Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 47

THE PRO BONO EFFEC T
Here, Al-Salihi shares his experiences and what drives his commitment
to pro bono service.
Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in the law?
The Gambia is one of the many countries in the world where the rule of
law isn't the well-respected, heavily developed institution that it is in
the United States. So, I grew up feeling anxious about some of the most
basic functions of civil society (getting stopped at a checkpoint,
obtaining a passport, dealing with any government authority figure
with power over me, etc.). It's crazy to find yourself in a position over
and over again where your fate depends on whether someone likes
you, and not on the rule of law. My desire to be a lawyer is a pushback
against those many experiences I had growing up.
What career path or practice area did you have in mind?
I didn't have a well-settled career path in mind when I started law
school. I saw A Civil Action and thought John Travolta was a badass,
and that sort of made me think of litigation.
How did playing soccer prepare you for being a lawyer?
Litigation involves being on a team, and for better or for worse, you'd
better get along with everybody. You're all doing different things at the
same time.
There's this huge goal at the end that you're working toward, whether
you're trying to file a brief or there's a key witness deposition where
everybody needs to get involved and figure out what's going on. While
senior folks are drafting and planning, junior lawyers are reviewing documents and telling you things that you never thought of, and you think,
"Wow, we'd better ask that question." So you've got all these different
components working together, with this great end goal in mind.
I've had that experience over and over again since I was five years old,
playing with my soccer team in The Gambia. It's a very familiar feeling.
You're doing something that seems insurmountable. We all played
barefoot on dirt fields because nobody had shoes. There were no such
things as cleats, shin guards, or all that fancy stuff. But it was your team.
Everybody had a different role, everybody had to do it really well, and
you had to trust that everybody was going to do it well. The team mentality carries over to litigating. The only difference is now I'm plugging
away in my office.
How did you first become involved with the D.C. Bar Pro Bono
Center?
Alex Yabroff and Lou Fisher, two great lawyers and colleagues of mine,
roped me into attending the Saturday Advice & Referral Clinic when
I started at Jones Day. The experience was all-consuming. I was providing people with solutions that had real, immediate impact on their
lives. I've been heavily involved with this clinic ever since. Jones Day is
generous enough to dedicate substantial resources and human hours
to the clinic.

believe was a wealthy industrialist. The industrialist had died many years
ago. The heir had died about a month before the clinic. The client spent
years caring for the heir after his family had allegedly neglected him. It
looked like before his death the heir wrote a codicil bequeathing most
of his assets to his housekeeper. We provided her with the tools and
advice she needed to ensure the proper administration of this will in
probate court.
The Pro Bono Center provides expert subject-area mentors at the
Advice & Referral Clinic. How does this add to your experience as
a clinic volunteer meeting with clients?
These mentors provide an invaluable service to the community. It is
only with their expertise that volunteers can accurately guide hundreds
of people each month along the winding road that our legal system
puts in front of them.
What have you learned about the need for pro bono legal assistance in the District of Columbia, or about the clients we serve?
Did anything surprise you?
The most surprising thing to me? Our legal system is designed to
benefit everyone, but the least fortunate members of our community
struggle the most because the laws are complicated, and without
sound legal advice it's very easy to forfeit what would otherwise have
been theirs. We could be talking about any area of law here: housing,
bankruptcy, probate, etc. It's ironic because the less financially fortunate
must sometimes feel like they live in a land that's akin to the lawless
frontier where I grew up. It is our duty, as the privileged members of
this society, as those who are highly educated and granted a license to
practice law, to serve the less fortunate without casting judgment or
making assumptions.
What are the personal or professional benefits of pro bono service?
In terms of the more immediate professional benefits, you get hands-on
experience litigating. You get a ton of experience taking depositions,
doing discovery, settling claims, and standing up in court that you
wouldn't easily get as a junior associate on a huge antitrust case, for
example.
So, you get a lot of skills-based benefits. But for a lot of people, I think
what drew them to law school and practicing law had some element
of what's often encompassed within pro bono work, which is helping
people out who really need help. It feels good. That's on the personal
side.
What advice would you give to other D.C. Bar members who are
interested in pro bono service?
If you're interested in serving the community, reach out to the D.C. Bar
Pro Bono Center. The Saturday walk-in Advice & Referral Clinic is a great
one to start with. Not only will you serve the community, but you'll
meet the great crowd of folks who staff the clinic.

Are there any clients or matters you've handled that stand out
for you?
A client who spoke only Spanish needed help figuring out how to
navigate the probate process for a will in the District. So, a Spanishspeaking volunteer and I sat down with this client and looked at the
documents she brought with her. After some digging and questioning,
we learned that she had been the housekeeper of the heir to whom we

If your law firm is interested in learning more about volunteer
opportunities with the Advice & Referral Clinic or the Landlord Tenant
Resource Center, please send an email to probono@dcbar.org.

MAY 2020

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WASHINGTON LAWYER 47



Washington Lawyer - May 2020

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

LETTER TO MEMBERS ON COVID-19 CRISIS
FROM OUR PRESIDENT
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
ABA DELEGATE’S CORNER
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
REVOLUTIONIZING THE BUSINESS OF LAW
DIGITAL JUSTICE
ADVANCING THE HUMAN RIGHTS C AUSE ACROSS BORDERS
TAKING THE STAND
ON FURTHER REVIEW
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
WORTH READING
ATTORNEY BRIEFS
SPEAKING OF ETHICS
DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
THE PRO BONO EFFECT
SPECIAL SECTION: THE REVOLUTIONARY C RYSTAL EASTMAN
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 4
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - LETTER TO MEMBERS ON COVID-19 CRISIS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - FROM OUR PRESIDENT
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - PRACTICE MANAGEMENT
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 8
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - ABA DELEGATE’S CORNER
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - REVOLUTIONIZING THE BUSINESS OF LAW
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - DIGITAL JUSTICE
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - ADVANCING THE HUMAN RIGHTS C AUSE ACROSS BORDERS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 26
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - TAKING THE STAND
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - ON FURTHER REVIEW
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 36
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - WORTH READING
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 40
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - ATTORNEY BRIEFS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - SPEAKING OF ETHICS
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 43
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - DISCIPLINARY SUMMARIES
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 45
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - THE PRO BONO EFFECT
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - SPECIAL SECTION: THE REVOLUTIONARY C RYSTAL EASTMAN
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 50
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - 52
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - May 2020 - Cover4
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