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Graphic: Past President Paul Lee

50 Years of Leadership: Past President Paul Lee

Leadership starts from within. Paul Lee, board president from 2014-2016, knew that as he began his presidency during a time of growth. During his tenure, Washington Council of Lawyers expanded its staff and offerings of programming, trainings, events, and ways to come together to accomplish our mission in new and exciting ways.

During Paul’s presidency, Washington Council of Lawyers strengthened the Litigation Skills Series training program and expanded the overall scope of training opportunities for legal service lawyers through our partnership with the DC Bar Foundation. Due to their generosity, we’ve provided scholarships for our trainings to hundreds of legal services lawyers. In addition, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser had just taken office, and we were at the forefront of pushing her team and the D.C. Council to view legal services as social services. This emphasis has continued in the form of continued legal services funding and the response of Mayor Bowser and the DC Council to the current pandemic.

A large part of Washington Council of Lawyers’ work during this time focused on bringing together the legacy of our important work from the 1980’s and 1990’s and looking ahead to new challenges to access to justice. It was at this time that we adopted our tag line, the Public Interest Bar Association of DC, as both an expression of our commitment to supporting public-interest work in DC and evidence of our reputation as the voluntary bar for public-interest-minded lawyers in DC.

Not only was Washington Council of Lawyers expanding programming and trainings during Paul’s tenure, but he also oversaw the expansion of our staff for the first time since creating the Executive Director position. With the addition of a part-time Administrative Director, we were able to expand our mission and extend our reach. Paul also oversaw the creation of a competitive process for drawing incredibly talented and diverse public interest warriors to our board of directors. These efforts provided added value to our members and helped the organization grow in response to the needs of our community.

For 50 years, Washington Council of Lawyers has been a mainstay of the public interest community in DC. Paul summarized it this way, “If you think of our public interest community as a wall protecting our community, the public interest lawyers and pro bono volunteers are the bricks within that wall, then WCL is the mortar that keeps those bricks together, working in unison to provide strength and durability. Washington Council of Lawyers plays an important role in keeping our community together, bringing together lawyers and legal professionals from different sectors, all with a heart for bringing legal services to those who need them the most.”

Thank you Paul for helping us grow!

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