Written by Jodi Feldman

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 →

Dec 16


Beveridge & Diamond Helps Mother Living with Mold Secure Healthy Housing

Jessalee Landfried had been out of law school for less than a year and at her firm for only a few months when she sought out an opportunity to get courtroom experience. Fortunately, it was easy for Jessalee to get involved because her firm, Beveridge & Diamond, partners with Legal Aid to handle landlord and tenant cases.
Read more →

Nov 25


Hogan Lovells Ensures Clients Retain Home Health Care Services

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday, we’re happy to share news about a successful pro bono partnership for which Legal Aid – and our clients – are thankful. For over a year now, Hogan Lovells attorneys have been handling personal care aide (PCA) cases referred from Legal Aid and have achieved significant results for their clients.

It began few years prior, when we started seeing an increase in recipients of PCA services – Medicaid-funded home health care services for persons with disabilities who need help with basic, daily activities such as bathing, cooking, and, cleaning – contacting Legal Aid. They needed help because their service hours had been reduced or terminated by the Medicaid agency for the District.
Read more →

May 28


Legal Aid Applauds Capital Pro Bono Honorees

We are thrilled to see so many of Legal Aid’s pro bono volunteers among the attorneys recognized this week on the 2014 Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll!

D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Eric T. Washington and D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield published the annual Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll, commending D.C. Bar members and other members of the legal community for their pro bono service.

More than 4,200 attorneys who contributed 50 hours or more to providing pro bono legal services are recognized on the Honor Roll. More than 2,500 of the listed attorneys contributed over 100 hours of service and were included on the High Honor Roll. Read more →

Mar 31


Kirkland Team Recovers Wrongfully Garnished Wages

Through a unique partnership previously highlighted in this blog, Kirkland & Ellis LLP has made a multi-year commitment to Legal Aid to support an intake site in Southwest D.C. at Friendship Baptist Church. In addition to providing financial support to Legal Aid, Kirkland attorneys and legal assistants staff the site under Legal Aid’s supervision and provide advice and representation to clients seeking legal help. Since launching this extraordinary collaboration in April 2013, Kirkland volunteers have conducted hundreds of intake interviews and provided comprehensive representation to dozens of clients spanning a variety of practice areas.

Every case that Kirkland attorneys handle is significant for the clients involved. But, one recent case illustrates how a lawyer can make all the difference in the world for a client who has the law and the facts on his side but doesn’t know where to begin to seek justice. Read more →