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Apr 21

2022

The Connection Between Health and Wealth: Recent Report Highlights the Impact of Medical Debt on Black Families

A recent report from the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) examines the racial health and wealth gaps and highlights the impact of medical debt on Black families. The report provides a sobering explanation of how disparities in healthcare and medical debt are a result of underlying, pervasive racial inequality. Unfortunately, these issues and impacts are all too familiar to District residents and Legal Aid’s client community. Read more →

Mar 04

2022

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 16

2022

An Unemployment Victory for One Client Could Mean Fewer Hurdles for Many More Moving Forward

On February 3, 2022, the District Columbia Court of Appeals released its opinion in Young v. District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES), awarding unemployment benefits to Legal Aid client Ashley Young. The central issue in the case was whether DOES could deny back benefits to Ms. Young after she failed to respond to an email (which she never received) asking her to fill out a quality control questionnaire. Much later, when Ms. Young found out about the questionnaire, she filled it out and began to receive benefits going forward, but DOES refused to give her payments for the time before she filled out the questionnaire. Read more →

Feb 03

2022

ENROLLMENT IS OPEN FOR THE 2021 CAPITAL PRO BONO HONOR ROLL!

Did you provide at least 50 hours of pro bono service in 2021? If so, we encourage you to submit your information to be included on the Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll. Applications are due on Friday, February 25, 2022, so submit your application today!

Recognizing the vital role that private and government attorneys play in providing pro bono services to those who cannot afford counsel, the Chief Judges of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia have announced that applications are now being accepted for the 2021 Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll. Supported by the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center and the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, the Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll pays tribute to the thousands of D.C. Bar members and attorneys practicing under D.C. Court of Appeals Rule 49 who provide desperately needed free legal services to those living in poverty and/or to the disadvantaged small businesses and community-based non-profits that are critical to the economic well-being of our community. Read more →

Feb 01

2022

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

2021

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 →

Nov 10

2021

Beware of Fraudulent Medicare Calls

Each year, Legal Aid and its volunteers help more than one hundred people select a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan that will cover all of their prescriptions at an affordable cost, without restrictions. The open enrollment period takes place each year from October 15 through December 7. The value Legal Aid and its volunteer network contribute can make a critical difference in the lives of the clients we serve. In some cases, clients have saved thousands of dollars by switching plans when their current plan may not have continued to cover their medications in the following year. Having guidance while navigating this complex prescription drug program is important. Read more →

Oct 28

2021

Child Removal as an Abusive Mechanism

Threats such as “I’m going to get custody” or “I’ll get the children taken away from you” are a form of emotional abuse that our clients hear from abusive partners all too often. There are many reasons why a survivor may not report domestic violence or be able to leave an abusive relationship, and threats involving child removal make taking action even harder.

The child welfare system has a significant impact on children in the US. A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found “that, before their 18th birthday, more than one third of all US children (37.4%) are the subjects of investigated child maltreatment reports, and more than half of Black children (53.0%) are the subject of such investigations.” Read more →

Oct 26

2021

Spotlight–Survivor Anna Jones

This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we honor our clients like Anna Jones, who has bravely shared her own story and given us a somber reminder about the many parents and children who have yet to reach safety. Hear more from Anna here:

Oct 25

2021

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status—An Option for Some Immigrant Child Survivors

When I met Dalia, she was as quiet as the grave. She had good reason to be withdrawn and mistrustful, hiding even her eyes behind her hair. When Dalia was a few months old, her mother fled from domestic violence in El Salvador to the United States, leaving her daughter behind with a substance-abusing father. After years of being passed around to distracted relatives, Dalia’s father was shot and killed by the police when a drug deal went awry.

Dalia became a street child, sleeping in a shed and gathering scrap metal. One day her mother finally managed to gather together the money to have Dalia transported by smugglers on the dangerous journey through Mexico to the Texas border. Like most children arriving in the US without a parent, Dalia was placed in a detention center (or “foster”) facility funded by the Department of Health and Human Services for about a month before being released to live with her mom here in DC. And like every other immigrant and refugee, Dalia has no right to a public defender for her pending deportation case. Kids like Dalia, no matter how young, must navigate a hostile and complex immigration system, in English, with whatever resources their guardians can spare. Organizations like Legal Aid can only meet a fraction of the need for free and affordable services to fill the gap. Read more →