Posts Tagged ‘Issue 29 (December 2018)’

News of Note

2019 Scoutt Prize Nominations Accepted Through February 1, 2019


We are now accepting nominations for the 2019 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. Please send nominations and supporting materials to info@dcbarfoundation.org by 5:00 PM on February 1, 2019.

Combined Federal Campaign Ends January 11, 2019


We are participating in the 2018 Combined Federal Campaign of the National Capital Area, which runs through January 11, 2019. If you are a federal employee and would like to support our efforts to strengthen DC’s civil legal aid network, use designation code: #87057. Find out more about our involvement in the CFC here.

Host a Go Casual Event at Your Workplace


This year, our legal aid community celebrates the tenth anniversary of the Go Casual for Justice dress-down campaign. So far, 38 workplaces have signed up to participate – help us reach our goal of 60 participating workplaces! Register by emailing richey@dcbarfoundation.org, and learn more about Go Casual on our website.

Your Support is a Gift to Neighbors in Need This Holiday Season

This holiday season, we are especially grateful for you – our friends and supporters who believe in the necessity of civil legal aid and the importance of fighting for access to justice for all.

Whether it’s helping a legal aid lawyer fight to keep a client’s heat on for a few more days or advocating for better patient treatment in our healthcare system, your gifts to the Foundation translate to tangible impact for your District neighbors. Your continued support ensures that no DC resident goes without legal resources and representation, simply because they can’t afford it.

We can’t do it without you! Though the end of 2018 is fast approaching, there is still time to make your tax-deductible contribution to the Foundation, giving the gift of equal access to justice in time for the holidays. Please visit our website to learn more about our impact and to make a gift today.

Thank you for your support!

Your Support at Work: Housing Advocacy for People with Mental Illness

In 2018 through our Access to Justice Grants Program, we awarded funding to Housing Advocacy for People with Mental Illness, a project of University Legal Services.

This project assists individuals with serious mental illness who live in community residential facilities or other Department of Behavioral Health housing – or those who need support in their own housing to avoid institutionalization. These individuals require a variety of housing-related services, from addressing needed repairs in their buildings to requesting reasonable accommodations for their special needs.

Because of supporters like you, lawyers with University Legal Services (ULS) can conduct outreach, provide “Know Your Rights” trainings, and offer direct legal services to residents in need. This is made possible, in part, by ULS’s access to facilities most legal services providers are unable to enter. At a recent site visit, ULS Executive Director Jane Brown shared the impact this project has had on members of our community:

“We were conducting a training and an older resident approached us afterwards, asking if we could help her get a winter coat. It turned out she was being told she had to leave the facility during the day, so she was spending that time outdoors or walking to nearby restaurants, and she was cold.

The facility did not have the authority to basically kick this person out of their home all day, simply in order to relieve the burden of staffing. Luckily we were able to represent this tenant’s rights, and as a result she has now been able to spend the afternoons inside her home when she chooses to. We wouldn’t have even known this was happening if she hadn’t asked for that coat.”

To learn more about the Foundation’s grant supporting ULS’s Housing Advocacy for People With Mental Illness, visit our website.

Letter from the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

This year the DC Bar Foundation launched a new program to address DC’s housing crisis. It’s called the Civil Legal Counsel Projects Program (CLCPP), and it is life-changing for low-income DC residents like Lucy. 

Lucy was scheduled to be evicted from her home on a Friday, just ahead of her daughter starting the new year at their neighborhood school.

On Thursday, she went to Landlord and Tenant Court, where she met a lawyer from our grantee DC Law Students in Court. During intake, the attorney learned that Lucy had applied for, and been granted, rental assistance from a local services agency. But the agency had been unable to connect with the landlord to confirm where payment should be sent.

With this knowledge, the legal aid team drafted an application to stay the writ of eviction and went before the court that same day. Through a stay and by connecting with the local agency, rental assistance went through to the landlord and stopped the eviction permanently. Lucy and her child kept a roof over their heads and were in their neighborhood for the first day of school.

Countless stories like Lucy’s unfold each year in the District, but too often they don’t have happy endings. Only a small percentage of residents like Lucy get access to legal representation, dramatically increasing their chances of losing their homes and subsidies.

But we’re working to change that. We are proud to be designated the administrator of this new program providing free legal services to low-income DC tenants at risk of losing their homes. It’s a big step forward for our most vulnerable neighbors.

The program is addressing DC’s housing crisis at a time when other funding is scarce. In the past year alone, the DC Bar Foundation has awarded more than $4 million in eviction-defense grants, targeting legal aid to wards with greatest need.

And the need is great. Did you know?

  • 18.6% of District residents live in poverty – one of the highest rates in the nation.
  • At least 39,000 low-income households in the District pay more than half of their income for rent, a 16% increase since 2007.
  • Last year DC landlords filed more than 30,000 eviction cases, roughly 95% alleging nonpayment of rent.

Now, lawyers funded by the DC Bar Foundation are located in the Landlord and Tenant Court every day, providing free legal services to low-income District residents. The new program plays a crucial role in offsetting housing hardships, and it establishes DC as a national leader addressing fundamental human needs like housing, health, and safety.

As we reflect on 2018, all of us at DCBF are grateful for this new opportunity to profoundly impact lives like Lucy’s and her child’s. Thank you for your continued support and engagement, which makes it all possible!

Sincerely,

Kirra L. Jarratt
Executive Director

Partner Profile: Paul S. Lee

Each month we highlight an individual working to make the justice system more accessible to DC residents. This month features Paul S. Lee, an original member of our Young Lawyer’s Network Leadership Council, founded in 2011.

Organization

Steptoe & Johnson

Job/Position

Pro Bono Counsel

Years on the Job

2 Weeks! (7.5 years prior as Pro Bono Counsel at Dechert)

Where did you grow up?

Early years in NYC, high school/college in NC.

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

The Coalition for Residential Education. I learned the importance of connecting people (in this case, educators) who do similar things, who think they’re operating alone.

INTERESTING FACTS

One item from your Bucket List?

Skydiving. (I’ve already bungee jumped.)

You get to paint a mural on the side of the White House. What do you paint?

Pre-2016, something showing off DC’s beauty, but also its lack of representation.

Biggest failure and what you learned?

Losing out on a job I thought was perfect for me, only to get something better in the long run.  The universe’s self-correction mode.

Most rewarding element of your work?

When an attorney raves to me about a recent win or great pro bono experience, and knowing they’re hooked.

List three main challenges you faced early on in your career.

Often working in departments of one or two, being younger than most of my colleagues, and dealing with leadership that did not understand the nuts and bolts of an organization.

Your dream for our legal system is…

Increased government funding for legal aid, not tethered to political motivation.

The most pressing civil legal aid issue in DC is…

The shrinking supply of affordable housing.