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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…)
Pro Bono Week Profile: Mike Nardotti (Squire Patton Boggs)

Pro Bono Week Profile: Mike Nardotti (Squire Patton Boggs)

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…)
Pro Bono Week Profile: In-House Lawyers At Fannie Mae

Pro Bono Week Profile: In-House Lawyers at Fannie Mae

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…)
Pro Bono Week Profile: Alexis DeBernardis (Crowell & Moring)

Pro Bono Week Profile: Alexis DeBernardis (Crowell & Moring)

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…)
Pro Bono Week Profile: Lara Burke (Bruch Hanna)

Pro Bono Week Profile: Lara Burke (Bruch Hanna)

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…)
Pro Bono Week Profile: Ryan Guilds (Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer)

Pro Bono Week Profile: Ryan Guilds (Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer)

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…)
Pro Bono Week Profile: David Young (Ropes & Gray)

Pro Bono Week Profile: David Young (Ropes & Gray)

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…)
Pro Bono Week Profile: Katie Towt & Ahuva Battams (Federal Govt)

Pro Bono Week Profile: Katie Towt & Ahuva Battams (Federal Govt)

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…)
DC Pro Bono Week 2017: Entertaining An Idea

DC Pro Bono Week 2017: Entertaining an Idea

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…)
$10 Million For East Of The River Students To Attend College

$10 Million for East of the River Students to Attend College

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a $10 million grant for the D.C. College Access Program, a nonprofit that helps Ward 7 and Ward 8 students afford college. For more than two decades, DC-CAP has helped District students attend college, providing financial assistance as well as counseling and advice to students and their families. The new grant will allow DC-CAP to partner with the College Success Foundation to expand their outreach to middle schools in Southeast and will help to provide up to $25,000 in scholarships for each eligible student. (more…)
Our New Board Members (2017)

Our New Board Members (2017)

This year six fine lawyers are joining our Board of Directors: Emily Batt is an associate in the Employment Law Department at Paul Hastings and also serves as the Pro Bono Coordinator for the firm's DC office. Before moving to the District, Emily attended University of Virginia School of Law, worked with the Legal Aid Justice Center and Migrant Farmworker Project, and coordinated UVA’s Immigration Law Program. Emily and her fiancé Noah enjoy hiking and camping with their dog, Liam (recently featured on The Dogs of Public Interest Law). (more…)
Dogs Of Public Interest Law: Liam

Dogs of Public Interest Law: Liam

Our new board member, Emily Batt (Paul Hastings) has a great Australian Sheppard named Liam. Check out Liam and all the other public-interest dogs at The Dogs of Public Interest Law.
2017 DC Pro Bono Week: Full Schedule Of Events

2017 DC Pro Bono Week: Full Schedule of Events

Each fall, as part of the annual National Pro Bono celebration, we organize DC Pro Bono Week. DC Pro Bono Week 2017 takes place from October 22–28, and will offer lots of opportunities to do pro bono work, learn new pro bono skills, meet other pro bono lawyers, and expand your pro bono horizons. The full schedule of events is below. There are also a number of Affiliated Trainings taking place before, during, and after Pro Bono Week. (more…)
Dine Around For Justice (August 2017)

Dine Around for Justice (August 2017)

Dine Around for Justice is a fun and easy way to promote greater access to justice in the District of Columbia. On each Thursday in August, we will partner with a restaurant who will donate a portion of the day's proceeds to Washington Council of Lawyers. Dine Around for Justice will raise awareness and support for our mission of increasing access to free legal help for those in need. There are three opportunities this August to Dine Around for Justice. August 3: We invite you to make a reservation to dine at Farmers & Distillers (600 Massachusetts Avenue NW) on Thursday, August 3. Farmers & Distillers was named Best New Restaurant in 2017 by the Washington City Paper. Gather your friends and make plans to enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner at Farmers & Distillers on August 3. You will enjoy an outstanding meal and support a worthy cause. August 17: Enjoy a meal anytime between 11 am and 1 pm at The Greene Turtle (601 F Street NW) on August 17. You must print and bring this Greene Turtle Flyer with you in order to participate.  Enjoy burgers, crab cakes, salads, beer, and justice! August 31: Bid on a seat at the lunch table with Legal Services Corporation President Jim Sandman at RPM Italian (650 K Street NW). Five lucky winners will enjoy an antipasto, entree, and dessert as well as fantastic company and conversation. Jim Sandman is one of the best access-to-justice leaders issues in the country. Get the bidding started here! The online auction ends on August 24. Join us for one, two, or all three opportunities to Dine Around for Justice!