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Graphic: Poverty Law & Immigration & Human Rights panels

2021 Summer Forum Preview: Poverty Law Panel

by Nicole Portnov

Over the past year, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated socio-economic, health, racial, and gender inequalities in America. It has threatened working and middle-class communities with financial instability and wreaked havoc on families and individuals living in poverty. In the current economic climate, the legal and policy issues discussed at Washington Council of Lawyer’s annual Summer Forum’s Poverty Law Panel take on increased significance.

Individuals living at or below the federal and state poverty levels face unprecedented legal challenges in the current climate, and the lawyers practicing in these areas are navigating a rapidly changing legal landscape. Poverty law typically encompasses landlord-tenant and housing law, consumer and debt collection law, and family and domestic violence law. Clients often have little understanding of their rights in these proceedings, making representation vital and the need overwhelming. Indeed, pro bono lawyers who take on these cases can be life-savers.

Join us on Thursday, June 10 at noon 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 strategies that poverty lawyers employ to serve their clients. They will also explore the wide-ranging legal issues that individuals living in poverty face, and highlight available pro bono opportunities in D.C. and nationwide to help address these needs. The panel includes:

Tracy Goodman, Childrens Law Center

Tracy 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 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 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

Brad serves as the Director of Private Attorney Involvement at the Neighborhood Legal Services Program. Adhering to principles of community lawyering, Brad 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 Senior Staff Attorney in the Consumer Advocacy & Home Preservation Practice at Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE) where she represents low-income seniors who are victims of financial abuse and provides foreclosure defense representation.

Save your spot today! One registration provides access to our keynote conversation and all five practice-area panels.

Look for updates and join the conversation about the Summer Forum using #SumFo21 on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

Nicole Portnov is a member of the Washington Council of Lawyers Special Events & Fundraising Committee.

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