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Photo: Poverty-law panel - 5 panelists + moderator seated at table

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.

Panelists will discuss the many ways that poverty lawyers help their clients, including representing them in court on issues of housing, family, and consumer law; transactional matters such as public benefits; and policy work to help level the playing field for everyone.

Our board member Nancy Drane, Executive Director of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, will moderate the panelists, including:

Jennifer Berger (Legal Counsel for the Elderly)

Jennifer Berger is a Supervising Attorney at Legal Counsel for the Elderly. In her more than ten years there, Jen has advocated for elderly clients facing housing problems. She previously was the Housing Supervisor at Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia as a general civil Attorney at the Legal Aid Bureau of Maryland.

Tianna Gibbs (UDC David A. Clarke School of Law)

Tianna Gibbs is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, where she co-directs the General Practice Clinic.  The General Practice Clinic helps low-income clients with legal cases affecting their most fundamental needs, including family law, health, employment, public benefits, and estate planning. Before joining the Clinic, Professor Gibbs was a Supervising Attorney in the Domestic Violence/Family Law Unit at Legal Aid. While there, she represented domestic violence survivors in custody and civil-protection-order cases as well as custodial and noncustodial parents in child-support cases. She also advocated for policies to improve the District’s system of child support.child support system.

Christopher Peña (Hunton Andrews Kurth)

Christopher Peña is an Associate with Hunton Andrews Kurth, where he leads the firm’s Affordable Housing Initiative as a member of its Pro Bono Leadership Committee. During law school, he worked as a legal intern with the Legal Aid Justice Center in Richmond.

Elliot Weingarten (Brown Rudnick)

Elliot Weingarten is an Associate in the Litigation and White Collar Defense & Government Investigations group at Brown Rudnick. Elliot represents corporations and individuals in SEC and DOJ investigations and related litigation, and has handled cases involving antitrust, accounting, insider trading, and the FCPA.

Tracey Fung (Williams & Connolly)

Tracey Fung is an Associate at Williams & Connolly. She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Children’s Law Center and the Board of Directors of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association Educational Fund.

Hear these panelists, along with keynote remarks by ACLU Legal Director David Cole, at the Summer Forum on Wednesday, June 13, from noon to 2:30 at Georgetown Law.

Alexis Applegate is co-chair of our Communications Committee.

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