Making Justice Real

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

Sep 19

2014

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Investigative Reporting Highlights Pervasive Garnishment and Attachment in Debt Collection

NPR and ProPublica collaborated to produce two related pieces that ran this week on the recent increase in creditors and debt collectors’ use of wage garnishment and bank account attachment when consumers fall behind on paying their debts. The debts are often unexpected medical expenses or credit card bills that piled up after a major life event reduces consumers’ ability to pay. Now, creditors are obtaining judgments that they can use to garnish as much as a quarter of consumers’ income and to seize funds from consumers’ bank accounts. ADP, the largest payroll services processor in the country, estimates that almost 5% of American consumers earning between $25,000 and $40,000 per year face wage garnishment as a result of consumer debt.

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Sep 18

2014

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Legal Director Chinh Le Named One of D.C.’s Rising Stars

RAGLEPHOTO-2012-LADC-CHINH-1046-11552-FINAL-c5x7adobeRGBI’m pleased to announce that Legal Aid’s Legal Director, Chinh Le, has been recognized as one of D.C.’s Rising Stars by the National Law Journal. Chinh is one of 40 “game-changing lawyers age 40 and under” from the private, public and advocacy sectors in the District.

Chinh has had an impressive year as a poverty law leader both within Legal Aid and in the greater D.C. community. As Legal Director, Chinh oversees, manages, and provides leadership for the organization’s legal program, which includes roughly forty lawyers and five legal assistants. He is also a leader city-wide. Shortly after his arrival in D.C., Chinh was elected Co-Chair of the D.C. Consortium of Legal Services Providers and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Washington Council of Lawyers. He was also a lead member of a D.C. Access to Justice Commission task force that led a successful effort to persuade the D.C. Superior Court to promulgate rules allowing for limited scope representation. Read more →

Sep 12

2014

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Vinson & Elkins Pro Bono Attorneys Share Lessons Learned

Over a year ago, a man in his early 50s came to Legal Aid asking for representation in an appeal from the denial of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The client had experience in the construction and landscape fields, but he was no longer able to do that work, primarily due to injuries sustained after falling off a ten-foot wall in 2010.

The client filed his initial SSI benefits application four years ago. When his application was denied, he filed a Request for Reconsideration, and, when that was denied, requested an administrative hearing. A hearing was held, and the Administrative Law Judge again denied his claim.

SLAVIN

Dmitry Slavin

NEACE

Kathleen Neace

RANKIN

Erin Rankin

Undeterred, the client appealed his case to the Appeals Council at the Social Security Administration (SSA). That’s when Vinson & Elkins attorneys Dmitry Slavin, Kathleen Neace and Erin Rankin volunteered to help. Below they share with us some thoughts from their experience. Read more →

Aug 21

2014

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Legal Aid Mourns the Passing of Judge Frank E. Schwelb

The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia mourns the loss of Judge Frank E. Schwelb, who had an extraordinary career as a civil rights lawyer before becoming first a Superior Court, then D.C. Court of Appeals judge.

For more about this extraordinary jurist, we refer you to the Washington Post’s obituary.  Our thoughts go out to Judge Schwelb’s friends and family.

Aug 20

2014

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Pro Bono Attorney Successfully Defends Client on Appeal

Schwartz Craig Photo 54376-9595A young woman who had recently lost her job with an international retail chain will receive unemployment insurance (UI) benefits to which she is entitled, thanks to Craig A. Schwartz, an associate at Baker Botts L.L.P. Craig accepted her case for pro bono representation by referral from Legal Aid. The client had earlier appeared pro se before the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), where she prevailed in her claim for UI benefits. But her former employer challenged the award in the D.C. Court of Appeals, which was when Craig and his colleagues stepped in to help out. Read more →