Earlier this week, lawyers from across the District gathered at a reception hosted by Jones Day to honor 36 law firms that together contributed $3.6 million last year to local civil legal services through the D.C. Access to Justice Commission’s second annual Raising the Bar in D.C. Campaign. Judge David Tatel delivered an impassioned speech thanking the D.C. legal community and urging them to do even more. Legal Aid is grateful to all of the law firms recognized through this campaign for their contributions to improving access to justice in the District.
This week has been National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Organizations across the country are hosting events and supporting campaigns to raise awareness about sexual assault and the rights of victims of such violence.
In the District of Columbia, a victim of sexual assault is entitled to several rights. In addition to pursuing criminal charges through the police and the United States Attorneys’ Office, an individual can file for a Civil Protection Order (CPO) based on a single incident of sexual assault, even in the absence of any particular relationship with the assaulter. A sexual assault survivor can also receive safety planning and other legal and social support services through the various organizations and agencies represented at the Domestic Violence Intake Centers. Legal Aid, for instance, meets with survivors when they file for CPOs against their abusers/aggressors, and provides legal representation throughout the CPO case. In addition, Legal Aid connects survivors with various social service providers for counseling, housing, safety planning and other services. Sexual assault victims may also be entitled to critical services through the Crime Victims Compensation (CVC) Program. CVC can assist survivors with temporary emergency housing, relocation expenses, and the costs of replacing locks and enhancing security at survivors’ homes. Particularly for low-income survivors, these resources can mean the difference between remaining in and leaving an abusive situation. read more…
Though Collaboration with Law Firms, Pro Bono Attorneys Recoup $50,000 in Unemployment Benefits for Low-Wage Workers over Past Six Months
Six months ago, Legal Aid joined forces with Arnold & Porter and McKenna Long & Aldridge to serve even more low-wage workers who have been wrongfully denied unemployment benefits. Having been trained and mentored by Legal Aid attorneys, the pro bono attorneys involved in this project have zealously represented newly unemployed workers at their unemployment hearings, which are scheduled on an expedited calendar at the District’s Office of Administrative Hearings.
Since 2011, Arnold & Porter has provided generous support to Legal Aid through Equal Justice Works, allowing us to expand our public benefits practice to include unemployment insurance cases. Now, 18 months into the project, Legal Aid has represented more than 25 low-wage workers and has counseled over 100 others.
Last Thursday, over 550 lawyers, judges, government officials, and friends of Legal Aid attended our annual Servant of Justice Awards Dinner. We are delighted to announce that the event was a resounding success, raising over $880,000 – more, even, than what our 80th Anniversary dinner raised last year.
Philip W. Horton of Arnold & Porter LLP and Tangela S. Richter of Capital One served as the evening’s co-chairs. Board President Deanne Ottaviano of Arent Fox LLP kicked off the evening with a warm welcome, offering thanks to everyone who has ever contributed to Legal Aid for their generous support. In his remarks, Executive Director Eric Angel noted that as a result of this support, today, Legal Aid is larger than it has ever been, is helping more clients than ever, and – as the large swaths of the District struggle to emerge from the financial crisis – continues to provide critical civil legal services that are perhaps more relevant than ever. read more…
Tomorrow night, April 18, Legal Aid will recognize John Payton (posthumously) and Paul M. Smith with its highest honor, the Servant of Justice Award. Both honorees made the struggle for equal justice part of their personal and professional identities through their commitment to and concern for the individuals, communities, and causes for which they have fought. If you do not already have plans to do so, please consider joining us for the dinner at the JW Marriott.
The night will be special. Gay McDougall, John Payton’s widow, will be in South Africa at the time of the dinner but has prepared a videotaped acceptance. Elaine R. Jones will be accepting the award in person. The Honorable Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., will be presenting the Servant of Justice Award to Paul Smith. John Payton and Paul Smith are truly deserving of Legal Aid’s Servant of Justice Award. read more…
Legal Aid Opens New Site in Southwest D.C. at Friendship Baptist Church, Made Possible as a Result of a Large, Multi-Year Gift from Kirkland & Ellis LLP
This morning, Legal Aid opened the doors to its newest intake site, located at Friendship Baptist Church in Southwest DC (900 Delaware Avenue, SW). Going forward, the new SW office will maintain walk-in intake hours from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The opening of this new intake location was made possible as a result of an extraordinary, multi-year donation that Legal Aid received from the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. The firm has committed $125,000 per year for a minimum of five years, which will allow Legal Aid to expand its presence into Southwest, reaching low-income residents who may not otherwise have access to legal services. In addition to providing financial support to Legal Aid, Kirkland attorneys and legal assistants will staff the site under Legal Aid’s management, and provide advice and representation to clients needing legal assistance.
“Kirkland’s multi-year commitment to Legal Aid and this project are unprecedented in our more than 80 year history,” said Eric Angel, Legal Aid’s Executive Director. “This donation truly raises the bar for giving to legal services in DC. This new project will enable us to make justice real for hundreds upon hundreds of additional DC residents. We are delighted to have the opportunity to expand our presence into a new quadrant of the District.” read more…
Warren T. Allen, II, Nicole L. Grimm, & Luke A. Meisner, of Skadden to Receive Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence
This Thursday, April 18, Legal Aid will be hosting our 24th annual Servant of Justice Awards Dinner. That evening, Warren T. Allen II, Nicole L. Grimm, and Luke A. Meisner, of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, will be receiving the Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence. The Klepper Prize was created through the generosity of Martin and Arlene Klepper in order to recognize attorneys who have made a significant volunteer contribution to Legal Aid while still early in their career.
Mr. Allen, Ms. Grimm, and Mr. Meisner are being honored for their extraordinary contributions in implementing the “Impact Project,” designed to provide desperately needed pro bono legal assistance on a broad scale to help low-income children and families in the District. The Impact Project focuses Skadden’s resources on three areas of specific need: domestic violence, guardians ad litem for children, and housing. These three attorneys have generously taken the lead in implementing the domestic violence portion of the project in conjunction with Legal Aid, while under the expert guidance of Skadden partner Michele Roberts and recently retired Skadden partner Saul Pilchen. read more…
On April 19, 2013, Legal Aid Supervising Attorney Rosanne Avilés will be serving on the morning plenary panel entitled “Gideon at 50: Taking Stock,” at the 2013 District of Columbia Judicial and Bar Conference. Rosanne Avilés will be joined on the panel by James Sandman, President of the Legal Services Corporation; Camille Holmes Wood, Director of Leadership and Race Equity at the National Legal Aid & Defender Association; and Jonathan Rapping, President and Founder of Gideon’s Promise. Angela Davis, Professor of Law at American University Washington College of Law, will be moderating the panel. The panel will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Additional details about the conference can be found here. As noted in an earlier post, Jack Keeney, the Director of Legal Aid’s Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project will also serve as a speaker on an afternoon panel for which Legal Aid is a co-sponsor.
Last Tuesday morning, the judges from D.C.’s federal district and appellate courts honored 28 local law firms for their pro bono contributions at the 10th annual “40 at 50” Judicial Pro Bono Recognition breakfast. Held at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, the event honored firms where at least 40 percent of the lawyers performed a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono work last year. The majority of these firms are among Legal Aid’s strongest pro bono partners, together providing thousands of hours of pro bono representation each year to individuals and families living in poverty. Legal Aid congratulates all of these firms for their extraordinary contributions and is pleased that Executive Director Eric Angel, who serves on the D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, participated in the event in which our pro bono partners received this much-deserved public recognition.
Legal Aid is a co-sponsor of a District of Columbia Department of Human Services briefing next Wednesday, April 17, 2013. At the briefing, DHS Director David Berns will present the Department’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2014 and respond to questions and concerns. The briefing will provide the chance for Legal Aid and other community advocates to ask questions about funding for TANF, homeless services, and other DHS programs vital to our client community. We are grateful to the DC Fiscal Policy Institute and other co-sponsors for joining us in putting together this important event. The briefing will be held at DHS’s headquarters (64 New York Avenue, NE) from 11:00am to 1:00pm. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Kate Coventry at email@example.com.