In recognition of January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, this month’s newsletter highlights the work of Foundation grantee Amara Legal Center. Amara, founded in 2013 by Stacie Reimer, provides free legal services to individuals whose rights have been violated while involved in sex trafficking, whether by coercion, necessity, or choice. Recognizing the need for legal aid support within this community, the Foundation first supported Amara in 2016. As a result of this and subsequent funding, Amara has been able to serve more survivors than ever before and help train social and legal services organizations on identifying victims of sex trafficking. In the past year, the Foundation’s funding has enabled Amara to expand their intake locations and hours, which increases their accessibility to survivors needing legal help and helps them reach a wider audience. As an added benefit, Ms. Reimer stated that the Foundation’s grant was a “stamp of approval” that created a legitimacy early on and helped win other grants. Read on to learn a little more about Ms. Reimer, featured in our Partner Profile this month, as well as Elizabeth Landau, a public interest attorney in the Foundation’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program.
On behalf of the DC Bar Foundation, thank you again for your support of the vision that one’s legal outcomes should not be determined by whether you can afford an attorney. And many thanks to Ms. Reimer, Ms. Landau, and all of their colleagues at Amara Legal Center for their work and dedication.
Kirra L. Jarratt, Executive Director
The DC Bar Foundation (DCBF) is committed to working strategically with the DC legal aid community to increase access to justice. We provide 360° support to our community by funding legal aid organizations, providing professional development opportunities to attorneys working at those organizations, and helping some of those same attorneys reduce their law school debt with our Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP).
This year, with your support and that of many others, we awarded over $400,000 through our LRAP to 76 civil legal aid lawyers, who work with legal aid organizations representing low-income, underserved residents of the District. Elizabeth Landau is one of those lawyers. Her work at Amara Legal Center is aided by the funding she receives from the LRAP program. “In addition to lifting a significant financial burden, it also serves as a source of encouragement. It is a reminder that the DC legal community cares about public interest law and values my position,” she said.
Elizabeth has worked with Amara for over a year, and, in that role, she handles a caseload that not only includes domestic violence cases but human-trafficking victim cases as well. The subject is not new to Elizabeth, who has worked on issues affecting human-trafficking victims internationally. An internship led to an opportunity in Prague, Czech Republic.
“I provided direct services while also assisting to build a network of [non-governmental organizations] internationally, compiling best practices on helping victims of trafficking and giving presentations and workshops on three continents. Following this, I spent time working with trafficking victims as a Transitional Housing Advocate at a domestic violence shelter in Kansas City, MO. Each of these experiences led me to believe that pursuing a law degree would better equip me to assist trafficking survivors.”
Today, Elizabeth uses her law degree to continue to work in service of others. It provides her with a sense of fulfillment, stating, “public interest law is my way of striving for social justice and finding fulfillment in life.” While Elizabeth was advised by many to pursue a for-profit institution, she chose her passion over profit. The availability of LRAP funds makes Elizabeth’s choice to stay within public interest easier. “I went to law school for a specific purpose, and trying to find a well-paying job outside of that purpose felt disingenuous to me. I was amazed that LRAP existed, and it reaffirmed my decision to pursue the career I wanted.”
To learn more about LRAP, please visit: https://dcbarfoundation.org/lrap/.
Each month, we highlight your efforts to make the justice system more accessible for DC residents. This Partner Profile features Stacie Reimer, Executive Director and Founding Partner at Amara Legal Center.
Amara Legal Center
Years on the Job
Where did you grow up?
What brought you to DC?
What was your first job in DC, and what did you learn?
I was an intake intern at the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition (CAIR). While there, I was exposed to the great need for legal advocacy on behalf of immigrants in the DC metro area.
I try to meditate, even if just for 10 minutes.
Insight Timer – it has tons of guided meditations.
I love the show International House Hunters.
Favorite Vacation Spot
Anywhere out of the country – I love to travel!
Chocolate and ice cream
One Item from your Bucket List
Run a marathon
Yoga, traveling, spending time with friends
Your News Source(s)
Does The Daily Show count?
One thing (other than your phone) you never leave the house without is…
My water bottle and earphones
You get to paint a mural on the side of the White House. What do you paint?
Symbols of racial and gender equity and peace
Biggest failure and what you learned
I’ve learned rejection doesn’t equal failure
Most rewarding element of your work
Knowing that we’re providing a vital service
List three main challenges you faced early on in your career
Long hours, building trust, steep learning curve
If I hadn’t become a lawyer, I would be…
My other job is a yoga teacher
If I weren’t working at Amara Legal Center, I would be…
Working on systemic criminal justice reform
Legal aid is important to me because …
It can provide stability to vulnerable people
Your dream for our legal system is…
A system that is easy to navigate and free for all
The most pressing civil legal aid issue in DC is…
Protecting tenants’ rights impacted by development
Little known fact about your organization
We’re grateful to be housed inside Ropes and Gray.
Would you like to tell us about your role in DC’s legal aid community? Fill out our Partner Profile Survey and share your story in an upcoming newsletter.
The DC Bar Foundation will hold an information session for organizations interested in submitting proposals for housing-related projects for the Access to Justice Grants Program and Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program. The grant funding covers the time period from July 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019. The information session is Thursday, March 8 from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. RSVPs are required. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to RSVP.