Individuals living in poverty face numerous issues both legal and non-legal every day. In these uncertain and rapidly-changing times, those at or below the federal poverty level are being disproportionally displaced, harassed, and abused. Lawyers who practice in this area have to employ both traditional techniques and creative problem-solving methods to ensure the best outcomes for their clients. The areas of law the legal issues touch upon – landlord tenant, consumer, family – have the highest rate of pro se litigants and can produce some of the most life-changing outcomes. Representation is vital in these areas, and the need is overwhelming. Pro bono lawyers who take on these cases can be life-savers. Join us on Tuesday, July 14 at noon for the second in our series of five breakout panels exploring the means to incorporate pro bono into your professional life and avenues to support under-represented individuals.
Not all battles are won in the courtroom. As many know, litigation is lengthy, costly, and in many instances, not needed. One study found upwards of 92 percent of cases settle out of court, and in fact, for many litigants, trying to reach an out of court settlement is better for both parties. Pro bono attorneys play a crucial role not only in helping pre-trial settlement agreements reach fruition, and in making sure that both parties are adequately represented, but also in a host of other transactional law matters from ensuring that clients are complying with statutes and regulations, to advocating for policies that will bring about needed change and reform to our legal system.
The recent killings of Black men and women coupled with the disproportionate number of deaths in the Black community due to COVID-19 have rocked our nation. Across the country, lawyers are brainstorming and banding together to develop creative and impactful methods to assist the Black community. I challenge the legal profession to start in-house at our own firms and organizations by becoming mentors and sponsors to Black lawyers.
2020 has been a doozy of a year. Pro bono and public-interest lawyers normally are stretched thin due to the challenging nature of the work they do and the limited resources they have to support their work. Many in the public-interest community experience secondary trauma when they are indirectly exposed to the traumas that their clients experience. This can be a complicated situation to navigate even under normal circumstances. This year, the challenges of pro bono and public-interest work are amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. To help, we have signed on to to the ABA Lawyer Well-Being Pledge and are offering opportunities for our members to connect and de-stress, as well as resources, tips, and informative articles for people who want to learn more about how to stay well while navigating a stressful profession.
You may be binge-watching bad Netflix series . . . but you could be inspired by these Washington Council of Lawyers greatest hits instead!
Improper or fraudulent service of process has become know as “sewer service.” Sewer service in the District of Columbia’s Landlord-Tenant Court means that defendants do not appear for court because they do not know about their case. Advocates in DC are mobilizing to address this issue.
The RRH Program was designed to help homeless families (with children) become self-sufficient by giving them rental assistance and case management for a period of one year. However, for my client, and many others, the reality is something very different. My experience only touched the tip of the ice berg when it comes to these issues, but it was enough to open my eyes and get me to commit to doing more pro bono work and advocacy work on behalf of the homeless, and families in need. Everyone deserves the right to an adequate place to live, and no young child should have to fear not having a place to sleep at night.
This month we co-hosted Becoming a Judge. Held at the D.C. Court of Appeals, the event gave attendees the opportunity to network with current judges, as well as hear from a panel of judges about their pathways to the bench and tips for applying. Some of the points raised by the judges aligned perfectly with the Council’s mission of promoting pro bono and public interest law in the District.