By Gregory M. Lipper Public-interest lawyers can and did learn a lot from Judge Patricia Wald, who died at age 90 on January 12. Many knew her as a giant of the District’s bar and bench—an influential writer turned successful public-interest litigator turned pathbreaking federal judge turned international war-crimes jurist. Fewer, perhaps, know that she was one of the lawyers who founded our own organization, Washington Council of Lawyers, in the early 1970s. Through it all, she marched to the beat of her own drummer, retaining a zeal for helping vulnerable people, a refreshing sense of humility and candor, and a willingness to push hard—and tell people what they didn’t want to hear—on behalf of society’s most vulnerable.
By Aoife Delargy This spring, law students from American University, Catholic University, Georgetown, and George Washington University sponsored the DC Alternative Spring Break Pro Bono Service Project. Held for two weeks last March, students from these local law schools spent their spring breaks engaged in hands-on, legal volunteer work. (more…)
By Maureen Thomas Major General Mike Nardotti (US Army, Retired and former The Judge Advocate General, US Army) is a Senior Partner at Squire Patton Boggs. The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program recently recognized Mike for over 20 years of service to veterans and their families, caregivers and survivors, as a member of TVC’s National Volunteer Corps. Over the past 25 years, lawyers like Mike from Squire Patton Boggs have supported The Veterans Consortium with over 92 engagements in federal courts, participated in specialized Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims trainings, and assisted TVC in dramatically improving our ability to provide free legal services to veterans and their loved ones. (more…)
Kaley, age 13, was living with her grandmother in El Salvador when local gangs began to target her and her family. Her grandmother owns a local diner where neighborhood police officers and prosecutors often ate; as a result, gang members decided that she was pro-government and anti-gang. Gang members assaulted Kaley’s grandmother and targeted Kaley, threatening to kidnap and assault her. Kaley fled the country. (more…)
By Children's Law Center Sleigh bells ring, judge is listening—is not your typical holiday medley. But it provided the soundtrack last December for five-year-old Charlie Young while Alexis DeBernardis, his pro bono counsel, fought for him in his custody case. (Names have been changed to protect client anonymity.) Alexis is an associate at Crowell & Moring, but she also volunteers as a pro bono lawyer with Children’s Law Center (CLC). (more…)
By Priya Konings Representing unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children is challenging, and Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) is always looking for pro bono lawyers with the time, patience, and enthusiasm to handle a pro bono immigration case for our clients. When Lara Burke of Bruch Hanna came to us, we knew that we'd found someone who could rise to the occasion. (more…)
By Melanie Orhant Ryan Guilds is a lawyer at Arnold & Porter Kay Scholer and board chair of Network for Victim Recovery of DC (NVRDC). Over the past eighteen years, he's found that pro bono work offers the chance to do "that not only feels good but also gives you skills as a lawyer." And Ryan has done pro bono work in spades. Ryan's pro bono work started before he was actually a lawyer. While a 1L at the University of North Carolina School of Law, he worked on capital cases and developed an interest in prisoner's rights. (more…)
By Jodi Feldman and Neesa Sethi Earlier this year, David Young, an antitrust associate at Ropes & Gray, received the Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence from the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. Over the past six years, David has been one of Legal Aid’s most active pro bono volunteers: He's regularly taken on Social Security Disability Insurance/Supplement Security Income (SSDI/SSI) cases and other public benefits matters referred from Legal Aid and other legal-services organizations. (more…)
By Vanessa Batters-Thompson Katie Towt and Ahuva Battams do not hide from challenges. In April, they made an extraordinary commitment to representing a pro bono client, Ms. E, in her custody case—with only one month to prepare for a trial scheduled to take place over three days. Ms. E had tried for several months to find counsel, and she struggled to understand court procedures and rules while her children’s father—who sought sole custody of the parties' young children—was represented by an experienced (and well-paid) lawyer. The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center’s Advocacy & Justice Clinic recognized that Ms. E was at a tremendous disadvantage and tried to find a lawyer for Ms. E, despite the tight timeline. Fortunately, Katie and Ahuva understood Ms. E’s predicament and got to work right away. “For me, it is the duty of every attorney to help represent people in need," said Ahuva. "I am never too busy to help. I go home to a safe environment with a family who loves me, and I want to give others that safe environment, too.” (more…)
By Megan Jeffery We all, at times, get disenchanted by the daily grind. Sometimes it's nice to break up the monotony by exploring something new—perhaps sparing an hour or two to investigate something new could inspire you or someone else. With DC Pro Bono Week 2017, Washington Council of Lawyers is offering an opportunity to explore other aspects of the law, in a way that is concise and manageable. Events include: trainings, a happy hour, tours of pro bono sites, a cocktail hour, legal clinics, a luncheon, and a panel. Subject areas include: landlord-tenant, domestic violence, probate, small business, family law, veterans law, children’s law, expungements, and immigration. There is something for everyone. (more…)
This year six fine lawyers are joining our Board of Directors: Emily Batt is an associate in the Employment Law Department at Paul Hastings and also serves as the Pro Bono Coordinator for the firm's DC office. Before moving to the District, Emily attended University of Virginia School of Law, worked with the Legal Aid Justice Center and Migrant Farmworker Project, and coordinated UVA’s Immigration Law Program. Emily and her fiancé Noah enjoy hiking and camping with their dog, Liam (recently featured on The Dogs of Public Interest Law). (more…)
This week the White House released its $1.15 trillion budget—which, among other things, that targets domestic programs and calls for eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts, low-income heating assistance, and the AmeriCorps national-service program; it would also reduce funding for, among other things, Environmental Protection Agency, medical research, help for homeless veterans, and community-development grants. Another agency on the chopping block is the Legal Services Corporation (LSC). In FY16, Congress gave LSC $385 million—less than one-ten-thousandth of the federal budget. Our court systems are not designed for people to go it alone; cutting or eliminating LSC funding would especially harm the elderly, victims of domestic violence, veterans, tenants, and those in rural areas. And in many places, LSC-funded legal-aid organizations are the only sources of civil-legal services.
By Cheryl Polydor "Think globally, act locally." The two increasingly have become one in this age of the global village and the global economy. Local lawyers and judges interested in promoting justice beyond U.S. borders now can do so without leaving home. They also can work directly in the field—whether that means traveling to rural Mexico or North Darfur, Sudan. (more…)