Written by Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

Mar 04


Legal Aid Announces its First Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Legal Aid is excited to welcome Patrick Orciani as our first Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI). Patrick, who has many years of experience doing DEI work, will assist us in advancing our mission to ensure that DEI is part of the fabric of Legal Aid.

Prior to joining Legal Aid, Patrick worked for the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, where he also served as their Director of DEI. With almost twenty years of experience in the public and private sectors, thirteen of those years with consulting firm Guidehouse, Patrick has helped to create change within organizations by creating and implementing DEI best practices. Read more →

Feb 01


Remembering Volunteer Staff Attorney Jim Springer

Legal Aid was saddened to learn of the passing of James VanR. Springer, who died on January 26, 2022. Jim served as a Volunteer Staff Attorney at Legal Aid for eight years, helping countless DC residents and mentoring dozens of junior Legal Aid attorneys. In 2012, he was honored with Legal Aid’s Servant of Justice Award for his faithful dedication and remarkable achievement in ensuring that all people have equal and meaningful access to justice, joining the ranks of Vernon Jordan, Eric Holder, Janet Reno, Charles Horsky, and many others. Read more →

Nov 23


Remembering Legal Services and Pro Bono Leader Mark Herzog

Legal Aid was saddened to learn of the passing of Mark Herzog, who died on November 13, 2021, after a year-long illness. Mark was a highly respected legal services and pro bono leader in our community, known for his steadfast commitment to furthering access to justice and providing counsel to individuals, families, and communities who cannot afford to pay for legal representation.

Mark spent his entire career working in the legal services and pro bono communities in D.C. and New York City. He joined the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center in 1994 where he worked for nearly two decades, primarily in the role of associate director. Mark was a visionary leader who effectively balanced strategic, big picture thinking with pragmatism and tenacity. He was a driving force behind numerous D.C. Bar task forces and committees that led to improvements, great and small, in access to justice and the administration of justice for people experiencing poverty. Read more →

Jun 07


The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia Launches the 2021 Making Justice Real Campaign

On June 1, 2021, the Legal Aid Society of The District of Columbia (Legal Aid) launched its annual Making Justice Real Campaign to raise funds that cover the cost of providing free legal services to poverty-stricken individuals and families living in Washington, D.C.

The Making Justice Real Campaign brings together thousands of people to support the mission of the Legal Aid Society, the city’s oldest and largest civil legal services organizations. The goal: make justice “real,” in individual and systemic ways, for those who cannot afford legal services. Read more →

Apr 20


Legal Aid Statement on Conviction of Derek Chauvin

Following the brutal, senseless killing of George Floyd last year, we at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia unequivocally affirmed the obvious: that Black Lives Matter, and renewed our commitment to stand in solidarity with those speaking out, peacefully demonstrating, and demanding a country and a society that will treat every one of its residents with dignity and respect.

And today, while still feeling grief and outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death, we believe that justice and accountability have been rightfully served with a conviction for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer. Read more →

Apr 08


“40 at 50” Honorary Event Recognizes D.C. Pro Bono Leaders

Yesterday, the D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services held the first-ever virtual “40 at 50” Pro Bono Event. The event recognized DC law firms for outstanding leadership in pro bono service. It honored firms that had at least 40% of their lawyers contribute at least 50 pro bono hours in years 2019 and/or 2020. Read more →

Mar 26


Longtime Legal Aid Pro Bono Volunteer David Reiser Receives 2021 William J. Brennan Jr. Award

Last week, the D.C. Bar announced plans to honor David Reiser of Zuckerman Spaeder with the 2021 William J. Brennan Jr. AwardThis award, bestowed upon members of the D.C. Bar whoexhibit “excellence, commitment, and dedication in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, and the public interest,” is well deserved and reflects David’s substantial contributions to the pursuit of justice, equality, and the public good. Read more →

Mar 18


Stop AAPI Hate

We at Legal Aid are horrified by the tragic violence in Georgia on Tuesday evening that stole the lives of eight individuals—six of whom are of Asian descent, and seven of whom are women. We mourn their loss and recommit ourselves to work that honors them and the countless other victims of race and gender-based violence.

These senseless killings take place at a time when we are witnessing a surge of hate crimes against Asian Americans throughout the United States. According to a recent report by Stop AAPI Hate, Asian Americans have reported roughly 3,800 incidents of hate-related acts since the pandemic struck. But the Atlanta shooter also targeted women, and in particular, women associated with an industry vulnerable to terror and abuse. This is consistent with another deeply troubling pattern: In the past year, Asian American women—too often hypersexualized and objectified in our culture—have disproportionately experienced hate-related harassment, bullying, abuse, and violence, at a rate 2.3 times that of Asian American men. Read more →

Mar 09


Legal Aid Mourns the Passing of 2010 Servant of Justice Award Honoree Vernon E. Jordan Jr.

The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia mourns the loss of 2010 Servant of Justice Award Honoree Vernon E. Jordan Jr, who spent his career as a civil-rights leader, lawyer, and adviser to President Clinton. He held leadership positions in many different civil-rights organizations and was influential in pushing for diversity in the corporate world, including within the legal profession.

For more on Mr. Jordan’s remarkable life and career, we refer you to obituaries published in the Washington Post and the New York Times. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family. Read more →

Nov 12


DC Bar Foundation to Honor Beth Mellen with the Scoutt Prize

This week, Legal Aid’s Beth Mellen, a Supervising Attorney in the Housing Law Unit and the Director of Legal Aid’s Eviction Defense Project, will be honored by the DC Bar Foundation with the Scoutt Prize for her skills as “a fierce courtroom advocate, a compassionate client advisor, a dedicated mentor to younger lawyers, a skilled manager, and an accomplished leader of housing policy reform.”

During Beth’s fifteen years as a Legal Aid attorney, she has been a dedicated advocate for housing rights across the District. Her knowledge of local and federal housing law, combined with her advocacy skills, has preserved safe, affordable housing for hundreds of residents in DC.

“For years, Beth has been a fierce, thoughtful, effective advocate for tenants in the District of Columbia. This is an incredibly well-deserved recognition,” says Eric Angel, Executive Director of Legal Aid. Read more →