Making Justice Real

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

“Walk a Month in My Shoes” – A Poverty Simulation Experience for Pro Bono Attorneys Who Work with Low-Income Clients

Jodi Feldman, Director of Pro Bono and Intake

The Washington Council of Lawyers and several area law firms are sponsoring “Walk a Month in My Shoes,” a 3-hour interactive training program designed to help the Washington, DC legal community develop clearer insight into the hardships faced by low-income clients they represent.  All attorneys working in private practice, government settings, public interest organizations, or in-house legal departments who currently or may in the future work with low-income clients are invited to participate.

The Poverty Simulation will be held on Wednesday, October 24, from 9 a.m. to noon, at the law firm of Mayer Brown LLP, 1999 K Street, NW.  This is one of many area events being held during this year’s National Pro Bono Celebration Week, October 21-27, an initiative of the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service

Tiela Chalmers, a nationally recognized expert on access to justice issues, will lead the Poverty Simulation.  Participants will be divided into “families,” ranging in size.  Each “family” is assigned a different life scenario and experiences the life of that family for one-month, trying to work, access benefits, buy food, and maintain housing.  Following the role play, participants will discuss:

  • what it is like to try to make ends meet and to access services in a system that sometimes stigmatizes the poor;
  • how being poor impacts the way in which their clients experience the services they are providing and how we deliver legal services to this population;
  • why it costs more to be poor; and
  •  why low-income clients do not always follow up on instructions and next steps given to them by their lawyers or sometimes make decisions that their lawyers may not condone.

Participation in the Poverty Simulation is free!  Click here to register or for more information.

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