During DC Pro Bono Week 2019 we profiled lawyers who made a profound difference in the lives of their pro bono clients despite heavy demands on their time. We hope they have inspired you to take on your own pro bono case.
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.
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."
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.
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, 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.
By Aoife Delargy This spring, law students from American University, Catholic University, Georgetown, and George Washington University sponsored the DC Alternative Spring Break Pro Bono Service Project. Held for two weeks last March, students from these local law schools spent their spring breaks engaged in hands-on, legal volunteer work. (more…)
By Maureen Thomas Major General Mike Nardotti (US Army, Retired and former The Judge Advocate General, US Army) is a Senior Partner at Squire Patton Boggs. The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program recently recognized Mike for over 20 years of service to veterans and their families, caregivers and survivors, as a member of TVC’s National Volunteer Corps. Over the past 25 years, lawyers like Mike from Squire Patton Boggs have supported The Veterans Consortium with over 92 engagements in federal courts, participated in specialized Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims trainings, and assisted TVC in dramatically improving our ability to provide free legal services to veterans and their loved ones. (more…)
Kaley, age 13, was living with her grandmother in El Salvador when local gangs began to target her and her family. Her grandmother owns a local diner where neighborhood police officers and prosecutors often ate; as a result, gang members decided that she was pro-government and anti-gang. Gang members assaulted Kaley’s grandmother and targeted Kaley, threatening to kidnap and assault her. Kaley fled the country. (more…)
By Children's Law Center Sleigh bells ring, judge is listening—is not your typical holiday medley. But it provided the soundtrack last December for five-year-old Charlie Young while Alexis DeBernardis, his pro bono counsel, fought for him in his custody case. (Names have been changed to protect client anonymity.) Alexis is an associate at Crowell & Moring, but she also volunteers as a pro bono lawyer with Children’s Law Center (CLC). (more…)
By Priya Konings Representing unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children is challenging, and Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) is always looking for pro bono lawyers with the time, patience, and enthusiasm to handle a pro bono immigration case for our clients. When Lara Burke of Bruch Hanna came to us, we knew that we'd found someone who could rise to the occasion. (more…)
By Melanie Orhant Ryan Guilds is a lawyer at Arnold & Porter Kay Scholer and board chair of Network for Victim Recovery of DC (NVRDC). Over the past eighteen years, he's found that pro bono work offers the chance to do "that not only feels good but also gives you skills as a lawyer." And Ryan has done pro bono work in spades. Ryan's pro bono work started before he was actually a lawyer. While a 1L at the University of North Carolina School of Law, he worked on capital cases and developed an interest in prisoner's rights. (more…)
By Jodi Feldman and Neesa Sethi Earlier this year, David Young, an antitrust associate at Ropes & Gray, received the Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence from the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. Over the past six years, David has been one of Legal Aid’s most active pro bono volunteers: He's regularly taken on Social Security Disability Insurance/Supplement Security Income (SSDI/SSI) cases and other public benefits matters referred from Legal Aid and other legal-services organizations. (more…)
By Vanessa Batters-Thompson Katie Towt and Ahuva Battams do not hide from challenges. In April, they made an extraordinary commitment to representing a pro bono client, Ms. E, in her custody case—with only one month to prepare for a trial scheduled to take place over three days. Ms. E had tried for several months to find counsel, and she struggled to understand court procedures and rules while her children’s father—who sought sole custody of the parties' young children—was represented by an experienced (and well-paid) lawyer. The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center’s Advocacy & Justice Clinic recognized that Ms. E was at a tremendous disadvantage and tried to find a lawyer for Ms. E, despite the tight timeline. Fortunately, Katie and Ahuva understood Ms. E’s predicament and got to work right away. “For me, it is the duty of every attorney to help represent people in need," said Ahuva. "I am never too busy to help. I go home to a safe environment with a family who loves me, and I want to give others that safe environment, too.” (more…)
By Megan Jeffery We all, at times, get disenchanted by the daily grind. Sometimes it's nice to break up the monotony by exploring something new—perhaps sparing an hour or two to investigate something new could inspire you or someone else. With DC Pro Bono Week 2017, Washington Council of Lawyers is offering an opportunity to explore other aspects of the law, in a way that is concise and manageable. Events include: trainings, a happy hour, tours of pro bono sites, a cocktail hour, legal clinics, a luncheon, and a panel. Subject areas include: landlord-tenant, domestic violence, probate, small business, family law, veterans law, children’s law, expungements, and immigration. There is something for everyone. (more…)
By Erin Mee Serving on nonprofit boards can help expand access to justice and give back to the community, while at the same time providing board members an opportunity to expand their networks and build meaningful skills. So explained the speakers at Washington Council of Lawyers's DC Pro Bono Week panel discussing service on nonprofit boards. (more…)
A dozen lawyers and law students gathered at Judiciary Square on Tuesday morning, October 25 for The Housing Crisis from the Inside: A Guided Tour of D.C. Superior Court’s Landlord and Tenant Branch. This Pro Bono Week event was co-sponsored by Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and Neighborhood Legal Services Program; the tour, led by Legal Aid's Beth Mellen Harrison, sought to educate participants about the lack of safe, affordable housing in the District and the experience of low-income tenants forced to defend themselves in eviction cases in a fast-paced, high-volume court. (more…)