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Graphic: Poverty Law Event Panel

2020 Summer Forum Preview: Varied and Wide-Ranging Pro Bono Opportunities in Poverty Law

By Deborah Birnbaum

Individuals living in poverty face numerous legal and non-legal issues every day. In these uncertain and rapidly-changing times, those at or below the federal poverty level are being disproportionally displaced, harassed, and abused. Lawyers who practice in this area have to employ both traditional techniques and creative problem-solving methods to ensure the best outcomes for their clients. The areas of law the legal issues touch upon – landlord-tenant, consumer, and family – have the highest rate of pro se litigants but also produce some of the most life-changing outcomes for the parties involved. Representation is vital in these areas, and the need is overwhelming. Pro bono lawyers who take on these cases can be life-savers.

Join us on Tuesday, July 14 at 12:00 pm ET for the second in our series of five breakout panels exploring ways to incorporate pro bono practice into your professional life and avenues to support under-represented individuals. Our expert panel will discuss the many ways that poverty lawyers serve their clients on a daily basis. They will explore the wide-ranging legal issues individuals living in poverty face and explain what pro bono opportunities are available in D.C. and across the country to help address these needs. They also will discuss what the life of full-time public-interest poverty lawyers is like. The panel includes:

Tracy Goodman, Children’s Law Center

Tracy Goodman is the Director of Healthy Together, the medical-legal partnership at Children’s Law Center. Tracy 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.

Ted Howard, Wiley Rein LLP

Ted Howard is the first full-time Pro Bono Partner at Wiley LLP.  He oversees the firm’s pro bono activities and initiatives and fosters relationships with the public interest legal services community. He also 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.

Keeshea Turner Roberts, Howard University School of Law

Keeshea Turner Roberts is an Adjunct Professor and Supervising Attorney of Howard University School of Law’s Fair Housing Clinic. She teaches weekly seminars and facilitates case rounds for Fair Housing Clinic student attorneys focusing on client-centered lawyering skills, and the lawyering process, including interviewing, counseling, negotiations, fact investigation, case theory development, and trial skills.  Keeshea also supervises law students in civil and landlord/tenant cases at D.C. Superior Court.

Bradford Voegeli, Neighborhood Legal Services Program

Bradford Voegeli serves as the Director of Private Attorney Involvement at the Neighborhood Legal Services Program. Adhering to principles of community lawyering, Bradford has assisted in the design and implementation of several initiatives to secure affordable housing and extend economic opportunity in under-served and indigent neighborhoods.

Debbie Cuevas Hill, Legal Counsel for the Elderly, Moderator

Washington Council of Lawyers Board Member Debbie Cuevas Hill will moderate the panel.  Debbie works as a bilingual attorney in the Consumer Fraud and Financial Abuse Unit at Legal Counsel for the Elderly where she represents low-income seniors who are victims of financial exploitation and real property fraud and/or who are facing foreclosure.

The Summer Forum kicks off the series with keynote remarks by D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby on Tuesday, July 7, from 12:00 – 1:00 pm ET. Chief Judge Blackburne-Rigsby will be joined in conversation by Jim Sandman, President Emeritus of the Legal Services Corporation, and Chair of the American Bar Association’s Covid-19 Task Force.

Check out the schedule for all the breakout panels here.

Look for updates and join the conversation about the Summer Forum using #SumFo20 on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn!

Deborah Birnbaum is a government attorney and Washington Council of Lawyers Board Member.