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Graphic: DC Pro Bono Week 2021

DC Pro Bono Week 2021: Eventful & Inspiring

That's a wrap on DC Pro Bono Week 2021! But the increased legal need for pro bono lawyers continues beyond Pro Bono Week. As we move into the next phase of the pandemic recovery, the unprecedented legal needs crisis will only increase. Now is the time to volunteer your time to help a neighbor in need. As lawyers, we have a duty and obligation to help bridge the access to justice gap. Whether it’s by taking on a pro bono case, volunteering for an advice and referral clinic, contributing to systemic advocacy, or financially supporting a legal services organization, we can all do something for the public good.
Photo: Coding Justice Panel Collage

DC Pro Bono Week 2021: Coding Justice

In recent decades, our society has seen a boom in technology advancement, seemingly with one goal in mind: to improve efficiency in every aspect of our lives, from things such as connecting with friends and family or shopping to political engagement around causes we care most about. But should efficiency be the primary goal of technology advancement? Can we trust that tech companies have the best intentions with the data they collect about us? What happens when that data is misused or abused? These are some of the questions raised in the Coding Justice panel held on October 25, 2021, during DC Pro Bono Week 2021. 
Photo Pro Bono Goes To School Panel Collage

DC Pro Bono Week 2021: Closing the Gaps in Public Education

Brown v. Board of Education, decided by the Supreme Court in 1954, unanimously established that segregation in education is inherently unequal and thus unconstitutional. “Separate but equal” had no place in our society, especially in the classroom. “Education is the foundation of good citizenship.” That ruling was over half a century ago. Yet today, according to Kent Withycombe, Director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee Public Education Project, public schools in the District of Columbia and the surrounding region are more segregated, separate, and unequal now than they were in the 1950s. Brown v. Board of Education may have established equal access to education as a constitutional right, but it did not close the gaps in public education. Getting legal professionals involved in the school communities, to help close the gaps in D.C. public schools, was the focus of the panel discussion, Pro Bono Goes to School: Closing the Gaps in Public Education, held on October 29, during D.C. Pro Bono Week 2021.
Photo: Amazon Pro Bono Team Group Photo

DC Pro Bono Week 2021 Profile: Amazon & DC Pro Bono Center Collaboration – Partnership Aids D.C. Entrepreneurs, Nonprofits

Long before Northern Virginia was announced as home to Amazon's HQ2, many Amazon employees called a Ballston office building "work" and the D.C. metro area "home." In 2019, Aisha Gantt, Senior Corporate Counsel at Amazon Web Services (AWS), reached out to the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center to discuss how Amazon's legal team could use their skills to support the District’s nonprofits and small businesses. After reviewing the Center’s Nonprofit & Small Business Legal Assistance Program needs and the skills of Gantt and her team, the organizations partnered to launch a brand-new service: the Startup Legal Clinic for Nonprofits & Small Businesses.
Photo: David Fischer Elana Fowlkes

DC Pro Bono Week 2021 Profiles: New Tax Credits Project – A Bridge to Economic Security

On March 11, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into law. Under ARPA, for 2021 the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and the Earned-Income Tax Credit (EITC) were significantly expanded and made refundable, greatly increasing the benefits available for low-income families and individuals, expanding the pool of individuals eligible for these benefits, and permitting cash payments regardless of taxable income. Recognizing the need to inform parents, other caregivers, and low-income families in the D.C. community of these expanded benefits, and to apprise them of the steps to obtain them, Melody Webb, Executive Director of Mother’s Outreach Network, teamed with Susie Hoffman, Public Service Partner at Crowell & Moring LLP, to identify support for a workshop for parents, ultimately named the “Parents’ Tax Workshop: The EITC and CTC.”
Photo: Harvey, Kollm, Manning, Schulman Headshot Photo Collage

DC Pro Bono Week 2021 Profile: Joint Pro Bono Team – Bolstering Due Process for All People in Immigration Proceedings

Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition is fortunate to work with many outstanding attorneys in protecting immigrants’ rights. Recently, a group of talented pro bono attorneys at two of our long-term partner firms collaborated in cutting-edge litigation in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Top-notch appellate advocacy by Susan Baker Manning, Patrick Harvey, and Clara Kollm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, and by Steven H. Schulman of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP led to a landmark decision earlier this year that bolsters due process for all people in immigration proceedings, and especially for those who must proceed without the benefit of counsel.
Graphic: Harvey And Howard Headshots

DC Pro Bono Week 2021 Profiles: Stephenson F. Harvey and Keith L. Howard – A Dynamic Duo Fighting for DC Kids

Across DC, more than 13,000 students have special education needs. But getting the right education to meet those needs is a far reach for many. More often than not, students and their families call on lawyers to ensure they get the right evaluation, plans and services to put their child on track. And the urgency to ensure children’s special education needs are met has skyrocketed over the past 18 months as many students are waiting for delayed evaluations or haven’t received the services they deserve due to virtual learning barriers. Attorneys Steve Harvey and Keith Howard have known each other since 2004. They shared the same passion from the start of their legal careers – pursuing justice for low-income families by representing children in special education cases. Since 2017, they have partnered together to represent students with special education needs in over a dozen pro bono cases for Children’s Law Center.
Photo: Nadira Clarke And Dog

DC Pro Bono Week 2021 Profile: Nadira Clarke – Making Virtual Custody Representation Better for Clients

Nadira Clarke, Baker Botts partner, and Washington, D.C. Section Chair of the firm’s Environmental Safety & Incident Response Group, has leaned into leadership roles, mentorship opportunities, pro bono work, and more since joining Legal Aid’s Board of Trustees in 2018.  Indeed, when it came to encouraging pro bono engagement with Legal Aid, Nadira resolved to model the behavior she wanted to see in her colleagues.  Having previously handled sex-based discrimination litigation and immigration matters, Nadira is no stranger to pro bono work.  Yet, she was willing to dive into a new area of law and has been accepting child custody case referrals from Legal Aid in recent years. Nadira is making an indelible impact on Legal Aid as an organization, the professional development of the colleagues she supervises and mentors, and, most importantly, the lives of the clients she represents.
Photo: Blair Decker Headshot

DC Pro Bono Week Profiles 2021: Blair Decker – Advancing Crime Victims’ Rights

Without pro bono support, only crime victims with the financial resources to hire skilled attorneys would benefit from the formidable array of victims’ rights laws and benefits applicable in the District of Columbia. The natural inertia of the criminal legal system and the highly adversarial interests of those involved creates an environment where victims’ rights are susceptible to encroachment. Since the incredible majority of crime victims cannot afford their own attorneys, crime victims are often left without even knowing they had rights that could have been enforced. Blair Decker has stepped into this gap to accept a wide range of pro bono opportunities at NVRDC and has positively affected our work with crime victims and surviving family members of homicide victims, and has facilitated a broader systemic transformation in a variety of ways.
Photo: Phillip Dehoux Headshot

DC Pro Bono Week 2021 Profiles: Phillip Dehoux – Helping Clients With Few Legal Resources Find Solutions

Understanding all too well the struggles of people with few resources and language barriers, Phillip Dehoux jumped at the chance to help out in any way he could with Christian Legal Aid of the District of Columbia. “I’ve worked on a few estate planning and probate cases, helped out on an SSDI case, and worked on guardianship matters. It’s been very rewarding work in that I not only feel fulfilled, but I also get to help people who had nowhere else to turn because they couldn’t afford a private attorney.”
Photo: Ehran Bedestani Headshot

DC Pro Bono Week 2021 Profiles: Erhan Bedestani – Law Student Leading By Example

Erhan Bedestani, a law student at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, loves pro bono work because he is motivated to help others and he also learns by doing.  Pro bono provides an opportunity to take the academic material learned in law school and apply it to real legal issues members of our local community are dealing with. Erhan feels strongly about pro bono work and said  “I love that I can help others and at the same time further reinforce my legal education. “
Photo Lauren Taylor Headshot

DC Pro Bono Week 2021 Profiles: Lauren Taylor – Hope and Opportunity Through Expungement

The Rising for Justice Expungement Program is proud to work with many pro bono attorneys who make it possible to expunge hundreds of D.C. records every year. Our Pro Bono Partners, as we refer to them, each become an important figure in our clients’ lives. Pro Bono Partners support and represent clients throughout the expungement process. Lauren Taylor stands out in her commitment and positivity to this work.
Photo: Nicholas Nyemah, Dominique Casimir, And Daniel Dovev Group Picture

Pro Bono Week 2018 Profile: Nicholas Nyemah, Dominique Casimir, and Daniel Dovev – Asylum Protection

Nicholas Nyemah, Dominique Casimir, and Daniel Dovev from Arnold & Porter LLP, recently won an asylum claim for an LGBT man from Swaziland who faced death in his home country. Working with their mentors from CAIR Coalition, the team’s case was one of the first before a new immigration judge. There were a number of unusual challenges in the case and the team identified and tackled each one with sharp precision and elegance.  Their arguments were so compelling that DHS stipulated to 90% of the elements.  The hearing lasted less than 30 minutes and the client is now reunited with his community here in the United States.
Photo: Tracey Ohm Headshot

Pro Bono Week 2018: Tracey Ohm – Pro Bono Attitude of Gratitude

For Tracey Ohm, of counsel at Stinson Leonard Street LLP and dedicated D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center volunteer, the reward of pro bono work isn't out-of-the-park wins. It's the gratitude she gets for the simple act of being an advocate. "The clients are so grateful to have someone standing up for them," she said. "That's both what I enjoy and what keeps me going."
DC Pro Bono Week 2018 Profile: Amanda McGinn Standing & Megan Greer Sitting

Pro Bono Week 2018 Profile: Amanda McGinn & Megan Greer – Representing A Devoted Grandmother

Amanda McGinn, an associate at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, had just presented her Children's Law Center pro bono caregiver custody case before a DC judge, alongside co-counsel, Megan Greer, a counsel at Akin Gump. While daunting, Amanda knew that together, and through the resources Children's Law Center provides its pro bono teams, she and Megan could use their legal skills to help children thrive.
DC Pro Bono Week Profile: Nick Barber

Pro Bono Week 2018 Profile: Nick Barber – Moving Clients Toward Family Stability

If you are looking for a pro bono opportunity to help a family achieve stability and hone your litigation skills, consider representing a parent in a child custody case.  Just ask Kirkland & Ellis associate Nickolas Barber who, over the course of a year representing the father of two young sons referred from the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, appeared in court seven times, including for two evidentiary hearings and a full-day trial.
Brendan McNamara Photo

Pro Bono Week 2018: Brendan McNamara – Miracle Attorney for the Elderly

Brendan McNamara, a staff attorney at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, has made a consistent effort over the last three years to represent elderly clients referred to the firm through Legal Counsel for the Elderly's (LCE) Pro Bono Project. Brendan's experience illustrates why pro bono attorneys are so important to the lives of low-income and modest means individuals.
DC Pro Bono Week 2018 Event Graphic

DC Pro Bono Week 2018: Exploring New Horizons

DC Pro Bono Week is coming soon!  DC Pro Bono Week 2018 will take place from October 21–27.  Why not come explore our annual celebration of pro bono service?  There is something for everyone….. clinics, volunteering opportunities, a panel, a court tour, and a hackathon!
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