Making Justice Real

The Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Jun 24

2016

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Long-Time Legal Aid Lawyer Julie Becker Confirmed to Superior Court Bench

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Julie Becker, Supervising Attorney

We are delighted to announce that Julie Becker, Supervising Attorney in the Housing Law Unit, has been confirmed to serve on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Julie was nominated by President Obama on April 30, 2015, and was confirmed by the Senate last night. As President Barack Obama said when announcing her nomination:  “Throughout her career Julie Helene Becker has shown unwavering integrity and an outstanding commitment to public service.”  We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. Read more →

Jun 17

2016

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Memorial Service Held for PBI Founder Esther F. Lardent

A memorial service for Esther F. Lardent, founder and first president and CEO of the Pro Bono Institute, was held on June 6, at the Sixth and I History Synagogue in Washington, DC.  Esther passed away on April 4 after an extended illness.  Her 45-year legal career was dedicated to fighting for civil rights and equal protection under the law, during which she directed pioneering and creative approaches to tackling serious access to justice issues.

Learn more about Esther’s extraordinary life and career in this moving memorial program book and slideshow.

Jun 13

2016

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Legal Aid Spotlighted in Report on Innovative Debt Defense

A new report unveiled by the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) last week, highlights the importance of debt defense programs in providing critical civil legal services to economically vulnerable consumers.  While consumer debts used to be collected primarily outside of the court system, debt collectors now rely heavily on lawsuits as a means of collecting debt.  In fact, because of the large number of debt collection cases filed in our courts, DC Superior Court has set aside entire dockets to deal solely with consumer debt collection cases.

Although every debt collector appears in court with experienced counsel, defendants are generally unaware of the difference a lawyer can make and virtually never come to court represented by counsel.  In what the Federal Trade Commission described as a “broken system,” debt collectors take advantage of the uneven playing field by suing on time-barred debts, filing suits based on incorrect or insufficient evidence, failing to notify consumers of suits, and garnishing exempt funds from bank accounts. Read more →

Jun 13

2016

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Legal Aid Helps Shape Implementation of Medicaid Program for People with Disabilities

Last week, I submitted comments on behalf of Legal Aid on the District of Columbia Medicaid program’s Home and Community-Based Services Waiver for the Elderly and Persons with Physical Disabilities.  The waiver authorizes DC to pay for services that allow thousands of residents to receive needed care and supports in their homes, and avoid moving into a nursing home or institution.

Our comments focused specifically on a program within the waiver that is being implemented for the first time this year.  The program, Services My Way, allows people to select and hire their own attendant staff, rather than receiving services through a home care agency.  We previously blogged about our cautious optimism around the program.

In our comments, Legal Aid expressed support for the waiver renewal but also offered suggestions for critical modifications so that Services My Way benefits those who chose it.  It is our hope that the Department of Health Care Finance implements our comments to improve the Services My Way program for District residents who rely on these essential services.

Jun 10

2016

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2016 Generous Associates Campaign Kicks Off Strong

The 2016 Generous Associates Campaign, an extraordinary effort run by law firm associates across our city to help make justice real for our client community, has started in high gear!  On June 8th, we celebrated the launch of the Campaign at a reception hosted by Hogan Lovells’ Neal Katyal, the Generous Associates Campaign Honorary Chair.

Neal talked about the importance of supporting Legal Aid, singling out the case of Sergio Moreira and how he was unfairly being sued for $7,000 in back rent that he claimed he did not owe.  Mr. Moreira is paralyzed and lives off of disability benefits, so this amount was overwhelming.  Legal Aid helped Mr. Moreira prove that he had indeed fully paid his rent, and furthermore, that the landlord had not addressed the deplorable conditions Mr. Moreira had been living in. Read more →