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Superior Court Domestic Violence Division

The Superior Court’s Domestic Violence Division adjudicates civil and criminal domestic violence matters, including Civil Protection Order (CPO) cases. A person can file a petition for a CPO against someone who has committed or threatened to commit an “intrafamily offense,” sexual assault, sexual abuse, or sex or labor trafficking against them.

Superior Court Domestic Relations Branch

The Domestic Relations Branch (DRB) is part of the Superior Court’s Family Court and hears custody, divorce, legal separation, annulment, and adoption cases, as well as child support requested in a custody or divorce case. Child custody cases make up the majority of DRB cases for which legal services organizations are seeking pro bono counsel.

Superior Court Debt Collection Calendar

The Superior Court maintains a “debt collection calendar” within the Civil Division that consists of two case types: (1) collection cases involving consumer debts like credit card debt, loans, condominium and homeowner’s association fees, and medical debt; and (2) insurance subrogation cases in which an auto insurer (such as GEICO) seeks to recover from the uninsured owner or driver after an automobile accident with an insured vehicle.

Algorithmic Justice Part 2: Legal Tools and Strategies to Navigating Automated Decision Making

Join us for our hot topics panel, Algorithmic Justice Part 2: Legal Tools and Strategies to Navigating Automated Decision Making . This panel is a continuation of a conversation that began as a part of our Racial Justice Series. The first part discussed how algorithms appear in the law and ways they have and may continue having a negative impact on the lives of those they affect. Part two will dive further into the tools and strategies that exist in the law and ways we may improve what's available to lawyers through legislation and advocacy. This panel consists of litigators, legislators, and analysts who have their finger on the pulse of this issue. Our panel is moderated by Bardia Bastin and Sébastien Monzón Rueda and includes: Grant Fergusson (EPIC), Kevin de Liban (Arkansas Legal Aid), Samantha Gerleman (AARP Foundation), and a representative from D.C.'s OAG's Office. Spread the word and join the conversation on social media using #DCPBW23.

Graphic: DC Superior Court Open House

D.C. Superior Court Open House

Have you ever been to D.C. Superior Court?  Have you met a Superior Court Judge? Do you want to help DC residents of limited means in cases involving eviction, domestic violence or domestic relations? Join us for a D.C. Superior Court Open House where representatives from legal services organizations and experienced pro bono counsel will introduce you to one of the Court’s high-volume branches. You’ll observe court proceedings, speak with Superior Court Judges, and learn how you can help expand access to justice and improve the everyday lives of individuals and families in our community. You can choose to visit the Domestic Relations Branch, the Domestic Violence Division, or the Landlord and Tenant Branch. Please note this event involves a moderate amount of standing and walking inside and outside.  If attendees have any accommodation needs or questions, please contact Jodi Feldman at Spread the word and invite a friend. We look forward to welcoming you!

Pro Bono Goes Green: Finding Pro Bono Work that Helps the Environment

This year has seen everything from haze to hurricanes. Like us, you may want to know how to use your legal expertise to make a positive impact on climate change and environmental justice efforts. Our panel of experts will discuss how you can make a difference for the environment through litigation, advocacy, hands-on non-legal volunteer opportunities, and more! You will leave with tangible ideas and practical ways you can get involved! Our panel will be moderated by Fiona Herzig, Juris Doctor Candidate, Pace University and our speakers includes: Lawrence Pittman - Assistant Regional Counsel - EPA Region 6 Kristine Perry, Staff Attorney, Environmental Law Institute Samuel Krauss, Litigation Fellow, Animal Legal Defense Fund Spread the word and join the conversation on social media using #DCPBW23.

Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) DC Office Introduction and Open House

Please visit KIND’s DC Field Office at 1411 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington DC 20005 for an open house and introduction to KIND’s work and pro bono opportunities representing unaccompanied immigrant children! Learn more about the U.S. immigration system, getting advocacy experience, and providing valuable pro bono legal representation for a vulnerable child facing deportation. Lunch will be provided. Space is limited, so please register if you plan to attend!

Paths to Special Immigration Juvenile Status (SIJS) Relief in DC

Join KIND's DC Field Office for a webinar for a discussion regarding two primary paths to SIJS through the DC Superior Court. We will provide a brief overview of SIJS, review parental and third-party custody proceedings, and discuss the new DC Vulnerable Youth Guardianship (VYG) Protection Act. We will provide practice guidance on preparing pleadings,  filing in the Family Court of the DC Superior Court, and considerations for working with unaccompanied youth and their families. Spread the word and join the conversation on social media using #DCPBW23.

Going Public, Staying Public

Pursuing a career in public interest allows advocates to support their community through direct, meaningful work. Now that student loan payments are starting again, how can those public interest attorneys continue doing incredible work while enjoying their life and paying back their loans? This is what we will discuss at Going Public, Staying Public, a candid conversation on navigating law school loans on a public interest salary. Our discussion will be moderated by Jennifer Tshirch (Georgetown Law) and our panel of experts includes: Stephanie Johnson, Director of Externships and Public Interest Programming, Howard University Aoife Delargy Lowe, Vice President of Law School Engagement and Advocacy, Equal Justice Works Deborah Cuevas Hill,  Supervising Attorney, Legal Aid DC Marissa LaVette, Assistant Staff Counsel, Center for Pro Bono, American Bar Association Spread the word and join the conversation on social media using #DCPBW23.

It Takes A Village: Highlighting the Value of Pro Bono Representation in Family Law

Hosted by Children’s Law Center, D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, Mother’s Outreach Network, and Rising for Justice. Please join us for a lively panel discussion on the need for pro bono representation in cases impacting families. This panel will discuss challenges individuals face in securing representation and dispel myths about who our clients are. Panelists will share their experiences representing parents, third-party caregivers, and the best interests of children. We’ll also be joined by D.C. Superior Court Judge Wellner who will share his view from the bench. Come learn why access to justice in family law means everyone has a lawyer. Attendees will receive information about how they can get involved, ranging from limited scope to extended representation. Registrants will receive a Zoom link in advance of the event. Our discussion will be moderated by Jen Masi (Children’s Law Center) and participants will hear from the below panelists: Amanda Henderson (Rising for Justice) Jenadee Nanini (D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center) Melody Webb (Mother’s Outreach Network) The Honorable Steven Wellner (D.C. Superior Court) Spread the word and join the conversation on social media using #DCPBW23.

D.C. Superior Court Open House

Have you ever been to D.C. Superior Court?  Have you met a Superior Court Judge?  Do you want to help DC residents of limited means in cases involving eviction, domestic violence, domestic relations, debt collection, or housing conditions. Join us for a D.C. Superior Court Open House where representatives from legal services organizations and experienced pro bono counsel will introduce you to one of the Court’s high-volume branches. You’ll observe court proceedings, speak with Superior Court Judges, and learn how you can help expand access to justice and improve the everyday lives of individuals and families in our community. On October 24, you can choose  to visit the Domestic Relations Branch, the Domestic Violence Division, the Landlord and Tenant Branch, the Housing Conditions Calendar, or the Debt Collection Calendar. On November 2, you can choose to visit the Domestic Relations Branch, the Domestic Violence Division, or the Landlord and Tenant Branch. Want to visit two different courts? Join us for both days! Please note this event involves a moderate amount of standing and walking inside and outside.  If attendees have any accommodation needs or questions, please contact Jodi Feldman at We look forward to welcoming you! Spread the word and join the conversation on social media using #DCPBW23.

DC Pro Bono Week Expungement Clinic

Please join us for an in-person limited scope expungement clinic to help low-income DC residents seal their criminal records on October 25th from 9am -12pm at Fried Frank. Having a criminal record can negatively impact a person's ability to gain employment, pursue education opportunities, and their overall mental health. Sealing eligible records can help people pursue a much needed fresh start. Volunteers will work with clients from Christian Legal Aid of DC (CLADC) to gather relevant background information to be included in their motions to seal. We will provide training the morning of the clinic and will have CLADC staff available to answer any questions throughout the day. We welcome lawyers, paralegals, and law students to join us. All business professionals will be paired with a licensed lawyer. There is limited space available. We look forward to seeing you there! Spread the word and join the conversation on social media using #DCPBW23.  

NVLSP Veterans Discharge Upgrade File Review Project Presentation

The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) will present a one hour training on discharge upgrades and NVLSP’s limited scope discharge upgrade file review project. This limited scope pro bono opportunity enables volunteers to review and screen the files of veterans who have applied to NVLSP for pro bono assistance with a discharge upgrade. NVLSP’s Lawyers Serving Warriors® discharge upgrade program assists veterans in applying to upgrade their characterization of service, for example from “Other Than Honorable” (OTH) to a more favorable characterization such as “Honorable” or “General (Under Honorable Conditions)”. A discharge upgrade may help veterans receive VA benefits and health care, improve employment opportunities, and restore reputation and self-esteem. Many veterans served through this project have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), or other mental health conditions that are related to military service. Many veterans served through this program are survivors of Military Sexual Trauma. NVLSP screens every applicant to its discharge upgrade program before referring the matter to a pro bono partner for full representation. The file review project tasks volunteers with conducting a preliminary screen by reviewing and analyzing the files of clients who have applied for a discharge upgrade so that NVLSP screening attorneys are able to review the files more quickly. This project is primarily administrative in nature and can be completed by attorneys or non-attorneys alike. Pro bono volunteers create a Word table or Excel spreadsheet cataloging the client files and return the file review work product to NVLSP within about one month of acceptance of the matter. The project is remote and can be completed anywhere. Pro bono volunteers will agree to abide by the NVLSP confidentiality agreement. The estimated time commitment is 10-15 hours per project, and volunteers may work in teams. NVLSP’s DC pro bono week presentation is open to all. However, government attorneys may not accept NVLSP discharge upgrade file review matters and NVLSP discharge upgrade file review pro bono opportunities are limited. Spread the word and join the conversation on social media using #DCPBW23.

Meeting Our Clients Where They Are: Serving Families East of the Anacostia River

Hosted by Children's Law Center at the Children's Health Center - Anacostia This event will provide participants with an opportunity to meet and engage in our client community.  CLC staff will discuss their legal services work east of the Anacostia River and the importance of pro bono in serving D.C. neighbors.  Participants will hear about CLC’s medical-legal partnership, how lawyers can address non-medical barriers to health, the benefits of co-locating legal services with non-lawyer professionals, and how you can get involved.  Space is limited. Spread the word and join the conversation on social media using #DCPBW23.

Justice for All: Bridging the Gap Between Pro Bono & Low Bono Services

Join us on Friday, October 27, from 12:00-1:30 pm via Zoom to learn more about the broad landscape of legal services in the District of Columbia. Pro bono and public interest lawyers need to know where they can refer clients who earn too much to qualify to receive free legal services, and low bono lawyers need to know about resources that can help clients of all income levels. This fast-paced introduction to the work of several District legal services providers will put the facts you need to know at your fingertips! Don't miss this jam-packed hour of useful information! Spread the word and join the conversation on social media using #DCPBW23.

Graphic: Litigation Skills Series Mediation

Litigation Skills Series: Mediation

SOLD OUT! Waitlist Available. We are excited to again offer our Mediation Skills Training on Tuesday, October 10, from 12:00-3:00 pm. Mediation is an important skill to learn as it can effectively resolve disputes with minimal costs and significant advantages to both parties in a wide variety of types of cases. The training begins with a presentation focused on mediation and negotiation theory. Stephen Altman,  principal of Altman Dispute Resolution Services, is an accomplished negotiator, mediator, and litigator who has resolved multi-million-dollar government-commercial disputes and diverse civil conflicts.  He is a mediator for the DC Superior Court and the US Court of Appeals for DC and teaches courses in negotiation. Stephen has worked with government agencies, commercial enterprises, and non-profit organizations. He will explore tips for effective client preparation, using leverage in negotiations, and identifying the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA). Then, each participant will have the opportunity to participate in two different mock mediation sessions of a typical landlord/tenant case. In one mediation, participants will play the role of the lawyer representing one of the parties, and in the other, they will play the role of the client. The meditations will be conducted by experienced mediators, including from the Multi-door Dispute Resolution Division of the D.C. Superior Court. This is not a CLE training. Seats at this training are limited, so save your spot today!

Fellowships 101 Recap

On July 13, current fellows and fellowship program administrators provided insight into the fellowships process at Fellowships 101. The conversation touched on why folks choose to pursue fellowships, the application process for different programs, important considerations when looking for programs and host organizations, and helpful tips and tricks for applying! We concluded the conversation with a presentation from NALP on the PSJD. 

Supreme Court: View from the Press Gallery Recap

On Tuesday, July 11th, we welcomed lawyers, interns, and law students to our 35th annual “Supreme Court: View from the Press Gallery” event. This event peels back the curtain on the recently concluded Supreme Court term through the eyes of the journalists who have covered the Court for decades. We were excited to welcome everyone back in person for the first time since 2019!

Summer Lunch & Learn: Navigating the Invisible Barrier to Justice Part 1

This event is co-sponsored by Amara Legal Center and NVRDC. Join us for a two-part series on navigating the invisible barriers to justice that clients experience when seeking to exercise their legal rights. These introductory discussions will give insight into the client experience when they try to navigate the legal system after experiencing a lifetime of trauma or one extremely traumatic event. Being mindful of centering your client takes practice and can be tricky to navigate. Join us for this candid discussion to see examples and ask questions about assisting clients with trauma and experiencing trafficking in a safe environment with experts from the legal field. Part One will cover initial contact with a client, whether that be with a paraprofessional, first-time lawyer, or pro bono volunteer. This panel will kick off with a roleplay exercise that illustrates common examples. Our panel will roleplay the scenario and then move into a discussion on identifying and responding to trauma at the point of first contact. This panel will take place Wednesday, July 19 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm. Part Two will focus on identifying human trafficking and sex trafficking as an underlying issue in any practice area. The goal of this training is to familiarize all legal and paraprofessionals with the signs of trafficking and how to respond when navigating the client relationship and supporting their client holistically. This panel will take place Wednesday, August 16 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM. Both sessions are appropriate for new and experienced attorneys, pro bono professionals, law students and other legal professionals such as paralegals and legal assistants that participate in the intake and fact collection process of a case. Join our conversation on social media using #LunchLearn.

2023 Summer Forum: Opportunities and Challenges Facing Immigrant Communities

Our Summer Forum concluded with our Immigration and Human Rights Panel on the afternoon of June 22, 2023! Thank you to everyone that joined us this summer for this incredible event! This panel focused on how someone can get involved in immigration work as a career path or as a volunteer. The ways immigration work has changed or remained the same in recent years and what contributed to those circumstances. Finally, the ways immigration and human rights intersect with other important considerations such as racism and systemic injustice. 

2023 Summer Forum: Where Zealous Representation is Life Saving.

Following the Poverty Law Panel we welcomed our experts on the Criminal Law and Death Penalty Panel. The conversation highlighted the many ways lawyers can make an impact in the criminal legal system on both a systemic and individual level, the practical impact of past and recent Supreme Court decisions, and ways to center self-care when providing zealous representation in tough situations. 

2023 Summer Forum: Assisting Individuals and Communities in Need

Our Summer Forum substantive panels continued on Thursday, June 15 with the Poverty Law Panel. This conversation focused on career paths in poverty law, the intersection of poverty law and racial justice as well as access to justice and concluded with tips for how to get involved wherever you are! 

2023 Summer Forum: NEW! Ways to Protect Our World!

On June 8, 2023, we hosted our first-ever Environmental Justice panel during our Summer Public Interest and Pro Bono Forum. The lively discussion covered the work our panelists do and how they find opportunities to include environmental justice (EJ) in that work every day. Then panelists dove into what EJ means to them, including what EJ work is at its very core. The panelists provided tips for creating an EJ practice and getting involved with pro bono work that helps the environment! Our conversation also highlighted the importance of community-based advocacy and how EJ intersects with racism in the world and the law. Finally, our panelists concluded with practical tips on how to do EJ while working for the government and how to lobby for EJ issues.

2023 Summer Forum: Making a Big Impact on the Non-Litigation Path

When considering pro bono opportunities, you may instinctively think of navigating the court system with a client. What you may not think of are the wide and varying opportunities to engage in non-litigation pro bono work. Our Non-litigation Pro Bono panel provided an informational discussion on how to get involved with non-litigation pro bono opportunities during our Summer Forum panel on June 8, 2023.
2023 Summer Forum Keynote Nicole Austin-Hillery

2023 Keynote Conversation with Nicole Austin-Hillery

Washington Council of Lawyers’ Annual Summer Forum began on June 7 with an inspiring and enlightening discussion by keynote speaker Nicole Austin-Hillery. Nicole is the President & CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc., and a former Washington Council of Lawyers President and Board Member. Nicole was joined in conversation by current Washington Council of Lawyers President Debbie Cuevas Hill, Supervising Attorney at Legal Aid DC. During her opening remarks, Nicole covered her journey, as a way to inspire everyone to follow a purposeful path on their own personal and professional journeys. Nicole shared her “Nikki-isms”, guiding principles that have helped her on her journey, you can find the complete list below. 

Volunteer at the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center’s Advice & Referral Clinic (November 2023)

DC Pro Bono Week always inspires creative ways to get involved! We hope it's inspired you to discover pro bono opportunities like the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center's Advice & Referral Clinic! Volunteer on Saturday, November 18th to gain experience in serving the D.C. community in a variety of matters! At the clinic, you'll provide brief advice (and referrals) to people who otherwise wouldn't have access to legal help. We meet at Bread for the City's Michelle Obama Southeast Center, at 1700 Good Hope Road SE. Parking is available. New for this clinic, we are also meeting at the D.C. Bar Building, at 901 Fourth St NW. Please arrive at 9:00 am, a brief orientation takes place at 9:15 am, and volunteers are asked to stay until the last client is seen, usually at least 3:00 pm. There's no time commitment beyond the clinic itself. As a volunteer attorney, you'll answer questions about consumer law, family law, housing law, public benefits, bankruptcy, and other topics. You don't need to be an expert in these areas of law: D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center staff and expert mentors will be on hand to help. You do need to be a member of the D.C. Bar, or a federal government attorney barred in another state to participate. The deadline to volunteer is Thursday, November 9th by 5:00 pm ET. Once you register to attend, our Program Director and volunteer coordinator, Chris Marin, will be in touch with additional details.

Summer Intern/Summer Associate Social Hour

Take a break! Join other public-interest-minded lawyers, summer associates, summer interns, and law students for a well-deserved opportunity to connect. We will discuss expectations for a successful summer and whatever else is on your mind. The Summer Happy Hour will be held at Penn Quarter Sports Tavern. PQST is located at 639 Indiana Ave NW. Across from the Archives-Navy Memorial Metro Stop (Green & Yellow Lines), or just three blocks from the Gallery Place-Chinatown Station (Green, Yellow, & Red line), or just three blocks from the Federal Triangle Station (Blue, Orange, & Silver lines). Metered parking is available on the surrounding streets.

2023 Summer Forum Preview: Human Rights & Immigration Law Panel

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...." Such reads the inscription on the Statute of Liberty, the sight that many of the early immigrants of the United States first saw. Our country is a beautiful mixing bowl of different cultures, beliefs, and nationalities, thanks in large part to centuries of immigrants coming to the United States hoping to make a better life for themselves and their families. That dream of a better life still rings true in the hearts of those seeking to immigrate here today. However, for those new to the United States, navigating a foreign legal system can be a treacherous undertaking. That's where immigration lawyers become essential. This panel will give you insight into what the field of immigration law looks like today and opportunities in which you can provide assistance.

2023 Summer Forum Preview: Civil Rights & Civil Liberties

The Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Panel will explore the critical role that lawyers play in protecting individuals' fundamental rights. Although there are legal safeguards that prevent discrimination in many parts of our daily lives, these rights can often go unprotected and ignored without the help of pro bono and public interest attorneys. Our Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Panel will give attendees a glimpse at the great need for talented lawyers in this field and showcase ways that you can help protect individual rights.
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