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Nov 16

2020

Legal Aid Receives Record $750,000 Donation from Amazon to Expand COVID-19 Response

Amazon has donated $750,000 to immediately help the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia support the surge of families and individuals facing urgent legal needs amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Funding will help Legal Aid hire new legal staff to provide legal assistance for scores more DC residents facing legal problems related to the pandemic, including eviction, foreclosure, debt, unemployment, and more.

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Nov 12

2020

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 →

Oct 28

2020

Announcing a New Social Justice Fund & Award Benefitting Legal Aid

We are excited to announce that Mark Poerio, Davis & Harman, Ifrah Law, and The Wagner Law Group have joined together to create the Social Justice Fund & Award, benefitting Legal Aid!

This award will highlight an individual or organization that has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to advancing social justice, while also supporting Legal Aid’s mission of making justice real, in individual and systemic ways, across DC.

Mark Poerio was inspired to create the Fund & Award after winning the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel Simplification Award in September.

“I wanted my award to have a similar meaning….in some ways to ‘pay forward’ what I won,” Mark told us. “Legal Aid is poised to help the most vulnerable in our area, both through services and advocacy. I hope many hear the word and step forward to help too.” Read more →

Oct 27

2020

Pro Bono Goes Local Event Kicks Off DC Pro Bono Week

This year’s Pro Bono Goes Local kickoff celebration marking the start of DC Pro Bono Week was held on Monday, October 26. The event is an opportunity to gather the legal community together to celebrate pro bono service and emphasize the importance of directing that service locally to help District residents in need of representation in our local courts. DC Pro Bono Week is organized each year by the Washington Council of Lawyers (WCL) and a committee of pro bono professionals representing legal services organizations, law firms, and law schools from around the city.

This year’s Pro Bono Goes Local virtual program was moderated by WCL’s Executive Director Nancy Lopez. Chief Judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby of the D.C. Court of Appeals and Chief Judge Anita Josey-Herring of the D.C. Superior Court provided opening remarks where they extended their gratitude to those who have handled local pro cases and emphasized that now more than ever- due in part to the challenges that DC residents are experiencing as a result of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic- DC residents need pro bono attorneys. Read more →

Oct 22

2020

Social Security Administration Agrees To Return Up To $30 Million In Wrongly Confiscated Tax Refunds

Legal Aid announced a settlement with the Social Security Administration (SSA) this week that could help tens of thousands of Americans obtain forgiveness of approximately $30 million in debts allegedly owed to Social Security.

“Tens of thousands of people have waited more than five years for a resolution, so we are delighted to reach a comprehensive settlement in this matter that will hopefully provide some measure of relief for them, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Eric Angel, Executive Director of Legal Aid. Read more →

Oct 20

2020

DC SAFE to honor Trisha Monroe with the COVID-19 Hero Award

This week, Legal Aid’s Trisha Monroe, a Supervising Attorney in the Domestic Violence/Family Law Unit, will be honored by DC SAFE with the COVID-19 Hero Award, recognizing her “outstanding partnership, flexibility, and commitment to survivors during the pandemic.”

“I am humbled by this award, especially coming from our partners at DC SAFE, which does tremendous work on behalf of domestic violence survivors in DC,” Trisha said.

Since the start of the pandemic, Legal Aid’s Domestic Violence/Family Law Unit has responded to the increased needs of survivors in DC in a variety of ways, including by launching the Petition Assistance Project, which has helped hundreds of survivors (including 22 in a single day) file for Civil Protection Orders electronically. Read more →

Oct 20

2020

Legal Aid Prevails in Systemic Lawsuit Preserving SNAP Benefits for 700,000 Americans

On October 18, 2020, Judge Beryl Howell of the federal District Court of the District of Columbia vacated a U.S. Department of Agriculture rule that would have cut off access to SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps, for nearly 700,000 Americans, including more than 13,000 DC residents.

Working with our pro bono partners at Alston & Bird (pictured above: Legal Aid and Alston & Bird attorneys outside federal court on March 5 after oral arguments) Legal Aid represented Bread for the City and two individual clients, Geneva Tann and Damon Smith, in a complaint that was combined with a similar suit filed by nineteen states, the City of New York, and the District of Columbia. The challenged rule would have prevented the District of Columbia from waiving a SNAP provision that limited so-called “able-bodied adults without dependents,” (or adults without disabilities who live without children or other dependents) from receiving SNAP benefits for 33 of every 36 months unless they meet certain work requirements. Such waivers have been granted over the past 20 years in recognition of the longstanding challenges that low-income District residents face in obtaining steady employment. Read more →

Oct 19

2020

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Spotlighting Pets in the Cycle of Violence

Domestic Violence Awareness Month has been observed every October for over thirty years. This year is a little different as COVID-19 has made it more difficult for survivors to get to safety. Support for domestic violence survivors is more urgent now than ever before. In these unprecedented times, Legal Aid’s Domestic Violence and Family Law Unit continues to represent domestic violence and sexual assault survivors in civil protection order cases and other family law matters in D.C. We are proud to stand by survivors in our client community and around the globe.

This month, as the pandemic wages on and many survivors remain isolated with their abusers, Legal Aid has been reminded of the important role pets play in the cycle of domestic violence. One client reached out to us after a harrowing encounter in which her abusive partner turned his aggression toward her beloved dog, beating the dog multiple times simply because she left for work. Another client told us how her husband would threaten to kill her cat, holding her pet over the balcony until she would do as he demanded. Horrible acts like these show how abusers exploit the love survivors have for their pets to exert their control and perpetuate harm. Read more →

Oct 14

2020

DC Pro Bono Week 2020 Coming Soon!

DC Pro Bono Week 2020 is just around the corner, October 25-31. While the events will be held remotely this year to ensure everyone’s safety, that will not deter us from celebrating the impact pro bono attorneys have in our community and showcasing available opportunities. Several events and affiliated trainings are scheduled throughout October and November for attorneys who want to learn more about pro bono opportunities available throughout the city. Please help spread the word!

Below are just a few highlights that may be of particular interest to Legal Aid’s pro bono partners. We appreciate you spreading the word and look forward to having you join us at one or more of these events! Read more →

Oct 13

2020

Investigation Reveals Long-Standing “Sewer Service” Practice Resulting in Countless Evictions

For years, Legal Aid has heard from tenants that they never received notice of a pending eviction case, or that service was improper in some way. But because affidavits filed by process servers are entitled to a legal presumption of accuracy, tenants have found it difficult to convince a judge that an eviction case must be dismissed for improper service. A new, extensive investigation by DCist and SpotlightDC now has exposed just how widespread this problem is, a fundamental injustice at the core of D.C.’s eviction process. Read more →