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2020 Summer Forum Preview: Pro Bono Opportunities Outside the Courtroom

By Prianka Sharma

Not all battles are won in the courtroom. As many know, litigation is lengthy, costly, and in many instances, not needed. One study found upwards of 92 percent of cases settle out of court, and in fact, for many litigants, trying to reach an out of court settlement is better for both parties.  Pro bono lawyers play crucial roles outside of the courtroom, and not only in negotiating pre-trial settlement agreements.

Pro bono lawyers are important in a host of other transactional law matters such as ensuring that clients are complying with statutes and regulations, advising non-profits on corporate governance matters, and advocating for policies that will bring about needed reform to our legal system.

During our 2020 Summer Forum, our Transactional Pro Bono Opportunities panel will feature law firm and public-interest lawyers who work with clients on a variety of transactional matters ranging from contracts and compliance, to business incorporation, and helping startups and small businesses grow. The panel will also discuss how pro bono attorneys can help to make a difference by advocating for policies to promote good government and help in making the legal system just and accessible to all.

The panel will take place on July 9, 2020, from 12:00-1:00 pm ET, and will be moderated by Susie Hoffman, a Washington Council of Lawyers board member, Public Service Partner at Crowell & Moring, and current President of the D.C. Bar. Although Susie has a litigation background, her wide-ranging experience with advocacy and nonprofit work will help set the stage for a rich discussion about how lawyers can make a difference outside the courtroom.

This year’s panelists will include:

Nicole Austin-Hillery, Human Rights Watch

Nicole Austin-Hillery is Human Rights Watch’s inaugural U.S. Program Executive Director, and former Director and Counsel of The Brennan Center’s Washington, D.C. office.

Darryl Maxwell, DC Bar Pro Bono Program’s Community Economic Development Project

Darryl Maxwell is the Assistant Director for the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center’s Nonprofit Legal Assistance and Small Business Programs and manages the Small Business Brief Advice Legal Clinic.

Jim Joseph, Arnold & Porter

Jim Joseph is the co-chair of the Arnold & Porter’s Tax practice and Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Walter Smith, DC Appleseed

Walter Smith is the executive director of DC Appleseed and former Special Deputy Corporation Counsel at the D.C. Office of the Corporation Counsel (now the Office of the Attorney General).

Now more than ever, attorneys are needed to advocate for policies that will tackle issues of systemic injustice in our country and in our legal system. We hope you will join us for this timely and important discussion as part of our virtual 2020 Summer Forum. The Summer Forum will kick off on Tuesday, July 7, from 12:00-1:00 pm ET with a keynote address from The Honorable Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, Chief Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals. Subsequent panels will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the month of July. Registered attendees are able to participate in all of the programming!

Click here for more information and to register.

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

Prianka Sharma is a government attorney, Washington Council of Lawyers Board Member, and Co-Chair of the Communications Committee.