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2022 Summer Forum Preview: Poverty Law Panel

The legal hurdles faced by individuals living in poverty are vast. They often face uphill battles with issues impacting the most fundamental human needs: family stability, safe housing, food security, fair employment, and freedom from fear and violence. Representation is vital in these areas, and the need is overwhelming. These areas of law often have the highest rate of pro se litigants; when pro bono or public-interest lawyers get involved, these cases also produce some of the most life-changing outcomes for the parties involved. Pro bono lawyers who take on these cases literally can be life-savers.

Join us on Thursday, June 16, at 12:00 pm ET for the second in our series of five breakout panels on pro bono practice and public-interest careers that serve 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:

Ashley Carter, DC Volunteer Lawyers Project

Ashley is a Managing Attorney in DCVLP’s Domestic Violence and Policy and Appellate Advocacy practice areas. In this role, she represents survivors of domestic violence in Civil Protection Order and appellate cases and advocates for policies and laws that benefit DCVLP clients. Ashely joined DCVLP in 2019 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow, sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP and Steptoe & Johnson LLP. As part of her fellowship, Ashley staffed DCVLP’s Domestic Violence Protection Order Clinic at D.C. Superior Court. Prior to joining DCVLP she served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Maribeth Raffinan, Presiding Judge of the Domestic Violence Division at the DC Superior Court. Ashley received her J.D. from George Washington University Law School and her B.A. from Transylvania University.

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 Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland representing children in abuse and neglect proceedings, and she also worked with a non-governmental organization in Brazil specializing in labor rights issues. During law school, she represented individuals seeking political asylum in the United States, and also worked on issues related to domestic and family violence. She speaks Portuguese and Spanish. Tracy is a graduate of American University and Georgetown University Law Center. 

Sébastien Monzón Rueda, Legal Counsel for the Elderly

Sébastien Monzón Rueda is a Staff Attorney in the Tenant Advocacy and Support Practice at Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE) where he represents low-income seniors in housing-related cases before the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Sébastien also litigates reasonable accommodation cases and illegal rent increase claims before administrative bodies, such as the D.C. Housing Authority and the Office of Administrative Hearings. Sébastien is fluent in Spanish. Prior to joining Legal Counsel for the Elderly in March 2018, Sébastien clerked for the Honorable Tyrona De Witt and the Honorable Diane Lepley at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Sébastien received his J.D., cum laude, from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (“UDC Law”) and his B.A. from The University of British Columbia.  During law school, Sébastien interned for the Honorable John M. Mott of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia as a HBA-DC Judicial Internship Program participant.  He also clerked for the Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Service of the District of Columbia, AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly, and Disability Rights DC. As a student attorney, Sébastien billed over 700 hours during his time in the UDC Law Housing and Consumer Law Clinic and the UDC Law General Practice Clinic. Sébastien is a Board Member of the Washington Council of Lawyers and serves as Co-Chair of the Advocacy Committee.

Harmony Jones, Steptoe & Johnson

Harmony Jones assists in managing Steptoe’s pro bono program. She is responsible for guiding and supporting firm-wide participation in the program, which seeks to increase access to justice by providing legal services to low-income individuals and charitable organizations. She provides representation and mentorship on a variety of pro bono matters, including those involving civil rights and public benefits law. She also works to develop and maintain innovative partnerships with legal service organizations locally nationally, and internationally. Harmony has extensive experience in providing legal services on behalf of indigent clients. As a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society, she represented clients at both the federal and local levels on public benefits matters. As a staff attorney at the Neighborhood Legal Services Program, she provided brief legal services in the areas of housing, family, and public benefits. Harmony previously worked with an international law firm as a pro bono fellow, where she represented clients in civil rights, criminal defense, and federal habeas corpus cases at the trial and appellate levels. She also served as counsel for amici clients before the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to her pro bono work, Harmony represented clients in a wide range of complex commercial litigation cases.

Debbie Cuevas Hill, Legal Counsel for the Elderly, Moderator

Deborah Cuevas Hill is a Senior Staff Attorney in the Consumer Advocacy & Home Preservation Practice at Legal Counsel for the Elderly (LCE). LCE is the primary provider of free legal services and advocacy for older people in the District of Columbia.  In this role, Debbie represents low-income seniors who are victims of financial exploitation and real property fraud and provides foreclosure defense representation. Prior to joining LCE, Debbie was a Senior Staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society for the District of Columbia in the Housing Unit where Debbie provided representation to clients facing eviction or loss of a housing subsidy. Debbie provides representation to her clients in both English and Spanish. Debbie previously clerked at the DC Court of Appeals for the Honorable Inez Smith Reid.  She was also an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the National Partnership for Women & Families where she educated state and national legislators regarding the need for policies that provide income to workers while on leave for family or medical reasons. Debbie received her Juris Doctor from George Washington University Law School. Debbie is a Board Member of the Washington Council of Lawyers and serves as Co-Chair of the Special Events & Fundraising Committee. 

The Honorable John F. McCabe, Jr., Closing Remarks

The Honorable John F. McCabe, Jr. was nominated by President Barack Obama and sworn in as an Associate Judge of the D.C> Superior Court in 2011. He was born in New York City, raised in New Jersey, and attended Duke University and Tulane University Law School. He first worked as an associate at a law firm in Atlanta, Georgia. Then moved to the District of Columbia and was a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society. He served as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the office of the Corporation Counsel (now the Office of the Attorney General)  where he was the first Chief of the Domestic Violence Section of the Office. He next served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia, where he served in the misdemeanor, felony, appellate, grand jury, and homicide sections. He was appointed as a Magistrate Judge in D.C. Superior Court in 2022, where he worked in the Family Court on cases involving children in the foster care system. Judge McCabe is a volunteer tutor and mentor with the Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School, and is a member of a rock and roll and rhythm and blues band with other Superior Court judges. 

The Summer Forum kicks off with keynote remarks by Kristen Clarke,  Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday, June 8, at 12:00 pm ET. Attorney General Clark will be joined in conversation by Nicole Austin-Hillery, President & CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus. 

Look for updates and join the conversation about the Summer Forum using #SumFo22 on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

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