Washington Lawyer - May 2017 - 28

Sidley Austin LLP

From left: Paul Zidlicky,
Sidley's D.C. pro bono chair;
Carter Phillips, chair of Sidley's
Executive Committee; Michael
Prada, son of Vincent Prada,
the Sidley partner for whom the
firm's pro bono awards are
named; Sven Erik Holmes,
vice chair, Legal, Risk and
Regulatory, and chief legal
officer for KPMG LLP;
Rebecca Troth; Mark Hopson,
managing partner, Sidley's D.C.
office; and Michael Warden,
co-leader of Sidley's accountants
and professional liability
practice.

Working with Reno was such a great experience
because, other than my father, I didn't know anyone
who tried so hard to do the right thing.
I left at the end of the Clinton administration to
teach at American University Washington College
of Law. Loved the students, but academia wasn't
for me. After two years of teaching, I became
the legal director of the National Law Center on
Homelessness and Poverty. I spent three years there
involved in efforts to decriminalize homelessness,
help Hurricane Katrina victims, and enforce the
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
How did you make the move to Sidley?
While I was at the National Law Center, I worked with
Sidley on a Supreme Court brief. The firm treated us,
a pro bono client, like a Fortune 500 company. They
gave us the draft of the brief well in advance and
took our comments seriously. I realized that Sidley did
not have a pro bono counsel, unlike most big D.C.
firms. I sent a proposal explaining why Sidley needed
a pro bono counsel. After they created the position
and interviewed me, I got the job.
I was at Sidley for 10 years and had incredible
support from managing partners Carter Phillips and
Mark Hopson, as well as the firm-wide pro bono
chairs, former D.C. Bar President Ron Flagg and Jeff
Green. Sidley had four unique, firm-wide pro bono
initiatives, including one representing prisoners on
Alabama's death row. I always was proud that Sidley

28 WASHINGTON LAWYER

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MAY 2017

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represents more clients on death row than any
other firm in the country.
I also was proud that Sidley took seriously its
obligations to our community. The firm's leadership
strongly believed that, as a law firm in D.C., we
needed to help the many disadvantaged individuals denied access to justice. That's why Sidley
handled 10 cases a year from the D.C. Bar Pro Bono
Center's Advocacy & Justice Clinic, staffed the
Landlord Tenant Resource Center every month,
and participated in the Housing Right to Counsel
Pilot Project.

"I wanted to do something more,
knowing that there could be
potential shakeups in social
services and other changes that
could dramatically affect the lives
of low-income individuals in D.C."
REBECCA TROTH

What drew you to the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center?
I had worked with the Pro Bono Center for many
years and knew how good the staff was. After the
election, I wanted to do something more, knowing
that there could be potential shakeups in social
services and other changes that could dramatically

affect the lives of low-income individuals in D.C.
I knew that I would be able to do that "something
more" at the Pro Bono Center.
What would you like to achieve as the Pro Bono
Center's new executive director?
We need to do so much more to bridge the
access to justice gap. Thousands of low-income
individuals in D.C. ask for our services, and it's a
struggle to try to serve all of them. I want to
engage more lawyers, especially new lawyers, in
our work. People often are reluctant to do pro
bono work because the cases are in areas of the
law in which they are not comfortable. One thing
we do very well is provide support and training to
overcome that reservation, including comprehensive mentoring when an unanticipated issue arises.
We will be facing huge challenges in the next
few years, and the Pro Bono Center is in a good
position to meet them. We are trying to be
flexible, to adjust to the changes and figure
out the most effective responses. A big part
of that will certainly be continuing to work
with all of the wonderful legal services agencies
and law firms and lawyers in D.C. to meet the
demand for our services.

Watch the expanded interview with
Troth on the Bar's YouTube Channel.


https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYIhJnc8oUhnc7zma3EAIGoMEMmgxDH6w http://www.dcbar.org

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