The DC Bar Foundation Urges Mayor Bowser and the DC Council to Fully Fund Legal Aid as part of the District’s COVID-19 Recovery

[District of Columbia, May6, 2020] –The DC Bar Foundation is urging Mayor Bowser and the DC Council to approve the DC Access to Justice Commission’s FY21 budget request of $19 million as part of the District’s COVID-19 Recovery efforts.

“Legal aid services have become essential during COVID-19, and will be needed even more while the District recovers. We are seeing a spike in the demand for legal services in all areas, from people who never thought they would need legal aid,” said Kirra Jarratt, the Bar Foundation’s CEO. “The District cannot afford to underfund legal aid, as all residents should have access to legal helpand services.”As unemployment continues to soar, and the longer shelter-in-place orders are in effect,residents are looking to the legal aid network to help them access affordable housing, protect wages and jobs, stabilize credit, help children and families get healthy, guard against domestic abuse, and protect District elders.

Mayor Bowser is expected to unveil the District’s FY21 budget on May 12th. The DC Access to Justice Commission says an investment in the civil legal aid network is critical to the District’s recovery. The aftermath of COVID-19 will increase the need for civil legal aid. Any cuts in funding will have a devastating impact on District residents who will need help. District workers will face unprecedented challenges and will need help navigating the unemployment compensation system and securing available benefits and protections –many for the first time in their lives.

The legal aid network has swiftly adapted to the COVID-19 environment by establishing virtual intake processes toensure the needs of the community are being met. Court-based services like resource and self-help centers were quickly converted to accessible phone lines. Walk-in clinics have been converted to virtual clinics offering one-on-one advice to District workers.

Legal aid attorneys are on the front-lines of assisting clients with finding resources to help with everyday needs such as free groceries, mental health services, and other critical items to help them cope through COVID-19.

Fully funding the Access to Justice Initiative is essential to the recovery of the District in the wake of COVID-19.

About the DC Bar Foundation: We work hand-in-hand with DC’s legal aid community to understand the legal issues facing DC’s poorest residents and how to solve these issues so that every individual, regardless of income, has access to justice. We invest in DC’s proven and emerging legal aid organizations that tackle these issues head-on using innovative means, such as court-based projects and medical-legal partnerships.

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BETH MELLEN HARRISON OF LEGAL AID SOCIETY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA TO RECEIVE 2020 SCOUTT PRIZE

[District of Columbia, May 5, 2020] – The District of Columbia Bar Foundation has selected Beth Mellen Harrison as the recipient of the 2020 Jerrold Scoutt Prize. Ms. Harrison is one of three supervising attorneys in the Housing Law Unit at Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, and also serves as Director for the organization’s Eviction Defense Project.

The Scoutt Prize is awarded annually to an attorney who has worked for a significant portion of his or her career at a nonprofit organization providing direct, hands-on legal services to poor or disadvantaged persons in the District of Columbia, has demonstrated compassionate concern for his or her clients, and has exhibited a high degree of skill on their behalf.

Ms. Harrison has been representing low-income tenants in the District for 15 years and currently manages Legal Aid’s Eviction Defense Project. She has been a lead architect for the Housing Right to Counsel project, which seeks to increase the number of subsidized housing tenants represented in eviction cases by guaranteeing representation, using a network of legal services and pro bono attorneys. She has tirelessly pursued this project with other partner organizations, analyzing project data exploring how to reach more of the clients in need, and advocating for a dramatic expansion of local funding for eviction defense legal services. Ms. Harrison also regularly advocates on behalf of the city’s most vulnerable residents on issues surrounding rent control, housing affordability, housing conditions, and greater systemic problems with District agencies and legislators, and her policy advocacy includes work on important legislation at the DC Council.

Seth A. Rosenthal, partner at Venable LLP and chair of the DC Bar Foundation’s Scoutt Prize Committee says of Beth: “For over 15 years, Beth Harrison has been a force of nature for housing rights for the people of the District of Columbia—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. She is a richly deserving recipient of this year’s Scoutt Prize, and it is the selection committee’s privilege to recognize her.”

Ms. Harrison began her career in 2003 as a law clerk for Judge Catherine C. Blake of the US District Court, after which she was named a Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr. Appellate Advocacy Fellow for the Public Justice Center’s Appellate Advocacy Project in Baltimore, MD, working on cases involving civil rights and poverty law. Since 2005, Ms. Harrison has dedicated her talents to the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, where she has since served as a staff, senior, and supervising attorney. Ms. Harrison has a B.A. from Wellesley College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

The Jerrold Scoutt Prize was endowed by the Washington, DC firm of Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger, and is named in honor of Jerrold Scoutt, Jr., a founding partner of the firm, in recognition of Mr. Scoutt’s and the firm’s long-term support of legal services. In 2019, Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger merged with Kaplan, Massamillo & Andrews and is now KMA Zuckert LLC. The DC Bar Foundation hopes to present the 2020 Jerrold Scoutt Prize during its 2020 Fall Reception.

About the DC Bar Foundation: For DC residents in poverty, we make strategic investments to strengthen and expand our civil legal aid network, addressing critical needs and improving our community. As the largest funder of civil legal aid in the District, we are a steadfast community partner, committed to protecting access to justice in life’s most pivotal moments.

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Accepting Applications: COVID-19 Response Grants

The DC Bar Foundation is proud to continue to support our grantees in their unwavering commitment to providing legal aid to our shared community, especially during these unprecedented times. 

In support of high-priority and emergent civil legal aid needs of DC residents more profoundly impacted by the pandemic, DCBF has committed a minimum of $100,000 toward COVID-19 response grants. All current DCBF grantees are eligible to submit one application for consideration. Grantees that provide civil legal aid in the following areas will receive priority: (1) helping low-wage workers facing workplace challenges stemming from COVID-19; (2) assisting families with child support, custody, and/or visitation emergencies due to the pandemic; or (3) supporting individuals who have lost their low-wage jobs, due to the crisis, to secure unemployment benefits and other types of cash and food assistance for their families.   

The applications are due by 3:00 p.m. on May 4, 2020. Organizations should email their completed application to grants@dcbarfoundation.org. You can access the application through this link: DCBF COVID-19 Response Grants Application. Only one submitted application per organization will be considered.  

Please direct all questions about the DCBF COVID-19 Response Grants Application to grants@dcbarfoundation.org. 

News of Note

Call to Action for Your DC Neighbors

Each year through our Call to Action initiative, local law firms and businesses generously fund legal aid for District residents in need. This year, to meet the needs of our community’s residents with low income, we’re asking 110 firms and corporations to step forward in raising $665,000. Already, 67 firms have contributed more than $430,000 toward our goal.

Will you be one of these champions for DC neighbors in need? Answer the Call to Action by donating on our website or filling out our printable donation form. Firms and corporations who make a commitment before March 31 will be honored in a special “thank you” ad in Washington Lawyer magazine.

Scoutt Prize Nominations: Due March 27

We are now accepting nominations for the 2020 Jerrold Scoutt Prize, awarded annually to an exceptional legal services attorney in the District of Columbia. Nominations must include a cover letter and the nominee’s curriculum vitae. Supporting materials, like articles of interest or letters of support, are highly encouraged. Nominations made for the 2018 and 2019 prize will be reconsidered. Those who submitted nominations in those years are encouraged to update their nomination materials.

Send nominations and supporting materials to nominations@dcbarfoundation.org by 5:00 PM on Friday, March 27, 2020.

Seeking Board of Directors Candidates: Could It Be You?

The DC Bar Foundation seeks candidates for our Board of Directors. Members serve a three-year term from October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2023.

We are committed to a diverse Board. We also seek candidates with experience that supports our strategic planning goal and accompanying strategies. Areas of desired experience and knowledge include:

  • Impactful grantmaking
  • Racial equity and justice
  • Multi-stakeholder collaboratives or networks
  • Research and evaluation
  • Delivery of civil legal aid without lawyers (e.g., technology, navigators, online intake)
  • Fundraising – beyond lawyers and law firms

DC Bar membership is not required. Click here to learn more about the Foundation’s commitment to furthering access to justice in DC. For more information, please contact Kirra Jarratt, Chief Executive Officer, at jarratt@dcbarfoundation.org.

Mark Your Calendar: Lip Sync for Justice June 4

Mark your calendar for this summer’s Lip Sync for Justice event! It happens Thursday, June 4 from 6 – 9 PM at Arnold & Porter (601 Massachusetts Ave, NW). Individual and corporate sponsorships, as well as individual tickets, are available for purchase. To purchase or for more information, visit our website.

DC BAR FOUNDATION LAUNCHES NEW INITIATIVE: NEIGHBORS DESIGNING JUSTICE

[District of Columbia, March 3, 2020] – Launching in MarchNeighbors Designing Justice will bring together community members and providers along with the DC Bar Foundation (DCBF) grantees in Anacostia, a predominantly African American and low-income Ward 8 neighborhood that is facing intense displacement. 

In January, the DC Bar Foundation awarded more than 25% of its $10.5M in civil legal aid grants to benefit residents of Ward 8. By taking a deep dive into the past, present and future of Anacostia, DCBF and its grantees will build trust and strengthen relationships with the community’s members, its social services providers, government agencies and its healthcare, education and cultural institutions. 

Beginning with Anacostia, Neighbors Designing Justice will support legal aid and other stakeholders working in tandem with low-income, vulnerable community members in a creative problem-solving process that gives everyone a voice. The initiative’s user-centered, community-based approach will engage DC residents, institutions and service providers as partners in designing more successful, user-friendly services.
 
With a fuller understanding of community issues from a resident’s perspective, a clearer picture will emerge as to which unresolved legal problems are the biggest barriers in people’s lives. The DC Bar Foundation and its grantees will learn directly from our DC neighbors how legal information and assistance could be delivered to the community in the most easily accessible and usable ways. 

About the DC Bar Foundation: For DC residents in poverty, we make strategic investments to strengthen and expand our civil legal aid network, addressing critical needs and improving our community. As the largest funder of civil legal aid in the District, we are a steadfast community partner, committed to protecting access to justice in life’s most pivotal moments.

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News of Note

We Are Hiring: Grants Manager

Looking for rewarding work promoting equal access to justice in the District? Or know a great candidate who is? The DC Bar Foundation is hiring a Grants Manager to join our hardworking team. See details here.

Call to Action for Your DC Neighbors

Each year through our Call to Action initiative, local law firms and businesses generously fund legal aid for District residents in need. This year, to meet the needs of our community’s residents with low income, we’re asking 110 firms and corporations to step forward in raising $665,000. Will you be one of these champions for DC neighbors in need? Already, 41 firms have contributed over $270,000 toward our goal. Answer the Call to Action by donating on our website or filling out our printable donation form

Scoutt Prize Nominations: Due March 27

We are now accepting nominations for the 2020 Jerrold Scoutt Prize, awarded annually to an exceptional legal services attorney in the District of Columbia. Nominations must include a cover letter and the nominee’s curriculum vitae. Supporting materials, like articles of interest or letters of support, are highly encouraged. Nominations made for the 2018 and 2019 Prize will be reconsidered. We encourage those who submitted nominations in previous years to update their nomination materials. Send nominations and all materials to nominations@dcbarfoundation.org by 5:00 PM on Friday, March 27, 2020. 

Save the Date: President’s Reception May 12

Foundation President David Ogden will host the annual President’s Reception at WilmerHale on Tuesday, May 12. This special event honors the esteemed members of our 77 Society: loyal donors who give $1,000 or more to the Foundation each year. To become a member of the 77 Society and attend the President’s Reception, please make or pledge your gift of $1,000 or more before Friday, May 1. For more information, contact Daryl Byler, Director of Development and Communications at byler@dcbarfoundation.org or (202) 853-9025. 

New Year, New Momentum for Access to Justice

Happy New Year!

I know you will be as inspired as I am by what is ahead. In 2020, with your support, we will continue our efforts to expand equal access to justice for our DC neighbors in greatest need.

Two standouts exemplify our momentum together headed into a new year and new decade:

  • In a record year for DC Bar Foundation grant-making – in which we awarded over $10.5 million to 33 grantees – we are proud to partner with several new grantees, including Safe Sisters Circle.

    Safe Sisters Circle focuses on ending the plague of domestic violence and sexual abuse, and supporting those victimized by it – especially Black women, who experience violence at a higher rate than any other ethnic group in our region.

    Our funding will give underserved residents of Wards 7 and 8 accessible attorney support and other legal services, through the East of the River Women’s Legal Services and Healing Project. It provides free, culturally-specific, holistic, trauma-based services to Black women survivors of domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
     
  • We are thrilled to offer our grantees the fourth and final session in a Racial Justice Training Series.

    This training makes an essential contribution to our local legal aid community. It helps participants understand the meaning of racial equity and provides tools for envisioning and constructing equity in our workspaces.

    This interactive experience helps participants develop a path to understanding not only for themselves, but for their organizations as well. It prepares participants to meet the people they serve with greater skill and awareness, improving every outcome.

As we move into the first year of our new Strategic Plan, infusing racial justice and equity in our work will be a priority. To accomplish this, we will study and implement best practices on racial justice and equity initiatives, explore local partnerships where there are opportunities to align efforts, and evolve internally by learning, reflecting, unlearning and changing our practices in the pursuit of racial justice.
 
Thank you for standing with us as we bring the pursuit of access to justice into the new decade. Together, we will make 2020 a transformative year.

With gratitude,

Kirra L. Jarratt
Chief Executive Officer

News of Note

Have Fun + Fund Legal Aid = Go Casual for Justice (Deadline Extended!)

Looking for a FUN way to make legal aid accessible to all District residents in need, while bringing your team together? We are extending Go Casual for Justice until February 15, 2020 so that even more workplaces have the opportunity to dress down in support of civil legal aid in DC. We aim to raise $50,000 from 40 justice-loving workplaces. Will you help us get there? To register your workplace, fill out our registration form or contact Greer Richey, Development and Communications Assistant at at  or (202) 853-9022. THANK YOU to all who have participated so far!richey@dcbarfoundation.org or (202) 853-9022. THANK YOU to all who have participated so far!

Applause for Combined Federal Campaign Donors!

We are grateful to each of you who gave to the Foundation through the 2019 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), making equal access to justice possible for District neighbors. Thank you! We hope we can count on your support again next year.

We Are Hiring: Grants Manager

Looking for rewarding work promoting equal access to justice in the District? Or know a great candidate who is? The DC Bar Foundation is hiring a Grants Manager to join our hardworking team. See details here.

Scoutt Prize Nominations: Due March 27

We are now accepting nominations for the 2020 Jerrold Scoutt Prize, awarded annually to an exceptional legal services attorney in the District of Columbia. Nominations must include a cover letter and the nominee’s curriculum vitae. Supporting materials, like articles of interest or letters of support, are highly encouraged. Send nominations and supporting materials to nominations@dcbarfoundation.org by 5 PM on Friday, March 27.

Save the Date: President’s Reception May 12

Foundation President David Ogden will host the annual President’s Reception on Tuesday, May 12, 2020, honoring the esteemed members of our 77 Society – loyal donors who give $1,000 or more to the Foundation each year. To become a member of the 77 Society and attend the President’s Reception, please make or pledge your gift of $1,000 or more before Friday, May 1. For more information, contact Daryl Byler, Director of Development and Communications at byler@dcbarfoundation.org or (202) 853-9025.

Mark Your Calendar: Lip Sync for Justice June 4 

Mark your calendar for this summer’s Lip Sync for Justice event! It happens Thursday, June 4 from 6 – 9 PM at Arnold & Porter (601 Massachusetts Ave, NW). Individual and corporate sponsorships, as well as individual tickets, are available for purchase. To purchase or for more information, visit our website.

Partner Profile: Wayne Gibson

Each month, we highlight an individual working to make the justice system more accessible to DC residents. This month features Wayne Gibson, Senior Managing Director at FTI Consulting and member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Years on the Job

13 years at FTI and over 20 overall in the industry.

Where did you grow up?

Wilmington, Delaware

What brought you to DC?

I came to DC after graduate school, but had always had an affinity for the area because I had family here and visited often as I was growing up.

What was your first job in DC and what did you learn?

I came to DC after graduate school and worked for Arthur Andersen in one their consulting divisions, where I learned about organizing and motivating teams to problem solve large issues & challenges faced by our clients. However, prior to that I interned for a summer for the EPA in their econometrics and analytics division, called the Office of Policy Planning and Evaluation. That was the first time I really began to get to know DC as an adult and spend time in each quadrant (i.e. SW, NW, NE, SE). At the EPA, I learned a bit about the functioning of a Federal agency and how policies were economically evaluated for some programs.

Daily Habit

Reading (news and fiction), exercise (cycling and boxing)

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?

I’m finishing a biography on Da Vinci – an amazing polymath. It would be an interesting conversation.

You get one extra hour of free time per day. How do you use it?

Currently I would alternate between spending time with my kids, reading, and practicing guitar.

One item from your Bucket List

Watch a soccer match in Barcelona

Most rewarding element of your work

The impact I get to have on organizations

Legal aid is important to me because…

It combats the continued disenfranchisement of people of color

Your dream for our legal system is…

Fairness

Little known fact about your organization

Our scope and origin – we have over 4,500 people worldwide, and were founded to present technical issues during trials.

Calling You to Action: Provide Legal Resources for DC Neighbors in Need

Many individuals in our DC community need legal resources they cannot afford.

When you support our 2020 Call to Action campaign, you join with others who share your commitment to equal access to justice. This year, we aim to raise $665,000 from local law firms and corporations by June 30, 2020. Will you help us reach our goal and provide access to justice for our neighbors in need?

We are grateful to the organizations who have already joined the with us through our 2020 Call to Action campaign. Thank you! And we would especially like to recognize this year’s Platinum Call to Action donors, who have each contributed $25,000 or more to this year’s campaign:

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Alston & Bird LLP

Sidley Austin LLP

WilmerHale

We also thank our dedicated Volunteer Solicitors, who help drive the success of this campaign.

If your firm has not yet become a Call to Action leader, please join us today by donating online or by mailing in our printable donation form. A current list of all participating firms can be found on our website. For more information, please contact Daryl Byler, Director of Development and Communications at: byler@dcbarfoundation.og or (202) 853-9025.