By Tori Roth Jay Owen has been an attorney in the DOJ Antitrust Division since graduating from George Washington University Law School in 2007. Soon after beginning his practice, he started doing pro bono work for the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. Each year at the Clinic, Jay conducts four or five intake sessions. Over the years, he has opened about 150 cases. Most of them were open and shut (some even closed the same day), but several have lasted longer. For Jay, the most rewarding part of pro bono work is helping his clients with concrete problems, even if it means removing only one of many stumbling blocks. In other instances, his pro bono work can be tremendously valuable simply because he is there to listen. One of Jay's cases has turned into a standing pro bono client, and Jay is always willing to listen when this client calls with a new issue, as he has about once every six months for the past two years. For anyone interested in pro bono work, the biggest hurdle is the intimidation factor – the fear of doing something wrong. But Jay advises that many pro bono clients have no one else to turn to, and they appreciate any assistance, even if it's not perfect. And as Jay has demonstrated, pro bono work allows lawyers to assist not only an individual, but also an entire community. One final note: Jay became interested in working with the homeless during law school, when he started volunteering with Gifts for the Homeless, a non-profit staffed by volunteers from the Washington, DC legal community, and that serves the local homeless population. Jay now serves on its board and encourages everyone to participate in their annual clothing drive, which will take place Friday, December 6 through Sunday, December 8.
Ed Eliasberg is a career government lawyer who has served as a staff attorney with the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department for over 35 years. When the Department of Justice launched its Pro Bono Program in 1996, Ed was one of the first attorneys to become involved. After obtaining a successful outcome in his first pro bono case -- in which he represented a blind client against a furniture company -- Ed became a leading model of a government attorney committed to pro bono work. Attorneys familiar with Eliasberg’s pro bono efforts describe him as a “true believer” in public service and as a person who “leads by example.” Ed participated the first time the Antitrust Division staffed the D.C. Bar Advice and Referral Clinic in 1998 and has both attended and recruited volunteers for nearly every clinic since then. In 2005, he became the Antitrust Division’s Pro Bono Coordinator and an active member of DOJ's Pro Bono Committee. Ed's colleagues have recognized his “uncommon commitment to pro bono work,” demonstrated by the numerous pro bono fairs, committee events, and brown bag lunches he has organized over the years. Another colleagues notes that he is constantly searching for “new, innovative ways to the get the word out” about pro bono opportunities. Ed has also been instrumental in expanding federal government pro bono programs outside of Washington, D.C. He helped launch the now-thriving Pro Bono Program in Chicago, Illinois, and was active in securing the full support of the Division’s leadership for the project. The success of the Chicago program has led to the creation of similar pro bono programs in New York City, San Francisco, and Denver. Asked about his recognition by the Washington Council of Lawyers, Ed said that he hopes this award will help “encourage more government lawyers to do more pro bono work.” Want to learn more? Attend next month’s Awards Ceremony – featuring a keynote speech by State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh.