Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 30

FEATURE
benefit from the positive impact of solar energy," Ely adds. "Providing
resiliency for such a vulnerable community is so important because when
the power grid goes out, they are often the ones who really get cut off
from any resources."
The Maycroft battery system is just one of New Partners' many accomplishments. Some of the nonprofit's earlier successes include energy
benefits for residents of Copeland Manor in Southeast and Trinity Plaza
in Southwest, both in partnership with organizations that advocate for
affordable, safe, and sustainable housing for vulnerable individuals.
DOEE's Wells cites New Partners as a key player in helping the city achieve
its energy goals, thanks in part to the credibility Lesk and Stevens have
earned from so many commercial building owners and the partnerships
they've formed with other nonprofit organizations. "New Partners has
been really thoughtful and patient throughout its implementation,"
Wells says. "And they've put a lot of their best thinking and experience
into making it work."
"We're building our coalition of partners," Lesk says. "We're talking to
people who have an interest in environmental justice - the D.C. Office
of the People's Counsel, the D.C. Public Service Commission, and DOEE."
Stevens and Lesk also work with WDC Solar, a minority-owned and
-operated solar engineering, construction, and procurement company
located in Ward 8. Together they're installing solar panels at Ludlow-Taylor
Elementary School in Northeast to facilitate renewable and sustainable
energy for the school. The collaboration is also creating job training
opportunities for low-income residents, some of whom are returning
from the criminal justice system. WDC Solar has been fostering the free
solar installation training program for almost a decade.
"It's giving people who otherwise would not have the opportunities to
work in solar energy business the training they need," explains Kenton
Edelin, general counsel for WDC Solar. "They come in obviously as lowskilled installers. But we teach them the basics. A lot of lower-income
residents have no idea of how solar energy really works. And they don't
know ways of getting involved."
Fifteen graduates of WDC Solar's job-training project will obtain fullfledged jobs in the solar industry, first by helping to install the panels
at Ludlow-Taylor.
This project is the first for New Partners that involves property owned by
the District. The idea to build a canopy with solar panels came mostly from
Sally Parker, the energy and sustainability liaison for D.C. Public Schools.
Ludlow-Taylor had already demonstrated a strong focus on wellness and
health through its curriculum, which includes gardening and physical education. However, the school's cafeteria and gymnasium shared the same
space, so during inclement weather, midday physical education classes
couldn't take place because the cafeteria needed the space for lunch.
Parker originally thought of installing a rooftop over the school's basketball court. That idea did not work out, so she reached out to DOEE, which
in turn referred her to New Partners.
"To make the project financially viable, we had to maximize the solar
capacity of an installation. So instead of having just a canopy with solar
panels, they encouraged us to install solar panels on the entire roof of the

30 WASHINGTON LAWYER

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MARCH/APRIL 2020

school. The two systems in combination are going to maximize the solar
energy benefits," Parker explains.
New Partners coached Parker on the world of tax credits, financing, and
license agreements. The group also assured Parker that its involvement
wouldn't be simply financially motivated. "They've been wonderful from
the very beginning," Parker says.
The rooftop solar panel installation was finalized at the end of 2019.
The canopy will hopefully be finished this spring. Once complete, the
project will start a second phase in which the school will incorporate
solar energy education into its curriculum. "We are going to have kids
go up onto the canopy and see the solar panels when they're finished,"
Parker says.

LAWYERING FOR THE GREATER GOOD
To best facilitate renewable solar energy for the District, Lesk and Stevens
had to rethink lawyering. In addition to their skills drafting transactional
contracts, negotiating, and analyzing state and federal regulations, they
became advocates and educators of many of the environmental justice and
affordable housing-focused syndicated tax-credit incentives for developers,
bankers, commercial property owners, landlords, and investors.
"A lot of that work was outside the conventional role of being pure
lawyers," Lesk says. "But the work was so important to us."
For Stevens, rethinking lawyering means "learning what a lawyer can be."
"We all do that throughout our careers. There are all kinds of ways to be
a good, smart, kind, and considerate lawyer," he says.
Stevens sees the nonprofit as a logical extension of Nixon Peabody. "It's
an outgrowth of the firm's brand and character, which is finding ways to
connect with people within the community," he says. "Nixon Peabody
was totally supportive of the idea of Jeff and me using our own time to
create the nonprofit and fund an independent board. We use Nixon
Peabody's internal pro bono services, recruiting more than 25 of the
firm's lawyers to help people in the D.C. community go solar."
"It's always been my desire for my work to have meaning," Stevens adds.
"The ability to bring our legal skills to solve problems of our city and residents is incredibly satisfying. We all can give money to charities, but
there's something about using your own personal skills that makes it
more meaningful."
With its successes, New Partners is slowly building its staff. Lesk says that
Nixon Peabody is committed to keeping the nonprofit within its pro bono
program for the foreseeable future. "I think our maximum impact is going
to be in finding ways to leverage what we've already done," Lesk says.
"One way is to get more involved in policy."
New Partners recently lobbied for two provisions in the D.C. law to
enhance the Solar for All program, making it more workable and economically viable. And, of course, the nonprofit is seeking new partners
in the dual fight for affordable housing and environmental justice.
"For us, the concept of justice is making sure that our most vulnerable
households benefit from whatever advances we're making in solarpowered renewable energy. Everyone living in the District should get
the economic advantages, the health benefits, and the job opportunities
of renewable energy," says Lesk.



Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar Of Events
Women of Impact feature
The Race to End Roe feature
Solar Power Access Feature
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
Global & Domestic Outlook
Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Pro Bono Effect
Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Calendar Of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Women of Impact feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 18
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - The Race to End Roe feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Solar Power Access Feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 44
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 52
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover4
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