Making Justice RealThe Official Blog of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia
The Legal Aid Society Then and Now
Jeannette Henderson and Patricia Roulhac are valued administrative staff whom have both worked for the Legal Aid Society for over 20 years – indeed our longest tenured employees! Jeannette and Pat were asked to provide a brief glimpse of some of the changes they have seen at Legal Aid over the years. As you can see from their post below, they remain strong in their commitment to Legal Aid and the services we provide.
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The Legal Aid Society, 21 years ago, was housed at 666 11th Street, NW with a Family Branch located in the Superior Court. Since then the Society has evolved into a very sophisticated organization. We have always had committed lawyers working for the organization, but now we have an even stronger presence in the community. We have never seen so many young lawyers more committed to a cause than the ones who have worked for Legal Aid over the years. Our lawyers continue to truly make a difference in the lives of our clients.
Being the two longest tenured employees at Legal Aid, we can remember using rotary phones and electric typewriters. Where have the years gone? Seems like only yesterday. When we started there was a paid staff of twelve, of which six attorneys represented our clients in court with the help of three volunteer attorneys. Now, today, we are located at 1331 H Street, NW and have grown to a staff of thirty-nine. Some of our staff is bilingual so they are in an even better position to overcome language barriers. Legal Aid has come a long way since 1989 and when we only had two attorneys who spoke Spanish. Today, we provide services in the areas of Family, Housing, Public Benefits, Consumer and Appellate Advocacy and all areas have at least one Spanish speaking attorney and/or staff member.
With the support of law firms and individuals through the community we have seen the Legal Aid program expand. While law firms provide much needed monetary support, several firms also provide one thing money can’t give and that’s the valuable time of a young associate. A firm sends a young associate to work at Legal Aid for a six month rotation, which really makes huge difference in the lives of our clients.
Legal Aid is now an organization that consists of an Executive Director, Legal Director, Chief Operations Officer, Director of Development, Development Associate, Director of Pro Bono and Intake Programs, a Family Law Unit, a Housing Unit, a Public Benefits Unit, Loaned Associates, Volunteer Attorneys, Appellate Fellow, Administrative Assistant, Legal Secretary, Legal Administrative Assistant, Intake Coordinator/Investigator and Interns. We are proud to say that the various titles really only mean one thing, it doesn’t matter what your position is at Legal Aid, we all come together as one to make a real difference in someone’s life who would otherwise fall by the wayside.