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. The full list is below: September 26 DC Bar Pro Bono Center - Public Benefits Training Series: TANF Session - Cash Assistance for Families in Need Wednesday, September 26 12:00 – 2:30 pm DC Bar Conference Center (901 4th Street NW) Register October 2 Children’s Law Center: Custody Guardian ad Litem Training Tuesday, October 2; 9:30 am—4:00 pm Location Coming Soon! Register October 3 DC Bar Pro Bono Center: Public Benefits Training Series: Eligibility for Public Health Insurance in DC Wednesday, October 3 12:00—3:00 pm DC Bar (901 4th Street NW) Register October 9 DC Volunteer Lawyers Project: Representing At-Risk Children as a Guardian Ad Litem Tuesday, October 9 9:30 am–3:00 pm King & Spalding (1700 Pennsylvania Ave NW Suite 200) To attend a training, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. October 10 Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless: New Volunteer Training Wednesday, October 10 10:30 am–3:00 pm (lunch will be provided) Winston & Strawn LLP (1700 K Street NW) Please email email@example.com to register for this training. October 11 DC Volunteer Lawyers Project: Keeping Victims Safe: Litigating Family Law Cases Thursday, October 11 9:30 am–3:00 pm Feldesman + Tucker + Leifer + Fidell (1129 20th St NW #400) To attend a training, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. October 16 DC Volunteer Lawyers Project: Fighting for Victims: Litigating Protection Order Cases Tuesday, October 16 9:30 am–3:00 pm Gibson Dunn (1050 Connecticut Ave NW) To attend a training, please RSVP to email@example.com. DC Bar Pro Bono Center: Child Custody Training, 2-Part Series: Part 1 Tuesday, October 16 5:45—8:45 pm DC Bar (901 4th Street NW) Register October 17 Neighborhood Legal Services Program: Litigating Housing and Employment Discrimination Cases at the Office of Human Rights October 17 Noon–2:00 pm Location TBD Contact Pro Bono Counsel, Melody Webb at MWebb@nlsp.org to register. October 18 DC Bar Pro Bono Center: Child Custody Training, 2-Part Series: Part 2 Thursday, October 18 5:45—8:45 pm DC Bar (901 4th Street NW) Register October 19 DC Bar Pro Bono Center: DC Family Court Volunteer Attorney Negotiator Program Friday, October 19 11:00 am—3:00 pm DC Bar (901 4th Street NW) Register October 30 Children’s Law Center: Caregiver Custody Training Tuesday, October 30 9:30 am—1:00 pm Winston & Strawn LLP (1700 K Street NW) Register November 7 DC Bar Pro Bono Center: Public Benefits Training Series: Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI/SSI & IDA) Wednesday, November 7 12:00—2:30 pm DC Bar (901 4th Street NW) Register November 8 DC Bar Pro Bono Center: Landlord Tenant Practice in the District of Columbia, 2-Part Series: Part 1 Thursday, November 8 5:45—8:45 pm DC Bar (901 4th Street NW) Register November 13 Children’s Law Center: Housing Conditions Training Tuesday, November 13 9:30 am—12:00 pm Location Coming Soon! Register November 14 DC Bar Pro Bono Center: Landlord Tenant Practice in the District of Columbia, 2-Part Series: Part 2 Wednesday, November 14 5:45—8:45 pm DC Bar (901 4th Street NW) Register
By Christelle Tshibengabo Reading Partners connects students in under-resourced schools with volunteer tutors and mentors across the United States. In Washington, D.C., Reading Partners has reading centers in 19 elementary schools, 10 of which are East of the Anacostia River. A significant percentage of the volunteers and tutors in the District's Reading Partners programs are attorneys and other legal professionals. Attorneys from Hogan Lovells LLP, for example, have volunteered for Reading Partners for several years, and Hogan Lovells partner Stuart Stein is on the board of directors. Hogan Lovells has a number of programs that service communities east of the Anacostia River, including a partnership with Kimball Elementary School. Stein became involved with Reading Partners after attending a citizenship program held by Hogan Lovells at Kimball four years ago and has remained committed to volunteering since. Speaking with WCL intern, Christelle Tshibengabo, Stein explained that when he started volunteering at Kimball, he ran the corporate practice at Hogan Lovells. While his professional life kept him busy, he still made time to spend an hour every week with the students at Reading Partners. Currently, he works regularly with at least four students. When asked how volunteering with Reading Partners has impacted his life, he explained that it is an "unequal partnership" because you get more from the students than you give to them. To learn more about Reading Partners, Tshibengabo also interviewed Reading Partners Community Engagement Director, Naomi Shachter, at Maude Aiton Elementary School in Lincoln Heights. When Tshibengabo arrived, three students from kindergarten through third grade were already in the reading center starting their day. Participating students are usually pulled from classes during independent reading times based on their reading ability and needs. When they arrive at the reading center, they meet with their tutors and begin a lesson, which consists of reading a book of the student’s choice aloud, targeting difficult vowels and consonants, and assessing content comprehension. Lawyers can have an outsized impact on the students they tutor. As an example, Naomi shared the story of Ana, a DC law student and Reading Partners volunteer, and her student Israel, who worked together at Aiton’s reading center. At the beginning of their first year working together, Ana had said she wanted to become a lawyer, while Israel said he wanted to make pizza. But by the end of their second year together, both Ana and Israel wanted to become lawyers. After their time at the reading center, the students are encouraged to take books home both as homework and for recreational reading. Because books for the program are donated to Reading Partners, donors are also important to the long-term impact on the students. Reading Partners is always seeking new volunteers for its programs. To volunteer for Reading Partners, register online here. After registering online, attend an orientation, complete a background check, and then schedule a session time. The students’ lessons run for 45 minutes, so volunteering involves hour-long shifts during school hours. If finding time during the school day is a challenge, you can also donate books to Reading Partners for the students to take home. Christelle Tshibengabo interned with Washington Council of Lawyers in 2018.
DC Volunteer Lawyers Project (DCVLP) has opened a satellite office in The Commons at Stanton Square to serve victims of domestic violence and at-risk children and their families. The new location will be a collaborative effort with Martha’s Table and Community of Hope to serve clients in Ward 8. DCVLP Co-founder and Executive Director, Karen Barker Marcou, said that she is excited the new location will provide more legal and social services to families and children in Ward 8. “At least 30 percent of our clients reside in Ward 8. We were excited about Stanton Common’s focus on families and children, because our legal practice focuses on families and children.” The new location will provide space for attorneys to meet with clients and will provide support services in areas such as housing assistance, counseling, parenting classes and emergency assistance with food and clothing needs. DCVLP recently celebrated its tenth anniversary in May. The organization was started in 2008 to provide pro bono legal services to domestic violence victims and Guardian Ad Litem services to at-risk children. DCVLP attorneys staff the Domestic Violence Intake Center at DC Superior Courthouse every Monday and provide walk-in clinic services every Wednesday at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Southwest DC. Marcou stated that the Wednesday clinic sees over 400 people annually and that she never dreamed that DCVLP would grow to be so big. “I am very excited that we have been able to engage thousands of attorneys in pro bono work to help District residents in desperate need.” If you are interested in getting involved, sign up to attend DCVLP's volunteer recruitment lunch on Thursday, September 13. Register here.
On Friday we held our annual Supreme Court Term in Review: View from the Press Gallery. The panel of leading Supreme Court reporters covered the major decisions from the just-concluded term and predicted what lies ahead post-Justice Kennedy. If you weren't able to attend, check out C-SPAN's coverage.