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Government Pro Bono Roundtable 2019

Government Pro Bono Roundtable 2019

Last week, we held our annual Government Pro Bono Roundtable. A panel of seasoned government lawyers discussed how and why they have made pro bono work a part of their legal careers. We’ve summarized the questions posed to and answers provided by our panelists: Jonathan Jacobson, Nicholas Kazmerski, Laura Klein, and Catalina Martinez, and Liz Symonds. The main point is that pro bono work is fun and rewarding for government lawyers, too.
“Mapping Eviction”: The Eviction Lab Highlights The Eviction Epidemic With Exhibit And Discussion At The National Building Museum

“Mapping Eviction”: The Eviction Lab Highlights the Eviction Epidemic with Exhibit and Discussion at the National Building Museum

On January 24, James Hendrickson and Lavar Edmonds, of the Eviction Lab, delivered a presentation on the organization’s work, which has established the first dataset and research tool focused on eviction rates in the United States. The talk was held at the National Building Museum, which currently features the “Evicted” exhibit, exploring the causes and impact of evictions through photographs and stories reflecting the affordable housing crisis, on display through May 19, 2019. The Eviction Lab plans to create a national, centralized database with information they are still gathering, but encourages interested parties to utilize their available studies and research to increase awareness of the housing crisis. All of their data and related work is available for download, free of charge, on their website.
The Public-Interest Legacy Of Judge Patricia Wald

The Public-Interest Legacy of Judge Patricia Wald

By Gregory M. Lipper Public-interest lawyers can and did learn a lot from Judge Patricia Wald, who died at age 90 on January 12. Many knew her as a giant of the District’s bar and bench—an influential writer turned successful public-interest litigator turned pathbreaking federal judge turned international war-crimes jurist. Fewer, perhaps, know that she was one of the lawyers who founded our own organization, Washington Council of Lawyers, in the early 1970s. Through it all, she marched to the beat of her own drummer, retaining a zeal for helping vulnerable people, a refreshing sense of humility and candor, and a willingness to push hard—and tell people what they didn’t want to hear—on behalf of society’s most vulnerable.
Puns Contest!

Puns Contest!

AND WE HAVE A WINNER!! Thank you to everyone who contributed such witty quips. The most clever are first place winner Steve Schulman, second place Nathaniel Maranwe, and third place Elaine Stamp.
Resources For Furloughed Government Employees

Resources for Furloughed Government Employees

With so many federal government employees struggling during the shutdown, we've collected links to and summaries of resources available to federal employees who are furloughed. From free food to free CLE programs, many groups are trying to support those affected by the shutdown.
Martha’s Table And Lyft Join Forces To Provide Grocery Access To Residents East Of The River

Martha’s Table and Lyft Join Forces to Provide Grocery Access to Residents East of the River

By Jessalyn Schwartz Starting on January 1, 2019, the Lyft Grocery Access Program will offer affordable rides to three East of the River grocery stores for 500 eligible families in an effort to combat common barriers of transportation and access to healthy foods. Lyft has partnered with Martha’s Table, a local nonprofit, that has been working to strengthen families and communities through educational programming, healthy food projects and family support services, to implement the six-month pilot program. For $2.50 per ride, up to two members of participating families will be able to share rides to one of three local grocery stores (Giant at 1535 Alabama Avenue SE, Safeway at 322 40th Street NE, and Safeway at 2845 Alabama Avenue SE) or the Martha’s Table food markets (locations here). Eligible families must have at least one child enrolled in one of the six participating elementary schools or engaged in Martha’s Table’s educational programs and must attend an in-person orientation with Martha’s Table and Lyft prior to using their rides. Families will receive up to 50 rides through June 30, 2019. According to Lindsay Morton, Director of Healthy Markets at Martha’s Table, families have long reported that transportation is one of the top three barriers to accessing grocery stores. The program seeks to lessen the financial and logistical burdens associated with getting to grocery stores. Lyft has been a supporter of Martha’s Table for over a year and came to the nonprofit to find a way to stand with the DC community and leverage each entity’s powers to combat issues with food access and the prevalence of food deserts. Martha’s Table has been an essential player in working to resolve this problem in the city and is known to be a convener of both residents utilizing their programs and influencers who may impact the scalability of effective efforts. Collaborating through a series of meetings, Lyft and Martha’s Table were able to come up with a number of ideas, test their efficacy, and quickly bring the pilot program to fruition. Martha’s Table has reached out to local partner schools, families engaged in their programming, and community members to spread the word. If the program proves successful, they will seek to generate funding strategies to take the program to a larger scale. The goal is to first expand the program to more families in Wards 7 and 8 and then to grow the program to reach the rest of the District, and the greater DC Metro area. The program will utilize a survey model to assess its efficacy, with participants sharing information on their grocery shopping habits before, during, and at the conclusion of the pilot period. Morton shared that the enthusiasm from last week’s announcement has made the idea of implementing the program on a larger scale seem possible and that the organizations were excited to begin the new year with an innovative approach to reducing transportation and food access barriers in DC. For more information about the program, please visit the Lyft Grocery Access Program website. Families interested in joining the program can apply here. Registration is on a first come, first served basis. Registration will remain open until 500 families are enrolled.   Jessalyn Schwartz is an editor of East of the River Profiles. 

U.S. District Court Seeks Nominations For Daniel M. Gribbon Pro Bono Advocacy Award

U.S. District Court Seeks Nominations for Daniel M. Gribbon Pro Bono Advocacy Award

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia seeks nominations for the Daniel M. Gribbon Pro Bono Advocacy Award. Nominees may be an individual or firm that has demonstrated distinguished advocacy before the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in a pro bono matter that concluded between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018. Candidates may self-nominate, and non-winning nominations from previous years may be resubmitted if the matter falls within the eligible dates. Nominations, which will be accepted beginning on January 1, 2019, must be in writing, and are limited to six (6) pages in length. Nominations may consist of a brief (no longer than two pages) description of the pro bono matter, as well as letters of support. No pleadings or court filings may be attached. The two-page description must be received no later than 12:00 noon on Friday, March 1, 2019. Letters of support will also be accepted through 12:00 noon on Friday, March 1, 2019. All nomination documents may be submitted electronically to the member of the D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services responsible for the nominations process, Michael Williams, at michael.williams@kirkland.com. Alternatively, an original plus 10 copies of the nomination may be submitted to be received by the deadline to: Michael F. Williams, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, 655 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005. The family and friends of Daniel M. Gribbon have graciously endowed this award in honor of Dan Gribbon's lifetime commitment to and strong support of pro bono legal services. The nominations process is managed for the District Court by the D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services. Requests for further information should be directed to Standing Committee member Michael F. Williams by telephone at (202) 879-5123 or by email at michael.williams@kirkland.com. More information can be found here.

2018 Awards Ceremony

2018 Awards Ceremony

By Alexis Applegate Thank you again to everyone who joined us at our 2018 Awards Ceremony, and extra special thanks to our award winners for the work that they do to serve our community. We were delighted to have Board Member and immediate past President Kelly Voss accept our Law Firm Award on behalf of Covington & Burling. We are proud to recognize the firm’s commitment to pro bono service, support for DC’s public-interest community and the myriad ways Covington has partnered with Washington Council of Lawyers to help us further our mission. We were also excited to recognize the hard work of our Government Pro Bono Award recipient, Catalina Martinez from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and our Legal Service Award recipient Lindsy Miles-Hare from Ayuda for their tireless devotion to ensuring that their clients receive the best quality representation and the support they provide their colleagues in the pursuit of justice. Chief Deputy Attorney General Natalie O. Ludaway represented the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia as we applauded the OAG’s creation of a new pro bono program which will allow more local government attorneys to take pro bono cases to help our neighbors in need. Lastly, it was an honor to award Shelley Broderick from the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law with the Presidents Award for Public Service in recognition of her decades of service to the District of Columbia and its residents. Shelley’s leadership, encouragement, and example have inspired new generations of public-interest lawyers and made our community stronger. Shelley is truly a catalyst for public service. We had such a wonderful evening celebrating with our friends and colleagues. Each year the Awards Ceremony not only serves to recognize the wonderful work of our award recipients, but also gives our community a chance to gather, have some fun (ask Shelley Broderick if you need help having fun), and recharge for the year of important work ahead. As Lindsy Miles-Hare, quoting Nelson Mandella, reminded us, "Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice." Good luck with all the hard work you will do for our community in the coming year, and please reach out to the Washington Council of Lawyers when you need assistance. See you in 2019!!   Alexis Applegate is the Communications Director for Washington Council of Lawyers.    

RECAP: 2018 DC Pro Bono Week Sealing & Expungement Summit

RECAP: 2018 DC Pro Bono Week Sealing & Expungement Summit

By Omar Delgadillo On October 26th, D.C. Law Students in Court (LSIC) hosted a Sealing & Expungement Summit at the Department of Employment Services building at their Minnesota Avenue Office in Northeast. This DC Pro Bono Week event connected members of the community with lawyers to help with the expungement and sealing of their criminal records. The Summit was an informational fair as well as a clinic, embodying LSIC's client-centered approach to representation.  In this effort, LSIC's Eviction Defense Project, LSIC's Civil Protection Order Program and LSIC's Social Work Program were present at the Summit to assist attendees with other legal services. Community partners provided information to Summit attendees on how to overcome the employment and housing barriers that arrest records can present.  LSIC partners at the Summit included the the D.C. Department of Employment Services, the D.C. Office on Human Rights, the Mayor's Office on Returning Citizens Affairs, the Project Empowerment Program  and Howard University's Fair Housing Clinic. Each one of these partners provided information on the law surrounding housing and employment discrimination to the Summit attendees.  With the coordination of Jen Tschirch, Pro Bono Coordinator at Georgetown University Law Center, several GULC law student volunteers also participated in the Summit. The D.C. Office of Human Rights provided information about actions individuals can take to protect against unlawful discrimination on the basis of their criminal record. For example, they can file a complaint against an employer or landlord whose applications contain questions about criminal records, or if there is reason to believe that their housing or employment applications were rejected before the offer stage because of their criminal record. One attendee said he has been rejected nine times in his search for housing and was told directly that one of his applications was rejected because of a prior conviction. If true, this would constitute a violation of D.C.'s Ban the Box law, which prohibits a criminal record from being considered early in the housing application process. Another attendee said he was homeless and believed he was facing trouble getting a job because of his criminal history; he had not received responses to his job applications despite having a high school diploma. The Expungement Summit involved eighteen attorneys from four major DC law firms (Arnold & Porter, Latham & Watkins, Reed Smith, Steptoe & Johnson).  LSIC's clinic had a big assist from Maya Sheppard at Neighborhood Legal Services Program.  Due to the Summit's success, LSIC has been able to pair more than a dozen Summit attendees with our pro bono partners for full representation in the weeks since the Summit. Washington Council of Lawyers was instrumental in helping LSIC offer this pro bono opportunity to the DC legal community. The Sealing & Expungement Summit provided dozens of individuals with much-needed information and guidance. It was a great success! Questions? Want to know more? Contact: LSIC Expungement Hotline: (202) 607-2721 or expungement@dclawstudents.org   Omar Delgadillo is a member of the East of the River Profiles Committee.

D.C. Office Of Attorney General Adopts Pro Bono Program

D.C. Office of Attorney General Adopts Pro Bono Program

By Alexis Applegate At the Washington Council of Lawyers annual Awards Ceremony on December 4, we will recognize the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for the District of Columbia for its recent adoption of an office-wide Pro Bono Program that encourages lawyers in its office to provide critical legal services to individuals in need. Attorney General Karl A. Racine and his team have worked diligently with Washington Council of Lawyers on this Program, which provides guidance to OAG attorneys who wish to participate in pro bono work. The new Pro Bono Program provides a helpful framework for these attorneys, detailing, among other subjects, the types of pro bono work they can take on and the guidelines they must follow when participating in pro bono projects. In 2016, Washington Council of Lawyers began to discuss the benefits of a pro bono program and to provide technical support to OAG. We recognized that these local government attorneys and legal staff possess both the skill set and the commitment to public service necessary to help those in need of legal services in our city. Learning from the experience of federal government attorneys, we realized that a formal program would enable staff attorneys to engage in this important work. From the start of this project, Attorney General Racine and his staff enthusiastically supported these efforts. We especially would like to thank Elaine Block, Ethics Counsel for OAG, for her ongoing work to create and finalize this policy. We are delighted that Chief Deputy Attorney General Natalie O. Ludaway will be representing OAG at our Awards Ceremony, where we will fete this significant achievement. Please join us on December 4 as we congratulate the OAG on such an exciting accomplishment. Alexis Applegate is Communications Director for Washington Council of Lawyers.