Making Justice Real

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

Jan 22

2018

How A Government Shutdown Hurts Low-Wage Employees

With the federal government under a shut down today, much of the focus has remained fixed on the political battles, spin, and determining “winners” and “losers.” But there are very real human costs here that we cannot overlook. Legal Aid stands with members of immigrant communities whose lives continue to be in limbo, even with today’s short-term spending bill. We also want to take a moment to acknowledge further populations that are affected negatively by federal dysfunction. Read more →

Jan 10

2018

D.C. Increases Weekly Unemployment Benefits

The District announced this week that it has increased the maximum weekly benefit amount from $425 to $432.

This modest increase is the result of a big change in how the District calculates benefits. For more than 10 years, the maximum benefit rate stagnated at $359 per week, one of the lowest in the country. In 2016, a coalition of unemployed workers, union representatives, and advocates – including Legal Aid – petitioned the D.C. Council for an increase in benefits. Our efforts led to significant changes, including an increase in the maximum benefit from $359 to $425 per week, and a requirement that the Department of Employment Services review the maximum benefit each year. Read more →

Dec 18

2017

It’s Time to End the Paradoxical Punishment of License Suspensions

Imagine learning one day that the DMV has suspended your license because you’ve been unable to pay a several thousand dollar civil judgment. You had hoped to save enough to pay this court debt but, as a low-income worker, you often struggle to put food on the table for your family and keep the lights on. You’re now in a tough bind. If you rely on your car to get to work, run errands, take your children to the doctor, etc., you now have to choose between driving illegally or losing your job and becoming unable to care for your family. If you don’t rely on a car to get to work, it may be difficult to find and maintain the rare job that will hire you without a valid license. Either way, the result of this punitive debt collection practice is that you’ll likely struggle to make ends meet and find it even more difficult to pay the original debt that caused this problem. Read more →

Dec 07

2017

Kirkland Associate Gains Litigation Skills Helping Father Reunite With His Sons

If you are looking for a pro bono opportunity to develop your litigation skills and appear in court, consider representing a parent in a child custody case. Just ask Kirkland & Ellis associate Nickolas Barber who, over the course of a year representing the father of two young sons, appeared in court seven times, including for two evidentiary hearings and a full day trial.

Justin Hill* came to Legal Aid’s Southeast D.C. office at the Big Chair in early January 2016 asking for help in reuniting with his sons, then ages six and nine. That day Mr. Hill met with volunteer attorney Nick Barber. Through a unique partnership with Legal Aid, Nick and his Kirkland & Ellis colleagues conduct initial intake interviews with prospective Legal Aid clients two days a week at the Big Chair. Each year Kirkland attorneys also provide extended pro bono representation to several of the clients with whom they initially meet. Read more →

Nov 22

2017

Legal Aid Gives Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Legal Aid!

Last November, Legal Aid pledged to continue our pursuit of justice for our most vulnerable neighbors in D.C. with renewed vigor and determination. We have indeed made great strides towards making justice real for our clients, but we certainly did not do it alone.

Over the past year, you – our donors, volunteers, and partners – have made a deep impact on our client community. Your support in the courtroom, on legislative issues, and in our fundraising campaigns matters. You have paved the way for us to finish this year with even more determination than when we started it. Read more →