Richmond.   

Ariel Levinson-Waldman (Tzedek DC)  

Ariel Levinson-Waldman is the Founding President and Director-Counsel of Tzedek DC, an independent public interest center at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law. Tzedek DC’s mission is to safeguard the rights and interests of low-income DC residents facing debt-related problems.  Under his leadership, since its launch in 2017, Tzedek DC has provided free legal help to over 700 DC households facing debt collection, consumer, or credit problems, distributed know your rights materials to thousands of community college students, and championed reforms that led to 65,000 people whose drivers licenses had previously been suspended for unpaid traffic debts regaining the right to drive in the District of Columbia. Previously, Ariel served in a series of government roles. Until January 2017, he served in the Obama administration as the Department of Labor Advisor to the White House Interagency Legal Aid Roundtable, a coordinated effort to promote low-income Americans’ access to civil legal aid as part of the federal government’s anti-poverty efforts.  He previously served as the Senior Counsel to the DC Attorney General, where he played a Chief of Staff role and helped direct the District’s consumer protection enforcement and policy advocacy efforts.

Join us to hear keynote speaker Jonathan Smith from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee and then choose to attend one of six breakout sessions at the 2019 Summer Forum on Thursday, June 20, from 12:00 – 2:30 pm at Georgetown University Law Center. 

Alexis Applegate is Washington Council of Lawyers’ Communications Director and co-chair of our Communications Committee

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