We are excited to recognize Tracy Suhr as the 2022 Government Pro Bono Award recipient. Tracy is a Senior Attorney at the Department of Justice (DOJ) Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Office of Chief Counsel. Among government pro bono volunteers, Tracy stands out for the variety of pro bono activities she volunteers for and her service as the DEA pro bono coordinator as well as the way she encourages her colleagues to volunteer their efforts to pro bono work. Over the last few years, Tracy has dedicated her time to the DC Bar Pro Bono Center, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Whitman-Walker Health, Neighborhood Legal Services Program, Tzedek DC, Legal Counsel for the Elderly, and Street Law. She will soon be adding the Veterans Pro Bono Consortium’s clinic to that list!
Tracy’s pro bono service blossomed when she joined the DOJ. Tracy has represented clients in housing and eviction cases, assisted elderly clients in tax matters, drafted wills and other life planning documents, assisted clients with debt collection matters, and represented a client in a name change court order. She has also volunteered to conduct regular intake at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, assist with the Homeless FOIA document review project, and participated in the Street Law/NALP Legal Pipeline Diversity Program.
Tracy gets tremendous satisfaction from seeing her clients feel the weight of their problems lifted. One of her clients for whom she was able to seal eviction records was so excited to look at the online docket and see that the case had been removed. The client really felt that she had a fresh start. Tracy also noted how she can see the impact of her work. While appearing in court with one client on a name change matter, she observed how hard it was for unrepresented litigants to speak to the judge and explain their case. Tracy said she could see how she was a bridge between her client and the judge, making her client’s access to the legal system real.
Not only does Tracy take on individual cases, but she also helps her colleagues find pro bono opportunities. She has served as the DEA pro bono coordinator since 2019. Her first goal in the position was to make the approval process for DEA attorneys to complete pro bono work more accessible. She has built an infrastructure for their pro bono program, developing an intranet page and quarterly pro bono newsletter. Tracy bridges the gap for new attorneys by reaching out personally to new hires to introduce them to the pro bono program. As a result of her efforts, more DEA attorneys and paralegals have gotten involved with pro bono work than ever before.
We are thrilled to honor the dedication Tracy has to pro bono service and the ways her efforts have created greater access to the legal system for clients and greater access to pro bono work for her colleagues.
Join us to celebrate Tracy and all the other award recipients at our 2022 Awards Ceremony. Then share your congratulations on social media using #Awards22.