Written by Chinh Le

Apr 24


Donald P. Salzman to Receive Servant of Justice Award on April 29th

On Tuesday, April 29, Legal Aid will be honoring two individuals with its highest honor – the Servant of Justice Award. Yesterday, we wrote about one of the honorees, Barbara McDowell, whom we will be honoring posthumously. Today, we will focus on the other Servant of Justice Honoree, Donald P. Salzman of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Don’s award will be presented by his Skadden colleague, Michele Roberts. Read more →

Feb 11


Legal Aid Testifies on “Ban the Box” Bill, Stresses Need for Housing Protections

Yesterday, I testified on behalf of Legal Aid at a hearing on D.C. Council Bill 20-462, the “Fair Criminal Record Screening Act of 2014.” Legal Aid agrees with and strongly supports the Bill’s goal—to remove barriers to gainful employment of formerly incarcerated individuals. It is a step in the right direction. But we also urged the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, which held the hearing, to amend and significantly strengthen the Bill in many of the ways offered by our sister organizations, other advocates, and community members who testified yesterday.

Legal Aid focused its comments in particular on the need to extend similar protections for individuals with arrest or conviction records in the housing context. Specifically, we requested that the Committee consider including provisions that would limit the ability of housing providers to inquire about and consider a prospective tenant’s criminal background, except where doing so is expressly required or permitted by law. Read more →

Oct 15


Legal Aid in the National Law Journal, Blog of the Legal Times Last Week

Legal Aid attorneys were quoted in two different articles related to D.C. poverty law last week.

The first was a piece in the National Law Journal discussing a D.C. Court of Appeals decision from earlier this summer in a contested adoption case in which Legal Aid submitted an influential amicus brief. In that case, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s judgment granting custody of two children to their foster family. The foster family, with whom the children had been living during the pendency of the custody litigation, were awarded custody over the children’s aunt, whose adoption request was supported by the biological parents. The case was remanded for further proceedings with instructions for the trial court to give “weighty consideration” to the biological parents’ preferred caregiver. Read more →

Oct 23


Upcoming Events Featuring Legal Aid’s Jodi Feldman

Jodi Feldman, Director of Pro Bono and Intake

Jodi Feldman, the Director of Legal Aid’s Pro Bono and Intake Programs, will be making public appearances at two upcoming events.

First, as a part of Pro Bono Week, Jodi will be participating on a panel discussing the current approaches to providing free and reduced-cost legal services to be held on Thursday, October 25. The discussion will consider mandatory pro bono programs in law schools, the New York pro bono bar requirements, and new and innovative approaches to providing legal services. The event, held at American University Washington College of Law and sponsored by the Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law and the Law School’s Office of Public Interest, is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Second, on Wednesday, November 14, Jodi will be serving as one of two facilitators discussing “Best Practices in Pro Bono: Building Effective Pro Bono Relationships,” at an event sponsored by the Washington Council of Lawyers and hosted by Fried, Frank, Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP (801 17th Street, NW). This panel, focused on “Getting Started,” is the first in a series of events aimed at improving and expanding pro bono legal opportunities in the District. This event is also free and open to the public, and you can register for it here.

Sep 28


New video focuses on the importance of loan repayment to DC poverty lawyers

Chinh Le, Legal Director

On September 27, 2012, the D.C. Bar Foundation premiered its first video, “We Invest in Justice.”  The video, which includes, among others, Legal Aid Executive Director Eric Angel and Housing Supervising Attorney Beth Harrison, makes a compelling case about the importance of poverty lawyers and the critical role that the D.C. Bar Foundation and D.C.’s loan repayment program plays in the delivery of legal services.  Click here to read more and watch the video.



Jul 23


Legal Aid to Participate in July 26 Panel about Public Interest Lawyering “East of the River”

Chinh Le, Legal Director

Tianna Terry, Staff Attorney

Legal Aid staff attorney Tianna Terry will be serving on the panel of a brown bag lunch event entitled, “Practicing Public Interest Law East of the Anacostia River,” to be held on Thursday, July 26, 2012, from noon to 1:30pm. The panel – hosted by the East of the River Lawyers and open to all interns, law students, and interested pro bono/public interest attorneys – is a “lunch-and-learn” event that will feature attorneys from several different legal services providers serving the residents of the diverse and vibrant neighborhoods East of the Anacostia River.

The other panelists will be: Marc Borbely from Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP); Elizabeth Kaplan from Whitman-Walker Health; Renee Murphy from Children’s Law Center; Carolyn Rand from Our Place DC; and Kate Sauser from Covington & Burling LLP (a loaned associate at NLSP). Moderating the panel will be Erin Leveton from Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities. Imoni Washington of the D.C. Bar Foundation (DCBF) will also be on hand to discuss the Loan Repayment Assistance Program for poverty lawyers working in the District and the recent grants the DCBF has made to legal services providers serving residents East of the Anacostia River.

The event will be held at Neighborhood Legal Services Program, 3101 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue S.E.  NLSP is on the 3rd floor of the Washington Gas Building. NLSP is accessible by Metro (Green Line to Anacostia or Congress Heights stations) or MetroBus (A2, A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, A42, A46, A48, W4). On-street parking is also available. To register, please contact Heather Hodges at  or 202.269.5100.

May 10


Trisha Monroe Honored with “Rising Star Award” from GWAC

Chinh Le, Legal Director

Last night, at a Networking Reception at the law firm of Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Legal Aid Supervising Attorney Trisha Monroe was honored as a “Rising Star” in the non-profit sector by the Greater Washington Area Chapter (GWAC), Women Lawyers Division of the National Bar Association. Trisha was one of several attorneys recognized at the event for having distinguished themselves in their careers and for making a mark in the legal community.

Legal Aid Supervising Attorney Trisha Monroe (3rd from left) with other GWAC honorees.

A dedicated and passionate advocate on behalf of domestic violence survivors, Trisha first joined Legal Aid in 2006 as a staff attorney in our Family Law/Domestic Violence Unit. Over the past six years, she has represented or provided advice to literally hundreds of survivors of domestic violence, and their families. Trisha has also served as a mentor to dozens of other young DV and family law advocates, both within Legal Aid and beyond. Before coming to Legal Aid, she worked at the Women’s Law Center of Maryland in its Protection Order Advocacy and Representation Project.

Another Legal Aid attorney will be honored tonight. As we previously noted, Jack Keeney, Jr., the Director of Legal Aid’s nationally recognized Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project, will be receiving the Justice Potter Stewart Award from the Council on Court Excellence at its annual dinner this evening, to be held at the Organization of American States.

Please join us in congratulating both Trisha and Jack!

Apr 25


Susan M. Hoffman to Receive Legal Aid’s Servant of Justice Award

Chinh Le, Legal Director

Tomorrow, April 26, Susan M. Hoffman of Crowell & Moring LLP will receive Legal Aid’s Servant of Justice Award. As Crowell & Moring’s Public Service Partner, Susie leads the firm’s diverse pro bono practice which ranges from representation of the homeless, elderly individuals, and domestic violence victims to civil rights impact and appellate litigation. Susie was the first full-time Public Service Counsel at a major law firm in the D.C. area, joining Crowell & Moring in that capacity in 1988, and in 2000 becoming the first pro bono professional to be promoted to partner. Susie also serves as President of the C&M Foundation, a separate nonprofit organization that provides grants to organizations focusing on at-risk youth. 

Susie Hoffman, Crowell & Moring LLP

Susie began her career as a law clerk to the late U.S. District Judge Harold H. Greene and as a litigator at Hogan & Hartson, working on a variety of pro bono matters. She has represented and supervised representation by other attorneys in her firm in more than 80 domestic violence, adoption, child abuse and neglect, and child custody cases, and has crafted appellate briefs on domestic violence issues. Susie participated in the first case involving a domestic violence statute to reach the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1990, she mobilized a group of practitioners to design the first D.C. Bar Child Custody training for attorneys representing low income clients, a course still presented annually. 

Susie volunteered from 1981-1988 with My Sister’s Place and chaired the shelter’s Board of Directors. She is currently in her fifth year as Co-Chair of the D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, chairs the Archdiocesan Legal Network Advisory Council, is on the Executive Committee of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and serves on the Boards of the D.C. Bar Foundation, the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project, the Washington Council of Lawyers, Friends of Superior Court, and the Center for Dispute Resolution. Her past Bar involvement includes two elected terms on the D.C. Bar Board of Governors and Board President of the Foundation of the Bar Association of D.C. 

For her work, Susie has received much recognition including the George Washington Law School Belva Lockwood Award for distinction as a role model for female attorneys (1993), Whitman-Walker Clinic’s Outstanding Volunteer Mentor (1997), and the John Carroll Society Pro Bono Legal Services Award (2000, 2004). In 2008, Legal Times named Ms. Hoffman as one of the “90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 Years” for her role as “pro bono trailblazer.” 

Please consider joining us for our Servant of Justice Awards Dinner tomorrow at 6.30 pm, at the JW Marriott Hotel. Attorney General Eric Holder will be the keynote speaker. As we noted earlier this week, in addition to Susie Hoffman, we will also be honoring James vanR. Springer with the Servant of Justice Award, and Jonathan G. Lin with the Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence.

Apr 24


James vanR. Springer to Receive Legal Aid’s Servant of Justice Award

Chinh Le, Legal Director

This Thursday, April 26, Legal Aid will recognize James vanR. Springer with its highest honor, the Servant of Justice Award. Since 2005, Jim has served as a volunteer staff attorney at Legal Aid, representing clients on a wide variety of public benefits and other matters, with a focus on helping low-income D.C. residents obtain safety net benefits and critical health care services. He joined Legal Aid’s staff following his retirement from the law firm of Dickstein Shapiro LLP, where he was a prominent partner in the firm’s general litigation practice for more than three decades.

Jim Springer, Volunteer Staff Attorney

Jim attended Harvard College and received his LL.B., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where he served as President of the Harvard Law Review. He began his legal career in 1961 as a law clerk to Chief Judge J. Edward Lumbard on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit before joining Covington & Burling LLP. In 1967, Jim entered government service as Assistant Legal Adviser for Economic Affairs at the United States Department of State before becoming a Deputy Solicitor General at the United States Department of Justice in 1968. 

Over the next four years, Jim presented ten oral arguments in the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1972, he joined the law firm now known as Dickstein Shapiro LLP as a partner. At Dickstein, Jim was a prominent litigator and antitrust lawyer with particular emphasis on appellate practice. Shortly after his retirement in 2004, Jim offered his services to Legal Aid. 

Although his experience and expertise was in complex and appellate litigation, Jim simply asked us where his services were needed most. When we told him that our greatest need was in initial applicant interviews and public benefits, he offered to join Legal Aid as a volunteer public benefits staff attorney. Jim has since become very much part of the Legal Aid family, helping to set priorities, participating in staff meetings, and drawing on a distinguished legal career to provide expert advice and guidance to more junior Legal Aid attorneys. Through his time at Legal Aid, Jim has helped countless numbers of low-income people navigate the bureaucracy of the Social Security Administration and ensured that people who are elderly or live with disabilities are in the right Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. In fact, Jim has taken on a leadership role in Legal Aid’s Medicare Part D work by supervising pro bono and staff attorneys at clinics that Legal Aid runs throughout the city to reach as many clients as possible.

In 2007, for his extraordinary work at Legal Aid, Jim was named Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year by the District of Columbia Bar. This year, we are proud to recognize Jim’s tremendous contributions with the Servant of Justice Award. 

Please consider joining us for our Servant of Justice Awards Dinner, this Thursday at 6.30 pm, at the JW Marriott Hotel. Attorney General Eric Holder will be the keynote speaker. In addition to Jim Springer, we will also be honoring Susan M. Hoffman with the Servant of Justice Award, and as we mentioned yesterday, Jonathan G. Lin will receive the Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence. A blog entry on Susie will run tomorrow.

Apr 23


Jonathan G. Lin to receive Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence

Chinh Le, Legal Director

 This Thursday, April 26, Legal Aid will be celebrating its 80th anniversary at our 23rd annual Servant of Justice Awards Dinner. That evening, Jonathan G. Lin, an associate in the litigation department at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett 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 an attorney early in her or his career who has made a significant volunteer contribution to Legal Aid. 

Jonathan G. Lin

Throughout his career, Jonathan has maintained an active pro bono practice, integrating pro bono into his legal career. Jonathan’s pro bono relationship with Legal Aid began in 2009 when Simpson Thacher took on several landlord and tenant matters from Legal Aid. While a number of the firm’s DC-based attorneys have worked on cases referred from Legal Aid over the past three years (and could justly be recognized for their work), Jonathan has emerged as a leader on this project. He has represented several clients in housing cases referred by Legal Aid. He has also been a mentor to other attorneys in the office working on matters referred from Legal Aid, ensuring that, with each case, the team is pursuing the right angles and getting good results for their clients. He also has found ways to engage new associates and summer associates in the pro bono matters referred from Legal Aid.

Most recently, Mr. Lin obtained an injunction, fines, and significant damages on behalf of a pro bono housing client after nearly two years of proceedings in the District of Columbia Superior Court. 

Please consider joining us for our Servant of Justice Awards Dinner, this Thursday at 6.30 pm, at the JW Marriott Hotel.  Attorney General Eric Holder will be the keynote speaker.  In addition to Jonathan Lin, we will also be honoring James vanR. Springer and Susan M. Hoffmann with Legal Aid’s highest honor, the Servant of Justice Award. Blog entries on Jim and Susie to follow over the next two days.