By Debbie Cuevas-Hill
Leah Myers is the 2021 recipient of the Washington Council of Lawyers Legal Services Award. Through her work at the Landlord and Tenant Branch of the D.C. Superior Court, at the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, and her current work at Legal Counsel for the Elderly, Leah has aimed to improve access to our legal system for low-income D.C. residents, and has been incredibly successful in this pursuit over the past seventeen years.
In every position she has held, Leah has improved the quality of DC’s legal services at its core. Her accomplishments are applauded by the legal services organizations where she has worked and the many other people and organizations who have interacted with her over the years. Her colleagues expressed, “We have witnessed firsthand Leah’s intellect, work ethic, high professional and ethical standards, and commitment to rigorous legal analysis.” Another colleague notes, “She is the same kind, thoughtful, funny, and brilliant person in all walks of life.”
Leah has been the Manager of Legal Counsel for the Elderly’s (LCE) Hotline for over 6 years, impacting nearly 10,000 older adults annually. Her work managing the hotline ensures that older adults in the District have a place to call to protect their housing, economic security, health, and safety and have access to an attorney. Her role at LCE includes tackling complex ethical questions on a routine basis. She is an expert on ethical issues that arise when dealing with clients with diminished capacity. Her colleagues note that she is generous with her time and expertise both within LCE and the broader legal community.
When the pandemic hit, Leah implemented changes to LCE’s Hotline, which included changing technology, rerouting call flow, and re-training staff to ensure clients continued to have access to LCE’s legal services without skipping a beat. As a result of those changes, LCE’s Hotline is consistently serving clients within two business days, and emergency cases are prioritized for an even quicker response. Leah did not stop there, she shared the process improvements with other legal services providers across the country, including to the National Association of Senior Legal Hotlines in March 2021, and published in the Fall 2021 issue of the Management Information Exchange Journal.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine explains, “Leah helped develop a robust elder justice referral system to—and from—LCE’s Hotline to ensure that vulnerable seniors in the District have access to legal services and benefit from enforcement of the District’s laws.” Leah worked with the Office of the Attorney General to streamline the referral process between both offices to ensure prompt referrals of cases involving financial abuse and exploitation of at-risk seniors.
Her colleagues share that her greatest contribution might be the large number of attorneys and judges that she has trained, mentored, and educated. She is an expert in a wide field of legal practice, including elder abuse and exploitation, guardianship/conservatorship, probate, estate planning, bankruptcy, consumer law, real property, landlord-tenant, personal injury, public benefits, civil claims, protective orders, and ethics.
Throughout the past seventeen years, Leah’s goal has been to promote a good experience for volunteers, pro bono attorneys, and colleagues so that clients get the highest quality legal advice possible. Please join us to learn more about Leah and our other awards recipients at our 50th Anniversary Awards Ceremony, on Thursday, December 2, at 5:00 pm ET. Register here.
Debbie Cuevas Hill is a member of the Washington Council of Lawyers Board of Directors and co-chair of our Special Events & Fundraising Committee. She also is a colleague of Leah’s at Legal Counsel for the Elderly.