Posts Tagged ‘Issue 36 (July 2019)’


Coming Soon: July 30 Info Session on 2020 Grants
We are gearing up for another successful grants year. On Tuesday, July 30 from 2:30 to 4:30 pm, we will host an information session for organizations interested in submitting applications for funding to provide free civil legal aid to low-income DC residents. The Foundation will accept applications for 2020 Grants until Friday, August 23 at 12 pm.

RSVPs for the information session are requiredRSVP here no later than Thursday, July 25. Questions about applying for funding? Contact

Calling all Young Lawyers: Join the Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council
Are you a young lawyer in Washington, DC looking to make a difference in the District? Apply to be a member of our Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council (YLN LC)! Joining the YLN LC presents a unique opportunity for young lawyers to get involved with our mission of furthering access to justice for all District residents. The YLN LC creates a space for members to connect their professional identity with their philanthropic spirit.

We are now accepting applications for two-year terms beginning October 2019 and expiring September 2021. Please submit application materials to Greer Richey, Development and Communications Assistant, at by August 2 at 5 pm.

Apply for our Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) 2020
Are you dedicated to serving the most vulnerable people in our community? If you work for one of our eligible employers in DC and provide free legal services to low-income residents, we may be able to assist you with our 2020 Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). Applications are due October 25, 2019. To learn more and to see if you qualify, visit our information page.

Training DC’s Legal Aid Attorneys: Promoting Client Success

We are dedicated to supporting trainings and technical assistance that keep DC’s civil legal aid community comprised of highly-qualified, effective attorneys.

The most recent was last month’s Building Trial Skills training in the District, led by Administrative Law Judge Sharon E. Goodie of DC Office of Administrative Hearings and Sidley Austin LLP Partner Jeffrey Senger, both volunteers for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. Participating attorneys practiced opening statements, direct and cross examinations, closing arguments, objections, and admitting evidence after learning best practices from experienced faculty representing a variety of litigation practices.

At the end of the week, attendees participated in a mock trial at the US District Court, where each had the chance to show off the critical skills and techniques they had developed. The training, while intensive, ensures that the students are learning by doing and that they are developing their careers with expert mentors along the way. 

“I found the week-long intensive trial skills training to be extremely helpful. I was on my feet practicing every day and received lots of direct, personalized feedback from seasoned trial attorneys and judges. I left feeling much more confident and capable in my trial advocacy skills. I’d highly recommend it to other young lawyers in DC and hope others get a chance to benefit from this program.”

– Eleni Christidis, training participant and staff attorney for our grantee Legal Aid Society of DC
An advanced phase of this training is scheduled for September and focuses on the skills necessary to persuade a jury. Your generous support of the DC Bar Foundation funds scholarships for public interest attorneys like Eleni to attend trainings like these. Thank you!

Save the Date: Join us for October 10 Fall Reception

Mark your calendar! Join us in recognizing our grantees, LRAP participants, loyal donors, and volunteers at our annual Fall Reception.

Alston & Bird LLP (950 F. St., NW) generously hosts this celebration on the evening of Thursday, October 10 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

On this special evening we will also present the Jerrold Scoutt Prize to the 2019 recipient, Mr. Daniel M. Clark of DC Law Students in Court. Mr. Clark is the Director of DC Law Students in Court’s Civil Division and Co-Director of their Eviction Defense Survives, and he has been with the organization since 2013. Please join us in recognizing Mr. Clark for his devoted, skillful, and compassionate legal services on behalf of our disadvantaged neighbors in the District of Columbia.

For more information or to RSVP for our Fall Reception, please email

Letter from the Executive Director

Dear Friends:

During this month of celebrating our nation’s independence, we are reflecting on access to justice as a foundation of American democracy.

It’s a principle we should never take for granted, as * Meaza’s story reminds me.

At age 8 in Ethiopia, her country of origin, Meaza was subjected to FGM (female genital mutilation), suffering lifelong complications since. As an adult – a mother and a devout Christian – Meaza worked for an organization coordinating travel for Christian groups on pilgrimages. As part of her role, she helped journalists and political opponents escape persecution by the Ethiopian government. But when she was caught, she was arrested and detained, beaten, and subjected to inhumane conditions before being released.

Meaza took her two daughters and fled to the United States to start a new life. 

Here, pro bono attorneys from our grantee Torture and Abolition Survivors Support Coalition (TASSC)helped her assemble a defensive asylum application. Then, through the counsel and mentorship of our grantee’s attorneys, she successfully argued the merits of her case – and won. Last year Meaza was granted asylum in the U.S. She is now rebuilding a healthy, safe, happy life with her children.

The threat and reality of torture is an affront to equality, freedom, and fundamental human rights. And ensuring equal access to legal resources that protect basic human rights, regardless of ability to pay, is our mission. That means for the newest, the poorest, the most desperate and vulnerable in our community.

Because of the Foundation’s support for their uniquely integrated model, TASSC has been able to formalize and sustain an in-house legal program, scaling it to meet pressing needs at no cost to recipients. It’s why Meaza was able to access legal assistance, psychological counseling, case management, and community activities all in one place, backed by a trauma-informed staff in a home-like environment.

This is what your generous support makes possible. On behalf of our DC neighbors like Meaza, thank you! The fight for full realization of our nation’s democratic values continues.


Kirra L. Jarratt
Executive Director

* a pseudonym to protect client privacy

Partner Profile: Hiwot Berihun

Each month we highlight an individual working to make the justice system more accessible to DC residents. This month features Hiwot Berihun, Legal Director at African Communities Together (ACT).

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Ethiopia and raised in Northern Virginia.

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

I was a consultant for the IT consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

Daily Habit

Walking, meditation

Favorite Movie

“As Good As it Gets”

Favorite Vacation Spot


One item from your Bucket List

Write a book


Yoga, hiking, reading, and exercising


My parents

One thing (other than your phone) you never leave your house without is…

A sweater or scarf

Most rewarding element of your work

When immigrant families reunite or gain status

If I hadn’t become a lawyer, I would be an…


Legal aid is important to me because…

It affords access to legal representation.

Your dream for our legal system is…

Equal, quality representation for all.