Written by Jodi Feldman

Oct 27


Solving Real-World Problems: Jahnisa Tate Loadholt

Jahnisa Tate Loadholt jumped right into pro bono work almost immediately after moving to D.C. from Atlanta about two years ago.  She had just finished up a clerkship on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and had joined Alston & Bird as a litigation associate.  Once she started at the firm, it didn’t take her long to connect with Jon Fee, Senior Counsel and Chair of Alston & Bird’s Washington, D.C. Pro Bono Committee, and a member of Legal Aid’s Board of Trustees. Read more →

Oct 26


Ready For a Challenge: Henry Smith

Henry Smith began his legal career as a Law Firm Fellow working at Legal Aid for approximately one year before joining Steptoe & Johnson in the fall of 2010.  During his time at Legal Aid, Henry worked with Legal Aid’s Public Benefits Unit helping clients secure and maintain critical safety net benefits to which they are entitled.

It was clear from Henry’s very first days at Legal Aid that he was wholly committed to serving Legal Aid’s mission and client community.  He exhibited a degree of skill, patience and perseverance working with clients that others only develop with years of experience. And in the intervening years, Henry’s commitment has not wavered. Read more →

Oct 25


A Decade of Pro Bono Service: Stefanie Doebler

This Fall marks the 10th anniversary of Legal Aid’s Medicare Part D Initiative.  And Stefanie Doebler, Of Counsel at Covington & Burling, has been involved since day one. In partnership with Whitman-Walker Health and scores of pro bono attorneys, including Stefanie, Legal Aid helps hundreds of senior and disabled D.C. residents navigate the Medicare prescription drug benefit program each year, saving them money and ensuring continuity in accessing their prescription medications.  Read more →

Oct 17


D.C. Pro Bono Week Coming Soon – October 24-29!

October 24-29 is D.C. Pro Bono Week!  Sponsored by the Washington Council of Lawyers, Pro Bono Week provides an opportunity to celebrate pro bono contributions and expand our commitment as a community to pro bono service. Our local Pro Bono Week coincides with the American Bar Association’s annual National Pro Bono Celebration.

This year’s Pro Bono Week features a great lineup of trainings, clinics, court tours, social events, and more.  Click here for a full list of events and ways you can get involved. We hope many of you will take this opportunity to celebrate and learn more about the D.C. legal community’s unparalleled commitment to pro bono service. Read more →

Jun 17


Memorial Service Held for PBI Founder Esther F. Lardent

A memorial service for Esther F. Lardent, founder and first president and CEO of the Pro Bono Institute, was held on June 6, at the Sixth and I History Synagogue in Washington, DC.  Esther passed away on April 4 after an extended illness.  Her 45-year legal career was dedicated to fighting for civil rights and equal protection under the law, during which she directed pioneering and creative approaches to tackling serious access to justice issues.

Learn more about Esther’s extraordinary life and career in this moving memorial program book and slideshow.

May 23


Legal Aid Hosts Housing Conditions Pro Bono Training

Last Wednesday, attorneys from seven law firms and government agencies participated in an informal training at Legal Aid on handling cases before the D.C. Superior Court’s Housing Conditions Calendar.  The training was led by Staff Attorney Evan Henley who joined Legal Aid in September 2013 as a Skadden Fellow.  Evan’s fellowship project focused on representing tenants in housing conditions cases and related advocacy.

The D.C. Superior Court created the Housing Conditions Calendar (HCC) in April 2010 after years-long advocacy led by Legal Aid and others.  The docket is dedicated solely to cases brought by tenants seeking repairs to their rental units.  Designed to complement to the Court’s Landlord and Tenant Branch, which handles eviction proceedings, the HCC provides a forum for the speedy, inexpensive resolution of cases involving landlords’ failure to maintain units in decent and sanitary condition as required by D.C. law.  Legal Aid and other advocates had been working closely with the Court to create this calendar. Read more →

May 19


Miller & Chevalier Hosts Graduation Party for Client

It isn’t every day that a law firm hosts a graduation party for their client, but that is exactly what Miller & Chevalier did for Marie Walker* — a single mother with four young children who works as an aid in a nursing home.

Last year, Legal Aid reached out to Miller & Chevalier requesting help with a new pro bono project to protect persons like Ms. Walker from abusive transfers of their rights to structured settlement annuity payments in exchange for immediate cash.  Personal injury settlements are sometimes structured so that the injured party will receive monthly or periodic lump-sum payments over time.  Often enticed by television advertising or direct solicitations, low-income persons holding such annuities may seek to transfer rights to all or part of the annuity in return for immediate cash. Read more →

Apr 04


Legal Aid Mourns Passing of PBI Founder Esther Lardent

Legal Aid was saddened to learn today of the passing of Pro Bono Institute founder Esther F. Lardent. Established by Esther in 1996, the Pro Bono Institute (PBI) is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization mandated to explore and identify new approaches to and resources for the provision of legal services to the poor, disadvantaged, and other individuals or groups unable to secure legal assistance to address critical problems.

Under Esther’s visionary leadership, PBI emerged as a leading voice in the cause of equal access to justice and an important agent in the support and enhancement of pro bono legal services. Today, PBI works with hundreds of major law firms, in-house corporate legal departments, and public interest organizations in the U.S. and around the world to continually expand, improve, and enrich pro bono service.

Our thoughts are with Esther’s family, friends, and the many colleagues she inspired through her extraordinary work on behalf of access to justice.

Mar 23


Covington Pro Bono Attorney and Client Testify before City Council

In the summer of 2014, a team of attorneys including Covington & Burling Associate Terra White Fulham agreed to represent pro bono the Taylor Towers Tenant Association in a matter that dates back to 2007, when the tenants’ landlord filed a petition with the D.C. government seeking permission to increase the tenants’ rent by 29 percent. The case has languished for years – first at the Rental Housing Commission (RHC) and now at the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

Earlier this month, at Legal Aid’s suggestion, Ms. Fulham and Tillman Peck, president of the tenant association, testified at the D.C. Council’s Performance Oversight Hearing for DHCD and the RHC. In their testimony, Ms. Fulham and Mr. Peck described the association’s nine-year litigation before the two housing agencies that continues to this day. The Covington team has been stymied in moving the case forward due to, in Ms. Fulham’s words, “significant delay and inaction” by both agencies. Mr. Peck recommended that the Council work to speed the agency process and prevent future cases from dragging out this way, without any resolution for the landlord or the tenants.

Jan 07


Registration Open for 2015 Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll

Did you provide 50 hours or more of pro bono service in 2015? 100 hours or more? If so, the DC Courts want to recognize your contribution!

The D.C. Court of Appeals and the D.C. Superior Court, in conjunction with the D.C. Access to Justice Commission and the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, are calling for applications for the fifth annual Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll, which recognizes attorneys who have provided 50 hours or more of pro bono service during the calendar year. Attorneys providing 100 hours or more of pro bono service will be recognized on the “High Honor Roll.” Participating attorneys are recognized on the D.C. Courts’ website and elsewhere. Read more →