We were back! It felt so good to be in the same room again to celebrate the dedication of pro bono volunteers and public-interest lawyers in DC. We came away energized and inspired and ready to face whatever challenges 2023 brings. Read on to share in the celebration.
DC Pro Bono Week official;y kicked off with Pro Bono Goes Local! Our panelists began with a lightning round covering where the need for pro bono attorneys exists within our community by highlighting the nuances of our community, statistics that drive their work, and where they see the gaps in justice for District neighbors.
Network for Victim Recovery of DC (NVRDC) is proud to celebrate the dedication and commitment of our Board Chair, Liam Montgomery. Liam, an eleven-year veteran of United States Naval Aviation and a partner at Williams & Connolly LLP, has been a passionate advocate for survivors of crime, veterans, and numerous other pro bono causes. His leadership in pro bono work is an inspiration to others at his firm and throughout our DC community.
Following the end of D.C.’s eviction moratorium, many residents were worried about falling behind on their rent and the looming threat of losing their homes. When the DC Office of the Attorney General planned pop-up clinics to help residents access emergency federal funding for housing and utility expenses, dozens of Georgetown students – including a Black Law Students Association contingent that made this a group pro bono project – joined the efforts.
Maya Angelou profoundly said, “If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.” I am reminded of this quote when I reflect on Mary Gately’s profound service and deep commitment to the pro bono work she performs as DC Affordable Law Firm’s Litigation Director, a role she performs entirely on a pro bono basis. Across the past three years, Mary’s work with and on behalf of DC Affordable Law Firm’s clients soared to unprecedented levels, leading to exceptional legal outcomes for dozens of DC Affordable Law Firm’s low- and modest-income clients while synchronously shaping and inspiring the careers of the next generation of public interest attorneys.
It is inspiring to speak with Mariah Hines, an associate in Sidley Austin’s Healthcare group, about the quantity, variety, and impact of her many pro bono engagements. Her pro bono matters span across practice areas including disability benefits, immigration, housing discrimination, and more. Even more impressive is that Mariah has done so much to help others so early in her legal career, having graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2020.
Join us in welcoming Chris Marin as our new Program Director. Chris is a recent graduate of the American University, Washington College of Law, where they cultivated a passion for access to justice and finding innovative connections between legal professionals to advance the work of pro bono and the public-interest community.
On an early morning in January 2021, two women judges in Afghanistan were assassinated in their car on their way to court. The other women judges, many of whom had tried or sentenced Taliban members, soon realized they were in serious danger and sought help from the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ). That May, the IAWJ formed an Afghan Women Judges Support Committee which included leaders from New Zealand, the US, Australia, Canada, Spain, and the UK. The Support Committee began exploring ways to support its sister judges in peril. As Taliban control expanded and the Afghan government began to collapse, not only were the women judges stripped of their ability to practice their profession, but they began receiving threats, warning letters, and visits to their homes demonstrating that their lives were at risk. Family members were abducted and beaten. By late summer, as the fall of Kabul approached and danger to the women judges escalated, the IAWJ asked two major law firms to join in the effort to assist them on a pro bono basis.
Jeremy Calsyn has been a pro bono champion at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen, and Hamilton since he joined the firm in 1999, and especially since he became a partner in 2008. In his regular work in the antitrust space, Jeremy handles a broad range of matters, including merger reviews, criminal and civil government investigations, and complex class action litigations. However, in addition to his many professional accomplishments in the legal field, it’s Jeremy’s pro bono leadership and commitment to pro bono services that truly stands out. Not only does he regularly provide hands-on supervision of pro bono cases, but Jeremy also serves as Pro Bono Committee Chair in the D.C. office, supporting the work of the D.C. Pro Bono Attorney and offering guidance to the firm’s pro program as a whole.
The recent influx of migrants to the District has shined a renewed spotlight on the difficult immigration landscape of the past decade and beyond. (UCs) are expected to navigate the incredibly complex U.S. immigration legal system alone, placed in removal proceedings in immigration court without the right to counsel, and often forced to defend themselves against highly skilled attorneys representing the government. Central to their success is the need for zealous, high-quality legal representation, which could not be achieved without the involvement of pro bono attorneys. Christine Webber and Johanna Hickman of Cohen, Milstein, Sellers, and Toll, PLLC are two such stellar attorneys who have served as counsel for a KIND client since 2014.
We are now accepting nominations for our 2022 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 government pro bono lawyers. Our 2022 Awards Ceremony will take place on Thursday, December 1. 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 are due by 5 pm ET on Wednesday, October 5, 2022. The awards criteria and nomination instructions are here.
On Thursday, July 7, 2021, lawyers, law students, and legal professionals around the country attended our 34th annual Supreme Court: View from the Press Gallery event. Our panel of journalists who cover the Court talked about the unusual recently concluded term. The discussion started off with everyone agreeing that it was a momentous term for a number of reasons.
Washington Council of Lawyers' Annual Summer Forum began on June 8 with an engaging and eye-opening discussion by keynote speaker Kristen Clarke. Kristen Clarke is the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice and served as a lifelong civil rights lawyer and advocate in the public service. AAG Clarke was joined in conversation by Nicole Austin-Hillery, President & CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. and Washington Council of Lawyers Board Member. This first session touched on topics of opportunities such as the Attorney’s General Honors Program in the Justice Department, the ability civil rights lawyers have to tackle important issues, the duty to give back to the community, and promoting the importance of pro bono work. Read on to find out more.
On Friday, February 25, 2022, President Joseph R. Biden fulfilled a promise to nominate the first Black woman as a justice to the U.S. Supreme Court if given the opportunity. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historic nomination is momentous, not just because history s being made, but also in recognition of the barriers Black women must overcome in entering and succeeding in the legal profession and, more specifically, on the bench. In honor of Black History Month and Women's History month, we take a look at some amazing D.C. Black women trailblazers.