Earlier this week, Chinh Le, our Legal Director, authored a blog post about the release of an unprecedented and humbling report on the struggles of D.C. residents living in and on the cusp of poverty. Yesterday, the Washington Post ran an op-ed that he co-authored with Rochanda Hiligh-Thomas, the Director of Legal Services & Advocacy at Advocates for Justice in Education, in their capacities as the Co-Chairs of the D.C. Consortium of Legal Services Providers. In it, Rochanda and Chinh urge us to seize upon the momentum that this report is generating to influence the D.C. Council and the Mayor—as they engage in the budgeting process and determine which programs to support and expand, and which programs to contract or eliminate—to consider the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. Legal Aid intends to be a part of those conversations, and we invite you to join us. If any of us needed to be reminded of the formidable obstacles and challenges low-income individuals and families face every day, this report provides that reminder, and it does so through the voices of the individuals and families themselves. It is a call to action. We must answer it.
Legal Aid attorneys Meridel Bulle-Vu, Tianna Gibbs, and Ashley McDowell recently co-authored an article titled, “Developments in Family Law in the District of Columbia: Three Significant Legislative Changes for Child Support,” published in the Spring 2015 issue (Volume 18, Number 2) of the UDC Law Review. The article provides an overview of three critical changes to District law in the past ten years: 1) the enactment of a statute that requires criminal sentencing judges to notify obligors of their right to modify or suspend their child support orders during periods of incarceration; 2) the passage of a law requiring the District government to distribute the first $150 of child support collected each month to custodial parents who receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and 3) major revisions to the District’s Child Support Guideline, the statutory scheme governing how child support orders are calculated.
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Last month, Kirkland & Ellis featured its historic partnership with Legal Aid in a video the firm produced in recognition of National Pro Bono Week. The collaboration dates back to April 2013, when Legal Aid first opened the doors to a then-new intake site in Southwest DC, located at Friendship Baptist Church.
Legal Aid’s expansion into Southwest was made possible as a result of an extraordinary, multi-year donation that Legal Aid received from Kirkland, which allowed Legal Aid to reach low-income residents who may otherwise have had difficulty accessing legal services. In addition to providing financial support to Legal Aid, Kirkland attorneys and legal assistants staffed the site twice a week under Legal Aid’s management, providing advice and representation to clients needing legal assistance. Since the project first started, Kirkland volunteers have conducted hundreds of intakes and handled dozens of Legal Aid pro bono matters. Read more →
Legal Aid Development Director Hosts National Capital Philanthropy Day Event; Legal Aid Honors Mayer Brown’s Ken Klein and Jones Day
Wednesday, November 17th, was National Capital Philanthropy Day – a day dedicated to recognizing and honoring the many philanthropic individuals and organizations that, ultimately, make the non-profit sector’s work in and around Washington, D.C. possible. It was also the 50th anniversary of the D.C. Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP-DC), which made the night especially meaningful to members and donors alike. AFP-DC has been led by Legal Aid’s own Director of Development, Gregg Kelley, for the past year. Read more →
Yesterday, October 27, 2015, the D.C. Primary Care Association honored Legal Aid Supervising Attorney Jennifer Mezey with its “Champion of Change” Award. The head of Legal Aid’s Public Benefits Law Unit, Jennifer was recognized for her extraordinary leadership on health care access for low-income D.C. residents. Jennifer’s tireless advocacy on behalf of Legal Aid’s clients, combined with her extensive knowledge of local and federal benefits law, make her a true force to be reckoned with when it comes to ensuring that the District’s health programs work effectively for the people who need them most.
In addition to zealously representing her own clients, and providing leadership and support for the other attorneys in the public benefits unit, Jennifer has been active in organizing coalitions to advocate for systemic solutions to problems identified in individual health-related cases. In 2014, for example, she played a key role in the issuance of a joint report by Legal Aid and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute—which was later incorporated into March 2015 joint testimony to the D.C. Council—demonstrating that low-income D.C. residents continue to face significant barriers to health care coverage and access as a result of management failures at the District agencies tasked with implementing the Affordable Care Act. Read more →
Update (October 9, 2015): The CulinAire Cooking Competition was covered in Bisnow.
On October 1, the gastronome attorneys from Miller & Chevalier held on to their title, winning Legal Aid’s third-annual Generous Associates Campaign CulinAerie Cooking Competition, besting eight other competitors in a hard-fought battle at CulinAerie, a recreational cooking school in downtown DC. The event was graciously hosted and generously sponsored by CulinAerie co-founder Susan Holt, who was also the emcee of the evening, setting for the ground rules for the competition.
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It is with great pleasure that I share the news that Beth Mellen Harrison, co-leader of Legal Aid’s Housing Law Unit, has been recognized as one of D.C.’s Rising Stars by the National Law Journal. Beth is one of 40 “game-changing lawyers age 40 and under” from the private, public, and advocacy sectors in the District.
Beth is an outstanding public interest lawyer and leader in the poverty legal services community. This award is particularly timely as she recently helped launch the new Subsidized Housing Representation Project, a city-wide public interest collaboration between Legal Aid, Bread for the City, and the Legal Counsel for the Elderly to provide urgently needed legal assistance to low-income District residents at risk of losing subsidized housing. Read more →
After eight suspenseful weeks, the 2015 Generous Associates Campaign has concluded with another record-shattering result. This year’s campaign has raised $1,367,000, eclipsing last year’s total by more than $100,000!
Legal Aid is deeply grateful to all who helped make justice real this summer – most of all, to our Co-Chairs and Coordinators, who devoted a tremendous amount of time and energy to this effort. This year’s campaign was the most successful fundraiser – of any type – in Legal Aid’s 83-year history. Read more →
Legal Aid is grateful that it has once again received funding from the DC Bar Foundation to help support our general operations as well as our nationally-recognized Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project, which was established over a decade ago (with seed money from the Foundation) to provide an important new resource to our client population and the local legal services community. The project builds on the individual representation that is at the heart of our work, allowing us to handle appeals on matters that have the potential to set precedent that will positively impact large numbers of people living in poverty in the District. Read more →