Traditional trial advocacy requires preparation, a mastery of the law and facts of a case, and the ability to persuasively communicate. Effective virtual trial advocacy requires these skills AND a mastery of technology and procedures that may be unfamiliar to even the most seasoned litigator. It's no wonder the continued use of remote hearings may be intimidating to many lawyers. How can you effectively build your case when you are not in the same room with your fact-finder and witnesses? With a mixture of lecture and demonstration, expert litigator Phil Andonian will reveal best practices and etiquette for remote hearings and discuss tips for effectively operating remotely. Phil Andonian is an experienced trial lawyer and Co-Founder of Caleb Andonian PLLC. He has nearly 20 years of litigation experience in criminal defense, labor and employment law, and personal injury law. Phil has tried more than two dozen cases to verdict and has helped many clients through the complexities of civil discovery and motions practice. He also regularly represents clients in administrative hearings and arbitrations. This training is appropriate for public-interest, law firm, in-house, and government lawyers of all experience levels who have or will have to appear virtually. Scholarships are available thanks to the generosity of the D.C. Bar Foundation. Email Nancy Lopez to apply.
By Heather Krick On Wednesday, December 9, 2020, we hosted Spotlight on Evictions, a virtual conversation with Emily Benfer, Chair of the ABA's Covid-19 Taskforce on Evictions. First, the program opened with remarks from current ABA President Patricia Lee Refo. Tricia acknowledged that the United States is facing an unprecedented need for pro bono lawyering and reminded us that lawyers can help limit the number of evictions. She discussed the ABA's advocacy in Congress for a renewed moratorium on evictions. The draft stimulus bill, which Congress is set to pass shortly, includes an extension of the national eviction moratorium through January 2021. She also thanked the many lawyers who have taken on pro bono cases during the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, Taryn Wilgus Null, government attorney and member of the Washington Council of Lawyers Board of Directors, moderated a discussion with Emily about the eviction crisis, which already existed pre-pandemic and has only been exacerbated during the pandemic. The facts and context Emily provided are sobering. Before the novel coronavirus pandemic began, about 50% of the renter population (or 20.8 million families) were paying 30% of their income to rent. Seven evictions were filed every minute when the unemployment rate was at 4.7%. Racially discriminatory housing practices resulted in a lack of wealth accumulation among people of color who have approximately 1/12 of the wealth accumulation of their white counterparts. Emily highlighted the purpose and effect of eviction moratoriums. Currently, Washington, DC has a moratorium on evictions, but 31 states do not have strong protections in place. Earlier in the pandemic, in May, 43 states had protections in place against evictions. This is important because eviction filings spike within weeks after moratoriums end and protections cease. In some cities, filings rose 385%. The mere filing of an eviction case can lead to decreased housing stability. Regardless of the outcome of the case, the filing can lower credit scores, hinder loan eligibility, or create barriers to future employment. Connections Between Evictions and Health Inequity Emily then explained that the single greatest predictor of eviction is the presence of a child in the home. As a result, families are often the ones evicted from their homes. This can have negative consequences on health well into the future. She noted evictions are associated with health conditions in children such as emotional trauma, risk of chronic disease in adulthood, decreased life expectancy, setbacks in education, and food insecurity. Some conditions shown in women who are evicted include drug-use and related harms, pre-term pregnancy, and physical or sexual assault. She went on to demonstrate how evictions are also correlated with an increase in physical and mental health conditions, including higher mortality rates, higher blood pressure, respiratory conditions, sexually transmitted infections, depression, anxiety, mental health hospitalizations, and suicides. Additionally, evictions cause families to seek alternatives which include staying with relatives or friends. Emily elucidated how an increase in home size by just two people can double the exposure risk of respiratory infections like the novel coronavirus. An overcrowded residential environment also makes it difficult to adhere to CDC recommended COVID-19 protocols, such as increased hand washing, self-quarantining, wearing clean masks, sheltering in place, and social distancing. With a link between moratorium lifts and an increase in mortality rates, evictions frustrate efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Effects are stronger in states with weaker moratoriums. Some experts estimate that between May and September of 2020, evictions led to an additional 430,000 preventable cases of COVID-19 and 10,700 preventable deaths. Emily further explained that people of color are much more likely to be affected by evictions and their accompanying health impacts. During this past summer, African American renters had low or slight confidence in their ability to pay the next month's rent compared to white renters who consistently had high confidence in their ability to make rent payments. Black and Hispanic adults are dying at the same rates as white people who are a decade or older than them. What can we do? Emily had several suggestions for how lawyers can get involved. We need to freeze the initiation stage of evictions and ensure that the freeze applies to all renters. We can increase access to counsel for tenants in eviction cases. Without counsel, winnable cases more frequently default in the landlord's favor. We can create diversion programs that include a right to counsel. While there are rent relief programs available, the demand is so high that the funds get depleted within one day and sometimes in hours. Programs with funds still available are setting the bar too high for those in need to access the funds. Two actions that lawyers can take are to 1) take a pro bono eviction case, and 2) advocate for better fair housing policies. Emily highlighted one tax attorney in Texas who was so moved by the situation that they started taking pro bono cases and prevented four thousand evictions alone. After the pandemic is over, the work will have just begun. Legal representation in housing court can make a huge difference. In 2019, approximately 84% of tenants represented by counsel remained in their homes, and default judgments dropped by 34%. Pro bono lawyers will be more important than ever in helping families maintain secure housing. Hope for the Future Hope in this dark moment comes from remembering that many lawyers have already taken on pro bono cases and are continuing…
The past four years saw a sharp increase in pro bono energy. Volunteers responded passionately to Trump Administration policies that were seen as negatively impacting marginalized communities. As we approach the first days of the Biden Administration, pro bono coordinators are asking, what now? How will pro bono programs rebound from this ongoing period of issue whiplash and volunteer exhaustion? How can pro bono counsel redirect attention to the many local legal dilemmas affecting our neighbors? How will the legal community step up to meet the local legal needs that have been exacerbated during the pandemic? Will pro bono attorneys still feel motivated to rise to the occasion during this new, seemingly friendlier administration? Panelists: Daniel Cantor, Arnold & Porter, Partner & Pro Bono Committee Chair Laurie Ball Cooper, Ayuda, Legal Director Rebecca Troth, D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, Executive Director Nancy Drane, D.C. Access to Justice Commission, Executive Director Moderator: Paul Lee, Pro Bono Counsel, Steptoe & Johnson LLP Panelists will weigh in on what pro bono will look like in 2021 – a year of great uncertainty for low-income residents of DC. Dan Cantor will present on Arnold & Porter's impressive pandemic unemployment assistance project, launched in partnership with The Legal Aid Society for the District of Columbia. Laurie Ball Cooper of Ayuda will give insight into immigration concerns that will continue under the new administration. Becky Troth will discuss how local civil legal needs will skyrocket, while pro bono recruitment lags behind. And Nancy Drane will unveil the new DC Represents campaign, a citywide effort to recruit pro bono attorneys for pandemic-related relief projects. Best Practices in Pro Bono brings together pro bono directors at law firms, legal services organizations, corporations, and government agencies to share tips for improving their pro bono programs. There is no cost to attend. Sign up today!
Our Government Pro Bono Roundtable is the perfect opportunity to learn about doing pro bono work as a government lawyer. Pro bono work can be a rewarding part of a government career; you just need to be familiar with the resources, policies, and strategies that allow you to do the work effectively. At this lively discussion, you'll learn about established pro bono programs for government lawyers. Our pro bono experts will share why pro bono work is meaningful to them, tips for managing your schedule and finding the support you need, and info about the many different types of pro bono work available to government lawyers. Our panel will include: Josephine Bahn, FDIC Andy Doyle, U.S. Department of Justice Laura Klein, Pro Bono Program Manager, U.S. Department of Justice Prianka Sharma, Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration The panel will be moderated by Deborah Birnbaum, Assistant General Counsel at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and Washington Council of Lawyers board member. The government lawyer panelists will share their experiences from their personal perspectives in their individual capacities, and will not be speaking on behalf of their agencies. Pro bono is possible, even during a pandemic! Join us to find out how you can dive into pro bono work as a government lawyer!
That key document furthers your case only if you can get it into evidence. We'll show you how to do so at Litigation Skills Series: Exhibits & Evidentiary Foundations. Through lecture and demonstration, litigation experts Greg Lipper and Kate Oler will teach the basics of admitting evidence—including business records, charts, photos, ledgers, drawings, letters, emails, social media posts, and other documents. Greg Lipper is a partner at Clinton and Peed. He has extensive experience in criminal defense, business litigation, and First Amendment and media law, among many other areas of practice. He has represented parties or amici in over two-dozen cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Katherine Oler works at the United States Court of Federal Claims. Prior to her appointment to the Court, she served as an Air Force Judge Advocate where she primarily worked in the criminal litigation area. She has held positions as first-chair felon prosecutor, a defense attorney, and a trial judge. She also brings many years of trial advocacy teaching experience. This training is appropriate for public-interest, law firm, in-house, and government lawyers, as well as law students who have taken evidence and have trial-practice or mock-trial experience. CLE credit is pending but not guaranteed in CA, NY, and VA. Reciprocal credit in other jurisdictions may be available. Scholarships are available thanks to the generosity of the D.C. Bar Foundation. Email Nancy Lopez to apply.