Washington Lawyer - August/September 2018 - 45
THE PRO BONO EFFECT
as a Bankruptcy Expert Mentor
By Natalie S. Walker
atalie S. Walker is an equity
partner at Webster &
Fredrickson, PLLC. Walker is a
dedicated mentor with the D.C.
Bar Pro Bono Center's Bankruptcy
Clinic. She is the immediate past
president of the Washington Bar
Association, and she serves on
the executive committee of the
Council for Court Excellence.
product of the District of Columbia Public Schools
system. In my senior year at the School Without
Walls, I earned college credit, allowing me to enter
Howard University as a sophomore. While a student
at Howard, I worked as an investigator for the D.C.
Public Defender Service and as an intern at the
National Organization of Black Law Enforcement
Executives, focusing on race and sex discrimination.
In 2007 I joined the law firm of Webster, Fredrickson
& Bradshaw, PLLC. My first day on the job I was
told I would be the firm's bankruptcy specialist.
Although I had never practiced bankruptcy law,
I was confident my firm would equip me with the
necessary skills and training to effectively represent
our bankruptcy clients. What I could not have anticipated was that practicing bankruptcy law would
lead to my work as an expert mentor with the D.C.
Bar Pro Bono Center's Bankruptcy Clinic.
That Anne Beers Elementary School student
who stood before Justice Marshall is now an
equity partner at Webster & Fredrickson, serving
as counsel to District of Columbia Chapter 7
Trustee Wendell W. Webster in all Chapter 7 asset
cases. My role is very litigious and requires me
to engage in an extensive motions practice
and appellate practice. I also represent individual
debtors in Chapter 7, 13, and 11 cases. Most of
my bankruptcy clients are low- to middle-income
residents of the District and Maryland. I also work
with District citizens on issues such as foreclosure
and condominium conversion, both of which are
critical issues facing our courts.
My work with the Bankruptcy Clinic broadened
my understanding of the ways in which one can
do pro bono work. Direct representation is one
way to serve. In my case, I have been able to use
the expertise I developed in my practice area to
mentor other pro bono volunteers.
As an attorney practicing in D.C., I believe in giving
back to the community that has given me so much.
I was born and raised in the District's Fort Davis
neighborhood in Southeast, and I am a proud
Patrice Gilbert Photography
While studying for my J.D. at North Carolina Central
University School of Law, I received the Council on
Legal Education Opportunity's Thurgood Marshall
Scholarship. Besides covering some of my educational expenses, this scholarship harkened back to
a pivotal experience in middle school. My interest
in the law began in sixth grade, when I won an
essay contest and was invited to the U.S. Supreme
Court to read my essay. There, I met Justice
Thurgood Marshall just before he died.
Almost 80 percent of the defendants I see in these
bankruptcy courts are pro se; this is the reason I feel
that pro bono service is both my professional and
A few years ago, Judge S. Martin Teel Jr. of the
U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Columbia