A Failed Stress Test: The Pandemic Exposes the D.C. Government’s Failure to Distribute Unemployment Benefits to People in Need
The COVID-19 pandemic caused many District of Columbia residents to lose their jobs and erased years of employment progress. In February 2020, just before the pandemic began, the District’s unemployment rate fell to a five-year low of 4.9 percent. Two months later, unemployment had more than doubled to 11.1 percent. Some of the people who lost their jobs have since found new jobs, but not nearly enough: As of May 2021, the unemployment rate was still 7.2 percent. Even worse, the District’s government has failed to ensure that people who lose their jobs receive the unemployment benefits to which they are entitled; those failures became especially conspicuous when the federal government expanded unemployment benefits during the pandemic. For many eligible people, the resulting loss of unemployment benefits has been devastating. Claimants have relied on unemployment aid to pay for food, rent, and other essentials; without the aid they may be forced to move elsewhere and they may lack secure access to food. The effects were especially severe for racial minorities. Even after the expanded unemployment benefits have expired, the District’s unemployment system remains dire.
DC Pro Bono Week 2021 takes place from October 24–30, and will offer lots of opportunities to do pro bono work, learn new pro bono skills, meet other pro bono lawyers, and expand your pro bono horizons. The full schedule of events is available here.
Elliot Mincberg served as board president during a time of increased advocacy. He shared these memories from his tenure as board president.
Washington Council of Lawyers is seeking a strong and driven leader to serve as its next Executive Director. The Executive Director’s primary duty is to advance the mission of Washington Council of Lawyers, as reflected in our Mission Statement: We are a voluntary bar association committed to ensuring that our legal system treats everyone fairly, regardless of money, position, or power. Our members represent the legal community’s diversity: They come from law firms, law schools, private and nonprofit organizations, and the government. We promote pro bono and public-interest law—by building partnerships among the public, private, and nonprofit sectors; volunteering to provide legal services to those who need them; training and mentoring the next generation of public-interest advocates; and supporting policies that expand access to justice. The Executive Director is our key management leader and reports to the Board of Directors. Specifically, the Executive Director is responsible for leading our organization in: Achieving its mission/furthering its reputation by offering outstanding programs, training sessions, advocacy, mentoring, and community-building opportunities with our working Board Communicating with and supporting our Board of Directors and committees Communicating with our members and external outreach, through inter alia, our website and social media platforms Executing fundraising initiatives Working with Board members on the annual budget and financial reporting Supervising and managing two staff members Engaging in relevant advocacy before the DC government and other authorities, and Helping to ensure legal compliance Qualifications and Desired Experience: JD preferred Two or more years of non-profit management experience Ability to set agendas, advance the organization’s mission, and build a strong team of board and staff members Familiarity with budgeting, strategic planning, and nonprofit management Detail-oriented, well-organized, and able to work independently Strong time and task management skills Strong communications and interpersonal skills A strong commitment to our mission and to professionalism Basic knowledge of, or ability to learn, Microsoft Office including Word and Excel; Google platforms including Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Forms, Google Drive; and WordPress Familiarity with Wild Apricot membership software and WordPress or similar database and website software is a plus Familiarity with social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn and Hootsuite social media software Notes: (1) This job includes occasional transport of supplies and materials to events, etc.; reasonable accommodations will be made if the candidate is unable to perform such functions; (2) This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of key job functions, and job duties may change over time based on organizational needs. Hours and Compensation: The Executive Director position is part-time, averaging at least 30 hours per week; he/she/they manage their own time and hours with availability generally required during regular business hours. Working from home and telecommuting is part of how we work. Occasional evening work is required to assist with evening programs. We are willing to explore moving to a full-time position at a later date. The salary range for this position, on a part-time basis, is $60,000 to $75,000. A broader package of benefits is currently being considered for this position. Washington Council of Lawyers is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability status, or any applicable characteristics protected by law. How to Apply: Interested persons are encouraged to apply immediately and should submit a letter of interest and resume in one PDF document to email@example.com, with “[Full Name] – Executive Director” as the subject of the email. Applications will be reviewed as they are submitted. The position remains open until filled.
Washington Council of Lawyers is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, and throughout these celebrations, we’ve reminisced about our many success stories. The Mentoring Program is one of these successes. Throughout the years, the Mentoring Program has fostered one-on-one mentoring relationships, hosted various networking events and training sessions, and brought together our public-interest community in a unique way. The Mentoring Program positively impacts many members’ experience with Washington Council of Lawyers, and both mentors and mentees love remembering the programs’ past and looking forward to the program’s future. Multiple leaders of the program throughout the years shared some of their fondest memories of this incredible program.
All practicing lawyers in Washington, DC share an ethical commitment to offer free or reduced-fee legal services to the many people in our community who are denied justice or otherwise marginalized by the inability to afford good counsel. This service commitment applies across all practice areas and includes lawyers in private practice, in government, in non-profits, in academia, in associations, and those working for our city’s many strong legal services providers. In this sense, Washington Council of Lawyers has a much broader constituency than other voluntary bar associations. So, whether you practice corporate law or criminal law, trade law or family law, whether you regularly litigate in DC courts or have never seen the inside of a courtroom, and whether you are a solo practitioner or work for an organization with hundreds of employees, you have a professional home with us.