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DC Pro Bono Week 2018: Exploring New Horizons

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!
Improving Children’s Literacy East Of The River

Improving Children’s Literacy East of the River

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. 

Meet Our New Board Members (2018)

Meet Our New Board Members (2018)

We're pleased to welcome two new members and one returning member to our Board of Directors. Arusha Gordon, Carolyn Lerner, and Prianka Sharma join a dedicated group of public-interest professionals who help us achieve our mission of supporting access to justice.
DC Volunteer Lawyers Project Offers East Of The River Resources For Victims Of Domestic Violence

DC Volunteer Lawyers Project Offers East of the River Resources for Victims of Domestic Violence

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.

2018 Summer Forum: Full Video

2018 Summer Forum: Full Video

Last month at our Summer Forum, ACLU National Legal Director David Cole discussed civil-rights litigation, the Trump administration, and building social movements; he was interviewed by our board member Nicole Austin-Hillery.

Supreme Court View From The Press Gallery: Photos And Video

Supreme Court View from the Press Gallery: Photos and Video

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.      

2018 Summer Forum: Photos

2018 Summer Forum: Photos

Yesterday we held our annual Summer Pro Bono & Public Interest Forum, featuring a discussion with ACLU National Legal Director David Cole and breakout panels on different types of pro bono and public-interest practice. Enjoy a few photos from the event.
Summer Forum Preview: Endless Chances To Practice Poverty Law

Summer Forum Preview: Endless chances to practice poverty law

By Alexis Applegate Many students go to law school to help people in their communities, and many of those decide to practice poverty law. This year at the Summer Pro Bono & Public Interest Forum, we'll examine how that passion to help people intersects with issues affecting low-income residents of Washington, DC. (more…)
Summer Forum Preview: Suing The Federal Government

Summer Forum Preview: Suing the Federal Government

By Karly Satowiak This year at the Summer Pro Bono & Public Interest Forum, we're adding a new panel in response to the current political climate. Our panelists will discuss how various sectors have come together to hold the federal government accountable, the diverse ways that they are challenging federal policies, and the role that the private sector plays in this work. (more…)
Summer Forum Preview: Justice For Immigrants

Summer Forum Preview: Justice for Immigrants

By Emily Batt At our 2018 Summer Pro Bono and Public Interest Forum, the Immigration and Human Rights panel will discuss the work on the ground done by immigrant-rights organizations both in the District and around the country. During this especially timely panel, we'll discuss the current state of immigration advocacy under the Trump administration, as well as guidance for law students and new lawyers on breaking into immigration law and the practical realities of working at a nonprofit immigration organization. (more…)
Summer Forum Preview: Criminal Justice And Mental Health

Summer Forum Preview: Criminal Justice and Mental Health

By Nicole Foster People with mental-health disorders and substance-abuse disorders are overrepresented in the criminal-justice system. A recent study by the Vera Institute shows that 14.5% of incarcerated men and 31% of incarcerated women have a serious mental illness, compared with only 5% of the general population. This data illustrates the need for more lawyers with the skills, training, and resources to effectively represent indigent criminal defendants with mental-health disorders. (more…)
Summer Forum Preview: Pro Bono Is For Non-Litigators, Too

Summer Forum Preview: Pro bono Is for Non-Litigators, Too

By Christina Jackson Many people (and many TV shows) think of lawyers as fiery litigators who perform in courtrooms. Most lawyers know that the profession is more diverse, but when it comes to pro bono cases, all too many lawyers still think of litigation first. But there’s plenty of rewarding pro bono work to be done by non-litigators as well. (more…)
Dinner & Discussion With Peter Edelman (2018)

Dinner & Discussion with Peter Edelman (2018)

By Anne King In his latest book, Georgetown Law's Peter Edelman highlights several ways in which the government treats poverty like a criminal offense. At our recent Dinner and Discussion, Peter joined us to discuss that book, Not a Crime to Be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America, and also offered advice on public-interest lawyering. (more…)
Free To Ride: Transportation As A Civil-Rights Issue

Free to Ride: Transportation as a Civil-Rights Issue

By Alexis Applegate When someone mentions the Civil Rights Movement, what comes to mind first? For many of us, it’s Rosa Parks’s stand on a bus, which sparked the Montgomery bus boycott and galvanized the broader effort. Yet few of us think about transportation as a civil-rights issue. (more…)
Bread For The City Breaks Ground In Southeast DC

Bread for the City Breaks Ground in Southeast DC

Exciting news from Bread for the City -- the organization has begun construction on a 30,000 square-foot facility on Good Hope Road, more than tripling their footprint in Southeast! The new Southeast Center will provide a variety of new and enhanced services, including primary health care, vision, and dental services; a wellness center; and even a vegetable garden on the roof. The new facility will also feature an expanded jobs center, which will provide job seekers with a new classroom, computer lab, and training space, in addition to offering counseling, mentorship, and long-term support. Bread for the City hopes to open the new and improved Southeast Center in 2020. In the meantime, they plan to continue providing Southeast residents with legal, employment, and social services. Read more about this exciting development in Anacostia here!

Meet Our Intern: Christelle Tshibengabo (Spring 2018)

Meet Our Intern: Christelle Tshibengabo (Spring 2018)

Please welcome our 2018 spring intern, Christelle Tshibengabo, an undergrad at the University of Nebraska. Learn more about her and say hello when you meet her at one of our upcoming events. I was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo to a family of seven; I am the youngest of my siblings. My family and I immigrated to the United States in 2001. I lived in Atlanta, Georgia for most of my life pre-adolescent life. Then my mother and I moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, because Nebraska is known for its cardiologists and she was diagnosed with heart failure. (more…)
Welcome 2018: In Verse

Welcome 2018: In Verse

As we start 2018, our Executive Director, Nancy Lopez and her poetic daughter, Jessica, look back on the past year and ahead to new challenges: As 2017 comes to a close, we reflect on all the things that arose: The programs, people, and legal developments, Some of them were small, and others immense. Trump officially took office; women marched on the mall Lawyers left the federal government - some, but not all. Some went to Dulles to fight the travel ban Pro Bono in Action tapped the earnest, as part of our plan. Our Government Pro Bono Roundtable was sold out: it was packed! Our panelists spoke of those who felt the system was stacked; Believing that without a lawyer by their side They could never prevail; that we could not abide. So we trained lawyers in depositions, objections, and public speaking Teaching those classes were Clap, Horton, Harden and Pinckney. Some Litigation Skills Trainings were casual, others more intense, But they all taught lawyers how to effectively represent clients. Perspectives on Poverty Law was a bit hit, as always Because students learned from judges about court happenings on most days Judges Raffinan, Becker, and Dayson replied eloquently, To questions which were posed by the jovial Chinh Le. The Supreme Court: A View from the Press Gallery was fantastic The convened panel of journalists was slightly bombastic Barnes and Mauro, Liptak and Howe, De Vogue and Savage, you can read them right now! Our Summer Pro Bono & Public-Interest Forum, we’ll never forget: With Ruth Bader Ginsburg, our most popular guest yet! Over 350 people listened in awe, And attended panels on Civil Rights, Immigration, Criminal, Transactional, and Poverty law. Legal Services Corporation provides civil legal aid across the nation Congress threatened to cut their funding - a major abomination! But lawyers rallied from law schools, Big Law, corporations, and more and so this vital funding became fully restored. Emily, Melinda, Katie, Rebecca and Erich, Plus Sarah, together they are our latest board picks. We gladly welcomed these fine new members in, but we had to say a sad goodbye to our beloved Jim Rubin. This year’s DC Pro Bono Week was utterly astounding Constantly it seems to grow—events are compounding. We strove to encourage volunteer service without much fuss Using Pro Bono to Advocate for Social Justice. Our Awards Ceremony closed out the year We honored some outstanding advocates, and shed a few tears Patty Fugere, Mayer Brown, and Jaya Saxena performed incredibly, Also great: Deborah Birnbaum, and Tracy Goodman from CLC! As 2017 comes to a close, we reflect on all the things that arose, But the most important thing through each laugh and tear, Is the hope that comes with each turning year: Time never stops It keeps going and going Meanwhile, our community Keeps growing and growing So let’s make this year the best we’ve seen Welcome, new year, welcome 2018!

2017 Awards Ceremony: Photo Album

2017 Awards Ceremony: Photo Album

Thanks again to everyone who joined us last week for our 2017 Awards Ceremony, and special thanks to our award winners for the work that they do to serve our community. (more…)
2017 Presidents Award For Public Service Award: Patty Mullahy Fugere

2017 Presidents Award for Public Service Award: Patty Mullahy Fugere

Soft-spoken but fierce in pursuing justice, Patty Mullahy Fugere is the 2017 Presidents Award for Public Service recipient. Patty has served as Executive Director of Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless for over 26 years, and she fights hard for her clients. She co-founded the Clinic based on a simple mantra: "If you see something wrong, don't just complain, try to work for a solution."
2017 Law Firm Award: Mayer Brown

2017 Law Firm Award: Mayer Brown

Mayer Brown, winner of our 2017 Law Firm Award, is known for handling complex legal and business challenges for clients worldwide. It also, however, is deeply committed to pro bono and community service. Mayer Brown lawyers have devoted countless hours to helping those in need, including indigent clients here in DC. (more…)
2017 Above & Beyond Award: Jaya Saxena

2017 Above & Beyond Award: Jaya Saxena

By Christina Jackson Jaya Saxena joined our Board in 2014 and has been going gangbusters ever since. By day, she serves in dual capacities: Assistant Director of GW Law School's Career Center and Director of the Dean's Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. And as a member of our board, her ideas and energy have propelled us forward in several ways. So many ways, in fact, that we're delighted to honor her with our 2017 Above & Beyond Award. (more…)
2017 Government Pro Bono Award: Deborah Birnbaum

2017 Government Pro Bono Award: Deborah Birnbaum

By Anne King Deborah Birnbaum, winner of our 2017 Government Pro Bono Award, does it all. She practices at the Office of the Solicitor at the Department of Labor and serves as her office's Pro Bono Program Coordinator. In the latter role, Deborah has developed a robust pro bono culture; her colleagues at the Solicitor's Office are doing more pro bono than ever. Deborah is also a dedicated pro bono advocate in her own right, taking on a variety of cases for many different legal-services organizations. (more…)
2017 Legal Services Award: Tracy Goodman

2017 Legal Services Award: Tracy Goodman

Tracy Goodman, Director of Children’s Law Center’s Healthy Together program, has pioneered the medical-legal partnership movement. She unites experts in law, health, and government to identify the key factors determining children's health and well-being, and then structures legal services to address those needs and change children's lives. Colleagues call her passionate, fiery, and dogged about improving long-term health outcomes for children and their families and in marshaling community resources to enact large-scale, systemic change. Tracy is a talented and creative lawyer and leader, and the winner of our 2017 Legal Services Award. (more…)
Our 2017 Award Recipients

Our 2017 Award Recipients

Our 2017 Awards Ceremony takes place on December 5, and this year we'll honor the following extraordinary lawyers and firms: (more…)