Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 32

FEATURE

LAW & SERVICE

OAG CONNECTS TO THE COMMUNITY
By John Murph

L

ast year, Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl A.
Racine read Brad Meltzer's book I Am Rosa Parks to a
handful of students at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary
School as part of a literacy initiative sponsored by the
nonprofit Everybody Wins DC. In addition to explaining
his role as attorney general, Racine helped distribute
books to spark the children's passion for reading.

So, we also can't do pro bono work with any organization that's supporting people who are involved in legal matters against the city."

Also last year, Greg Pace, assistant chief of the Mental Health Section of
the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia (OAG), led a
presentation about the dangers of synthetic marijuana at the nonprofit So
Others Might Eat, which supports vulnerable city residents facing homelessness and poverty.

The OAG also allowed for de minimis uses of the agency's resources such
as copy machines and computers.

Avoiding conflicts was not as big of a hurdle for the OAG as informing its
lawyers about pro bono work opportunities and making the process easy
for them. Another issue was providing its legal staff time to conduct pro
bono work during normal business hours.
Natalie Ludaway, who served as chief deputy attorney general for the
District until her departure in March, says the program provides eight
administrative leave hours for OAG employees to do pro bono work. "But
still, this is endorsed for the benefit of everyone."

REAPING THE REWARDS
OF VOLUNTEERISM
Before Pace joined the OAG seven years ago,
he worked at the Children's Law Center and
the Legal Aid Bureau in Rockville, Maryland.
"I've always loved the opportunity to directly
engage with the public," he says, noting that
although his current job does benefit the
general public, he misses the direct interaction with clients.

Those are just two examples of how the OAG leadership and staff are
broadening their work beyond enforcing the city's laws. By partnering
with organizations such as Everybody Wins DC and So Others Might Eat,
the OAG is encouraging staff to serve individuals in various civic volunteering capacities, including pro bono service.

MAKING PRO BONO POSSIBLE

Karl A. Racine

In December 2018, Racine outlined policies
allowing OAG lawyers to engage in pro bono
work, defined as legal advice or assistance to
individuals through legal aid organizations
such as the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center and the
Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.
It identified pro bono professional services as
activities where OAG's legal staff use their
skills to assist individuals in tasks such as
drafting grant applications or filing for construction permits.

But as with lawyers in attorneys general offices in states such as
Washington, Ohio, and New York, which have established their own pro
bono programs, OAG staff cannot provide legal advice or services that
conflict with the agency's interests.
"The most obvious conflict of interest would be criminal work," says
Elaine Block, ethics counsel for the OAG. "We can't possibly have our
lawyers volunteering with organizations that are serving criminal defendants, for obvious reasons. We're a prosecution agency to some extent.

32 WASHINGTON LAWYER

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JUNE 2020

Greg Pace

When the OAG launched its pro bono
program, Pace was thrilled. "It seemed like
a chance for me to really get back to that part of this work that I love,"
he says. "Just having that kind of face-to-face [interaction] with regular
people, who are literally our neighbors, then coming up with something
that would provide an immediate benefit to them is rewarding."
When Pace talked about synthetic marijuana at So Others Might Eat, he
teamed up with Edward Mills, the Fire and Emergency Medical Service
Department's assistant fire chief. The two gave an overview of synthetic
drugs and how easily they can be bought at neighborhood convenience
stores and gas stations. They also encouraged the attendees to be
mindful of the drug problem and recommended talking to a counselor as
an alternative to contacting the police.
"Some people may not be comfortable calling the police," says Pace.
"We felt like we gave the audience some tools to improve their community . . . We got a lot of good feedback about how approachable we
were. Unfortunately, for a lot of these folks, their only engagement with
law enforcement is when something bad happens. So, it was nice for

Photos courtesy of the D.C. Office of the Attorney General



Washington Lawyer - June 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - June 2020

YOUR VOICE
FROM OUR PRESIDENT
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
BAR BUSINESS: BUDGET REPORT
MEET GEOFFREY M. KLINEBERG: 49TH PRESIDENT OF THE D.C. BAR
MOVING THE NEEDLE ON LAW FIRM DIVERSITY
THE 2020 JOHN PAYTON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
JAMES SANDMAN GOES BACK TO SCHOOL
LAW & SERVICE: OAG CONNECTS TO THE COMMUNITY
ON FURTHER REVIEW
THE LEARNING CURVE
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
WORTH READING
ATTORNEY BRIEFS
DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
THE PRO BONO EFFECT
SPECIAL SECTION: UNFINISHED FIGHT
LAST WORD
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 4
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - YOUR VOICE
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - FROM OUR PRESIDENT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 7
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - BAR BUSINESS: BUDGET REPORT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MEET GEOFFREY M. KLINEBERG: 49TH PRESIDENT OF THE D.C. BAR
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MOVING THE NEEDLE ON LAW FIRM DIVERSITY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE 2020 JOHN PAYTON LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 26
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - JAMES SANDMAN GOES BACK TO SCHOOL
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - LAW & SERVICE: OAG CONNECTS TO THE COMMUNITY
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - ON FURTHER REVIEW
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE LEARNING CURVE
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 40
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - WORTH READING
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - ATTORNEY BRIEFS
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 45
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - THE PRO BONO EFFECT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 48
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - SPECIAL SECTION: UNFINISHED FIGHT
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - LAST WORD
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - June 2020 - Cover4
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