On Tuesday, November 14, 2023, panelists discussed the ongoing consequences of the "School to Prison Pipeline." We broke down the narrative, highlighted the ongoing and significant effects on students of color, particularly those with disabilities, and laid out action steps for students, educators, and legal professionals to promote systemic change and end disparate discipline practices.
Patrick McGlone exemplifies the values of excellence, commitment to justice, and dedicated community service. He is a worker, a joiner, and a true trailblazer in the legal world. For his leadership and inspiration to the legal profession and the DC community, we are proud to recognize Pat with the 2023 Justice Impact Awards Corporate Counsel Award.
Ted Howard is the quietest legend you will ever meet. To speak with him, you would not know of the thousands of hours he’s personally dedicated to pro bono service or the hundreds of lawyers he’s mentored and supported as Wily Rein’s Pro Bono Partner. What you will hear and feel is his passion for closing the access to justice gap and his commitment to serving his neighbors. He is a leader in our community, and we are proud to loudly announce Ted as the distinguished recipient of our 2023 Justice Impact Award for Law Firm Lawyers.
Chris Jennison, a lawyer at the U.S. Department of Transportation, goes above and beyond in his commitment to pro bono service and his dedication to encouraging others to make pro bono service part of their career. For his strong and steady commitment to doing pro bono work and the many ways he has encouraged other government lawyers to do pro bono work, Chris is the recipient of the 2023 Justice Impact Award for Government Lawyers.
Wes Heppler is an inspiring, one-of-a-kind champion. He advocates strenuously for his clients, is a true colleague and friend to his co-workers, and is a dedicated advocate for just systems to help the homeless. It is with immense pride and admiration that we announce him as the recipient of the 2023 Justice Impact Award for Legal Services Lawyers.
In the world of public service, some people shine brightly. They stand out for their exceptional talents and unwavering commitment to making a positive impact on their community. Nancy Drane is one such individual. Although few beneficiaries of her work know her name, countless DC residents have benefited from her zealous advocacy and commitment to ensuring equal access to justice for all. We are thrilled to recognize Nancy Drane as our 2023 Presidents Award recipient for her outstanding contributions to the DC legal services community.
Since 2015, Legal Aid’s Reentry Justice Project has been helping clients who face barriers in accessing housing, employment, and other opportunities due to a criminal record. Individuals who have interacted with police and the criminal legal system — disproportionately people of color and people who live in areas of concentrated poverty — find themselves facing a multitude of collateral civil consequences that act in real and concrete ways to perpetuate generational cycles of poverty. The Project seeks to eliminate those barriers through direct representation and systemic advocacy.
DC Affordable Law Firm – DCALF, as we are more commonly known – delivers accessible justice to modest-income DC residents who do not qualify for traditional sources of free civil legal services and cannot afford standard representation, empowering community members with unmet legal needs while also launching the careers of public interest lawyers committed to accessible justice.
Shirin Zamani has been a staff attorney with Hogan Lovells for more than 8 years and was promoted to Staff Attorney Manager in 2022. She has been a longtime advocate of non-partner track attorneys receiving billable credit for pro bono work. As one of the firm’s Pro Bono Champions, she shares weekly opportunities with her colleagues to get them plugged into pro bono matters that interest them, from disability rights to domestic violence and everything in between.
The National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) is thrilled to celebrate the achievement of the DC-based, Latham & Watkins pro bono team comprised of associate Michael Clemente and partners Adam Greenfield and Eugene Elrod. The Latham team secured a systemic victory for veterans in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on behalf of Vietnam War combat veteran Robert Doyon. The Federal Circuit adopted a broad rule that will significantly help veterans seeking medical retirements related to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Federal Circuit held that every Board for Correction of Military Records decision must apply liberal consideration to applications, like Mr. Doyon’s, that seek a medical retirement for PTSD.
An associate at ArentFox Schiff LLP, Megan Daily’s practice concentrates on mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, entity formation and structuring, commercial contract drafting, and general corporate law. Her everyday clients tend to be large, sophisticated entities with the ability to afford expert legal counsel. The transactional experience advising these sizeable clients allows her to provide valuable pro bono support to DC’s newest, smallest nonprofits and small businesses who otherwise could not afford to pay hundreds of dollars an hour for legal help.
“My law school clinical and internship experiences taught me that simply having a lawyer advocating for their interests can make a life-changing difference in outcomes for clients,” Alfredo Vasquez says. Find out more about how his work with DC Refers is his way of working to improve the legal system and the lives of our moderate-income neighbors.
What began as an emergency response to the immediate needs of busloads of migrants being dropped at Union Station last summer has grown into a coordinated response by Georgetown Law’s Immigration Law Student Association (ILSA), volunteer attorneys from private firms and non-profit organizations, as well as other Georgetown law, graduate, undergraduate students, and alumni.
The Landlord and Tenant Branch of D.C. Superior Court adjudicates complaints for the possession of real property, commonly referred to as eviction cases. A landlord may file a complaint for possession against a tenant. Approximately 95% of the tenants sued for eviction in the Landlord and Tenant Branch are not represented by counsel. Only about 5% of landlords are unrepresented.
Nonprofits serve a critical role in our communities. They provide programming that lifts up underserved and vulnerable populations and empower individuals to take action to help their communities. In doing so, nonprofits regularly navigate tricky legal issues, and pro bono assistance can be essential. Patrick Fuller, Counsel at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, understands the challenges that nonprofits face. Over the course of his career, Patrick has dedicated his pro bono practice to strengthening the capacity and compliance of nonprofits primarily working in DC, advising on a range of structuring transactions and corporate governance matters.
Over 85% of parties in child custody, divorce, and child support cases in D.C. Superior Court lack representation. The Family Court Self-Help Center, on site at the Moultrie Courthouse, is a free resource for unrepresented litigants who must navigate a complex legal system designed for lawyers. The Self-Help Center provides customers with information about family law, helps prepare pleadings, instructs litigants how to file and serve documents, clarifies court processes, and offers referrals to community resources.
The Superior Court’s Domestic Violence Division adjudicates civil and criminal domestic violence matters, including Civil Protection Order (CPO) cases. A person can file a petition for a CPO against someone who has committed or threatened to commit an “intrafamily offense,” sexual assault, sexual abuse, or sex or labor trafficking against them.
The Domestic Relations Branch (DRB) is part of the Superior Court’s Family Court and hears custody, divorce, legal separation, annulment, and adoption cases, as well as child support requested in a custody or divorce case. Child custody cases make up the majority of DRB cases for which legal services organizations are seeking pro bono counsel.
The Superior Court maintains a “debt collection calendar” within the Civil Division that consists of two case types: (1) collection cases involving consumer debts like credit card debt, loans, condominium and homeowner’s association fees, and medical debt; and (2) insurance subrogation cases in which an auto insurer (such as GEICO) seeks to recover from the uninsured owner or driver after an automobile accident with an insured vehicle.
We are now accepting nominations for our newly named Justice Impact Awards. We will recognize government and legal services lawyers go above and beyond for our community and law firm and corporate legal department lawyers who demonstrate exceptional commitment to pro bono service. Read on for nomination criteria and deadlines.
While the summer isn't quite over, we do have to say goodbye to our 2023 Summer Intern Ethan Cornell. Although Ethan only joined us for the month of July, he made positive contributions to our team and brought a unique perspective to our work. We are thankful for the ways Ethan helped move our mission forward this summer. Thank you, Ethan!
On July 13, current fellows and fellowship program administrators provided insight into the fellowships process at Fellowships 101. The conversation touched on why folks choose to pursue fellowships, the application process for different programs, important considerations when looking for programs and host organizations, and helpful tips and tricks for applying! We concluded the conversation with a presentation from NALP on the PSJD.
On Tuesday, July 11th, we welcomed lawyers, interns, and law students to our 35th annual “Supreme Court: View from the Press Gallery” event. This event peels back the curtain on the recently concluded Supreme Court term through the eyes of the journalists who have covered the Court for decades. We were excited to welcome everyone back in person for the first time since 2019!