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Racial Justice Series: Racism By Design Was A Wide-Reaching Discussion

Racial Justice Series: Racism By Design Was A Wide-Reaching Discussion

Racial segregation persists in America. On Tuesday, October 20, the Washington Council of Lawyers sponsors a timely discussion among a panel of experts examining both the historical and the present dimensions of racial segregation in housing. Specifically, the panelists discussed the myriad ways federal, state, and local policies have promoted structural racial inequality in education, public health, voting, criminal justice, and more.
Pro Bono Week 2020 Profile: Arnold & Porter Partners With Legal Aid To Tackle Covid-19 Unemployment Crisis

Pro Bono Week 2020 Profile: Arnold & Porter Partners with Legal Aid to Tackle Covid-19 Unemployment Crisis

he numbers are shocking. Within two weeks of Mayor Bowser declaring a public health emergency back in mid-March, nearly 28,000 District of Columbia workers had filed claims for unemployment insurance (UI) – more claims than had been filed in the entire previous fiscal year.  And that was just the beginning.  As of September 22, more than 145,000 jobless workers have filed UI claims in the District, a historic wave of unemployment. In response, Legal Aid has mobilized significant internal and pro bono resources to meet the increased need for legal help. A team from Arnold & Porter stepped up to provide significant assistance in the effort to protect these workers.
Pro Bono Week 2020 Profile: Brad Guest – Helping Entrepreneurs Achieve Their Life’s Dream

Pro Bono Week 2020 Profile: Brad Guest – Helping Entrepreneurs Achieve Their Life’s Dream

Brad Guest volunteers his time to support D.C.'s small businesses because for the clients "this is often their life's dream, something they've poured their time and energy into often exclusively for a long time. Receiving pro bono legal advice may be the only opportunity for these individuals to get answers to questions that could not only impact their business, but also their personal risk and liability."
Racial Justice Series Part 1: Racism By Design

Racial Justice Series Part 1: Racism By Design

Join us for the first of this year's three-part Racial Justice Series examining institutional racism and how to advocate for real and lasting change for our clients.  At our first event, our panel will examine both the history and the present reality of housing segregation and how federal, state, and local policies have affected and advanced systems of structural racial inequality in education, public health, voting, criminal justice, and more.
Pro Bono Week 2020 Profile: Williams & Connolly Team – Helping DC Families Secure Homes For Future Holidays

Pro Bono Week 2020 Profile: Williams & Connolly Team – Helping DC Families Secure Homes for Future Holidays

In December 2018, residents across the District were preparing for the holidays and enjoying the comfort of their warm homes. However, for those living in a Brightwood Park apartment complex, a fire broke out leaving six families without a place to call home. The children who lost their homes in the fire that night were not only traumatized – their health had been endangered by unsafe housing. Children's Law Center attorneys and investigators, led by Senior Supervising Attorney Kathy Zeisel, filed a complaint and secured temporary Red Cross shelter for the six families. But in an atypical moment for our organization, we brought in Williams & Connolly to co-counsel, knowing that an unusual case this size needed pro bono help from a team of fierce civil litigators. That team included firm associates Tracey A. Fung, Michaela Wilkes Klein and Tony Sheh, with partner Andy Keyes providing support and supervision.
Pro Bono Week 2020 Profiles: Kristin Whidby – Navigating A Path To Safety With DC Volunteer Lawyers Project

Pro Bono Week 2020 Profiles: Kristin Whidby – Navigating a Path to Safety with DC Volunteer Lawyers Project

Kristin Whidby is not a typical senior litigation associate. She handles complex IP, real estate, and securities litigation matters for a wide range of clients, but she does much more. She's also the mother of four young children, and in recent months has added the demands of managing remote learning to her other parental responsibilities. On top of all that, Kristin has continued to be an active volunteer for the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, providing direct representation to clients and serving on its Junior Board.
Pro Bono Week 2020 Profile: Anam Rahman – Making A Long-Term Difference In The Lives Of Immigrants

Pro Bono Week 2020 Profile: Anam Rahman – Making A Long-Term Difference In The Lives of Immigrants

Anam Rahman was instilled with the values of philanthropy, altruism, and empathy from a young age. As a fluent Spanish speaker, Anam has been volunteering at D.C.-based immigration clinics like the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center's Immigration Legal Advice & Referral Clinic and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.'s Board of Immigration Appeals Pro Bono Project for years. "Finding the time to volunteer and do pro bono work reminds me of why I became an immigration attorney in the first place: to help people and families," Anam said.
Pro Bono Week 2020 Profiles: Ellen Bass – Representing Unaccompanied Children Seeking Safety

Pro Bono Week 2020 Profiles: Ellen Bass – Representing Unaccompanied Children Seeking Safety

Globally, 2020 has been a difficult year and the immigration legal field has been no exception. Changes, such as new asylum rules, attempts to raise fees and alter filing procedures, and developments in case law, have made an already complex area of law much harder to navigate. The majority of unaccompanied children lack representation in their immigration cases. Representing unaccompanied immigrant children can be complicated, as the majority of these children come to the United States after surviving trauma and leaving families and communities behind to seek safety from unthinkable situations. Further, these children are placed in removal proceedings with no guaranteed access to counsel or an adult to speak on their behalf. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to add further stress on this already vulnerable population, as low-income living and working circumstances increase the risk of contracting the virus, children lose access to supports in educational settings, caretakers are unemployed, and community supports are more difficult to access. Ellen Bass has come out of retirement to help these children find peace and safety.
Pro Bono Week 2020 Profile: Gibson Dunn/Hewlett Packard Team Profoundly Changes Life Of Young Honduran Child

Pro Bono Week 2020 Profile: Gibson Dunn/Hewlett Packard Team Profoundly Changes Life of Young Honduran Child

Two of CAIR Coalition's longstanding pro bono partners, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, recently collaborated with each other and CAIR Coalition to profoundly change the life of a young Honduran child whom the government-held for nearly a year in prolonged immigration detention. In doing so, their teams of talented attorneys advanced cutting-edge litigation that will help many similarly situated children.
Welcome Shea Hazel! Our Fall 2020 Intern.

Welcome Shea Hazel! Our Fall 2020 Intern.

Shea Hazel joins the Washington Council of Lawyers as our virtual intern this fall.  Shea is from Boston, Massachusetts, and will proudly graduate UMass Law in May 2021.  She is a UMass Law Public Interest Law Fellow, Advisor to the Veterans Law Association, Vice President of the International Law Students Association, and a member of this year’s Phillip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition team. Shea serves in the United States Air Force Reserve in Washington, D.C. 
DC Pro Bono Week 2020: Schedule Of Events

DC Pro Bono Week 2020: Schedule of Events

  • September 29, 2020
  • Blog
DC Pro Bono Week 2020 takes place from October 25–31, 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.
DC Pro Bono Week 2020: Affiliated Trainings

DC Pro Bono Week 2020: Affiliated Trainings

  • September 29, 2020
  • Blog
In addition to the main DC Pro Bono Week events, a series of affiliated trainings will take place before, during, and after Pro Bono Week. Check out the full list for practice area and skill set refreshers.
In-House Pro Bono In The Time Of Covid-19 Recap And Volunteer Opportunities

In-House Pro Bono In The Time of Covid-19 Recap and Volunteer Opportunities

Washington Council of Lawyers co-sponsored and co-organized a timely and well attended virtual program, "In-House Pro Bono in the Time of Covid-19" on Wednesday, September 23, 2020. (Access the recording here.) Ninety-eight attendees heard presentations by seven legal service providers on currently unmet critical needs and virtual opportunities for in-house and other attorneys. We were proud to co-sponsor this event with the Association of Corporate Counsel of the National Capital Region, Corporate Pro Bono (CPBO) program from the Pro Bono Institute, and the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center.
Job Searching In 2020

Job Searching in 2020

If you're looking for a job right now, I want to offer solidarity and advice.  I just completed a job search this summer and I feel what you're going through.  You will pull through this.  In the meantime, I hope these resources can help. There are already many practical tips out there to help you apply for and interview for jobs remotely.
Family Law Assistance Network Newest Tool For Helping D.C. Families In Crisis.

Family Law Assistance Network newest tool for helping D.C. families in crisis.

In a time when there are many challenges and uncertainties facing the nation, it is important to recognize and celebrate the good in the world. Family Law Assistance Network (FLAN), a joint initiative between the DC Affordable Law Firm (DCALF), Legal Aid and the D.C. Pro Bono Center, is emblematic of that sentiment. FLAN, which opened at the end of March, in the midst of the pandemic, has already served over 200 litigants. Through this initiative, the DC Affordable Law Firm has been able to gain an even stronger presence and foothold East of the River as more than 50% of FLAN clients reside East of the River.
Clinical Experiences Remain Some Of The Most Impactful Of Law School.

Clinical experiences remain some of the most impactful of law school.

Some experiences are easily forgettable. Others stick with you. But a rare few mold you.  I can still recall walking into the Community Development Law (CDL) Clinic at the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law for the first time. At UDC Law, the clinical wing of the building is an exclusive area. It’s the cookie jar on top of the kitchen cabinet, out of reach until you’re tall enough to handle the weight. I did not expect to be nervous to start a class in law school.
Virtual Summer Program? A Positive Experience!

Virtual Summer Program? A Positive Experience!

This year, law firms, government agencies, and legal service organizations had to pivot to all-virtual summer internship programs. Virtual programming in general can be fraught with obstacles, but when you include multiple individuals located across the country, with varying access to technology, and no prior experience with an organization, you have a recipe for disaster. On August 6, we brought together interns and summer associates to celebrate the end of their summer programs and to find out how it went. The short answer was, "Great!"
Living And Studying Through The Unprecedented Age Of COVID-19

Living and Studying Through the Unprecedented Age of COVID-19

When Dean Renee Hutchins announced that our spring break would be extended due to worries over the COVID-19 global pandemic, to be honest, I was somewhat relieved. I would now be able to use the time that I had previously dedicated to commuting to and from school to catch up on work or sleep. Little did I know that my sense of relief would soon turn into horror when Dean Hutchins announced that we would move to remote learning indefinitely, which meant the second half of my 2L spring semester would be completed entirely at home. Now that I have completed my 2L year, I can confidently say that the biggest challenge I’m experiencing as a law student during COVID-19 is the lack of community. I didn’t realize the vital impact of campus life to my law school experience until I no longer had access to it. Prior to COVID-19, I utilized professor’s office hours frequently and benefited from in-person discussions of course material, client matters, and writing assignments. Before class, it was helpful to discuss a complex case or confusing concept with my colleagues, and after class, review important takeaways from the classroom discussion while studying in groups. Having an opportunity to engage with my colleagues outside of the classroom by participating in student organizations further solidified the strong sense of community at UDC Law.
Nominations Now Open For Our 2020 Legal Services And Government Pro Bono Awards!

Nominations now open for our 2020 Legal Services and Government Pro Bono Awards!

We are now accepting nominations for our 2020 Legal Services Award and Government Pro Bono Award. Each year at our Awards Ceremony, we recognize the extraordinary work of some of the District’s most dedicated public-interest and pro bono lawyers. Our 2020 Awards Ceremony will take place on Thursday, December 3. Our Legal Services Award recognizes a dynamic legal-services lawyer who represents low-income clients, works to improve access to justice, or thinks creatively to solve difficult legal problems. Our Government Pro Bono Award commends a dedicated government lawyer who also volunteers time to organize pro bono efforts or represent low-income clients. Nomination materials for the Legal Services Award and the Government Pro Bono Award are due by 5 pm on Thursday, October 1, 2020. Nominations should be sent via email to Nancy Lopez at ​nlopez@wclawyers.org​. The awards criteria and nomination instructions are below: Legal Services Award Our Legal Services Award recognizes the work of lawyers who serve in the public interest community: the staff attorneys who provide outstanding representation to low-income individuals day in and day out. These may be rising stars or unsung heroes – but they demonstrate a passion for helping people and a hunger for increasing the access to justice. We’re looking for nominees with one or more of the following characteristics: An advocate who has not previously been widely, publicly recognized for her or his work and whose work benefits low-income or otherwise marginalized clients in the Greater DC Metro Region; An individual who supports the DC public interest community in improving the access to justice for those who cannot afford an attorney; An advocate who has endeavored to bring together the public interest, pro bono, and government legal communities to improve the quality and availability of free legal services for those in need; and Someone who has gone above and beyond the normal requirements of their job to assist persons in need or has demonstrated outside-the-box thinking about how to resolve difficult legal issues. Past Winners: 2019 Tricia Monroe, The Legal Aid Society for the District of Columbia 2018  Lindsy Miles-Hare, Ayuda 2017  Tracy Goodman, Children’s Law Center 2016: Thomas “Skip” Mark, D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center 2015: Rebecca Lindhurst, Bread for the City 2014: Jodi Feldman, The Legal Aid Society for the District of Columbia Government Pro Bono Award The Government Pro Bono Award highlights the important (and often overlooked) pro bono contributions made by government lawyers. Pro bono service can take many forms and is not limited to direct legal representation or litigation.  Past recipients have promoted access to justice in a variety of ways and in many different substantive practice areas. The Government Pro Bono Award recipient will be a government attorney who has made significant pro bono contributions. The pro bono work performed may include, but is not limited to activities such as: Involvement in establishing or implementing an agency pro bono program; Increasing the level of pro bono service by agency attorneys through promotion or facilitation of pro bono opportunities; Mentoring or training agency lawyers handling pro bono matters, litigating cases or providing non-litigation legal services to low income people or entities; or Participating regularly in pro bono clinics. Please note that the above lists of pro bono activities are not exhaustive. We gladly will consider nominations of attorneys who have performed other kinds of pro bono service. Past Winners: 2019   Marissa Schnaith, U.S. Department of Labor 2018   Catalina Martinez, U.S. Small Business Administration 2017   Deborah Birnbaum, U.S. Department of Labor 2016  Katrina Rouse, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice 2015   Kathryn Legomsky, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development 2014   John Bowers, Civil Division, U.S. Department of Justice 2013   Jay Owen, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice 2012   Edward Eliasberg, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice 2011   Karen Shrimp, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission 2010   John Warshawsky, Civil Division, U.S. Department of Justice 2009   Sean Keveney, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice 2008   Paul Kendall, Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Department of Justice 2007   James Yoon, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice 2006   Mark Pletcher, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice 2005   Julie Abbate, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice 2004   Laura Klein, Pro Bono Program, U.S. Department of Justice 2003   Claire McGuire, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation & Department of Treasury Nomination Instructions  Nominations should describe the nominee’s relevant professional activities, including: (1) a description of the legal services and/or other efforts upon which the nomination is based, (2) an explanation of the impact of that work on clients, other advocates, and/or others and (3) the time period covered by the activities. Nomination materials should be no longer than 6 pages in length, including the nomination, resume, and any other supporting documents, such as letters of recommendation. Please submit nomination materials via email to Nancy Lopez at ​nlopez@wclawyers.org​. Deadline  ​ All nominations must be received by 5:00 pm on Thursday, October 1. Learn more about the Awards Ceremony and past award winners.

The Zoom University School Of Law

The Zoom University School of Law

When I first learned of the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, the last thing I anticipated was how significantly the coronavirus would impact society, my legal education, and my personal life. Shortly after spring break, I received an email from Dean Renee Hutchins informing me that my law courses would be conducted remotely for the remainder of my spring semester at the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law. Although I was concerned, I knew I could rely upon “the process.”
2020 Summer Forum Criminal Law & Death Penalty Panel

2020 Summer Forum Criminal Law & Death Penalty Panel

by Nefertari Elshiekh On July 23rd, we wrapped up this year's Summer Forum, with the sixth panel focusing on Criminal Law & Death Penalty. The panelists included: Brandi Harden, Harden & Pinckney, PLLC Callie Heller, ABA Death Penalty Representation Project Daniel Levin, White & Case Bridgette Stumpf, Network for Victim Recovery of DC Liz Wieser, D.C. Office of the Attorney General’s Public Safety Division D.C. Office of the Attorney General's Public Advocacy Division's Stephon Woods facilitated our conversation. Bridgette began by talking about the wide array of services with which her organization provides victims. In DC, which sits at a unique nexus of federal and local law, survivors face additional barriers with regard to accountability and transparency because of the lack of elected prosecutors that many local jurisdictions have. Brandi then went on to describe how growing up in Texas as the only black child in her elementary school impacted her view of the law. Her firsthand experiences with an unfair justice system and her Texan perspective shaped her decision to become a lawyer as she felt she had a responsibility to ensure poor people had exceptional representation even if they couldn't afford a lawyer. Brandi highlighted one staggering statistic: Harris County, in Texas, has more death sentences than anywhere else in the country, and this resonated with Callie, who practiced in Harris County. Callie pointed out the lack of resources provided to attorneys involved with death penalty cases. She helps connect pro bono counsel, who are crucial in filling those gaps, with where the need is greatest. Callie also alluded to the interplay of racial injustice in the work she does through a policy example in North Carolina, where the Racial Justice Act allowed death row inmates to see a commutation of their sentence to life in prison if race was a factor in imposing the death penalty. However, the Act was later repealed, which caused contention over what happens to the six inmates that had applied for or were granted relief while the law was in effect. In June, the North Carolina Supreme Court held that applying the repeal retroactively violated the constitutional prohibition on ex post facto laws. This is a prime example of the importance that policy work plays alongside individual representation in addressing systemic racism in the criminal justice system. In continuing this discussion of racial injustice, the panelists addressed alternative methods to prosecution and the role the Black Lives Matter movement plays in each of their respective organizations. Liz elaborated on the D.C. Office of  the Attorney General's restorative justice program, which addresses accountability for some crimes by focusing on the harm done to victims. This approach aims to empower victims while still holding offenders accountable. Bridgette echoed the impact of such a program by noting that when asked, many victims did not want to necessarily engage in a punitive process, but rather wanted to have a conversation that allowed them to elucidate the harm that was done to them. Brandi expressed her hope that the Black Lives Matter movement is exposing the need to redirect resources to better serve and protect the community. From his own experience in working on cases that address gang violence, Daniel described how the people involved in gang violence often had long criminal histories that started with minor crimes committed when they were juveniles. Without another alternative, they were "thrown into the criminal justice system, and it was a spiral that led to more and more criminal behavior." He stressed that as a society we have not done enough to find alternatives to help individuals and give them opportunities to get out of that spiral, but it can be beneficial to everyone to shift resources to these areas. He ended with encouraging the audience to "have discussions, invite people in, and listen to them." Catch up on the conversation and discover pro bono opportunities on social media using #SumFo2020. Nefertari Elshiekh is the 2020 Washington Council of Lawyers Summer Intern.

2020 Summer Forum Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Panel

2020 Summer Forum Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Panel

This week we hosted the much-anticipated Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Panel on July 21st. As our panel noted, this is a moment of great promise and great peril. We have an opportunity to spur real change, but we must seize the moment. Our experts delivered on concrete ways to do just that.
Virtual Internship Tips

Virtual Internship Tips

Internships are an irreplaceable opportunity to get real world experience in an area that interests you. This year internships look very different as the pandemic forced the emergence of remote internships. But, do not worry; you can still have a rewarding and memorable summer experience. Keep reading for 8 tips on what you can do to make the most out your virtual internship.
2020 Summer Forum Poverty Law Pro Bono Panel

2020 Summer Forum Poverty Law Pro Bono Panel

This week, we took a deeper dive into practice areas where individual representation is often the stepping stone to systemic change. The discussion began with an explanation of the specific work each panelist does and how that has changed in light of the pandemic. We discussed pressing issues that D.C. and the rest of the nation are facing: the pandemic and the anticipated avalanche of cases once moratoriums end, and the racial inequalities that have always existed, but have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Some of the panelists also touched on how to find opportunities for pro bono services within the District and nationally.
2020 Summer Forum Keynote With Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby

2020 Summer Forum Keynote with Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby

July 7th kicked off our annual Summer Forum event with a keynote address from the Honorable Anna Blackburne-Rigsby, Chief Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the highest appellate court for the District. In conversation with Jim Sandman, President Emeritus of the Legal Services Corporation and a distinguished lecturer and senior consultant to the Future of the Profession Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, the Honorable Blackburne-Rigsby began by talking about how her early experiences of being born in Washington D.C. during the height of the Civil Rights Movement ignited her interest in the law. Many of her heroes included judges and civil rights icons, who shaped her perspective of the power of law to ensure equality, and she knew this was something of which she wanted to be a part.