Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 14

of Professional Conduct 6.1 encourages lawyers
to provide at least 50 hours of pro bono legal
service annually, and for large firms to dedicate
3 percent to 5 percent of their billable hours to
pro bono work each year.
What became clear to D.C. Bar leaders as pro
bono needs grew in the 1980s and 1990s was
that a key constituency was missing: federal
government lawyers. The federal workforce is
marbled with attorneys, paralegals, and legal
assistants, but they were largely untapped for
pro bono service in the District.
"Lawyers who are federal employees are no
different than other lawyers in recognizing their
obligations to the community," says Jamie

Gorelick, a former D.C. Bar president and the
deputy U.S. attorney general who helped
implement federal pro bono initiatives during
the Clinton administration. "Federal attorneys
were clear that they wanted to be able to help
in the same way that lawyers in the private
sector could help."
And serve they would. Federal attorneys have
populated countless clinics and represented
thousands of people in the last 25 years. Pro
bono work connects them in an intimate way
to clients, making them real and more than an
abstraction.
"I believe many of us in government are in jobs
where, although we very much believe in the

PASSIONATE
ABOUT PRO BONO
Catalina Martinez

C

atalina Martinez is clear that she loves
her career at the U.S. Small Business
Administration (SBA), but her personal
calling is helping disadvantaged people
maintain the most basic connection to
daily life, such as keeping a roof over their
heads.
Martinez, who is the SBA's pro bono coordinator, is so passionate about pro bono work
she even took her fiancé on their second
date to visit a pro bono client. She is the
2018 recipient of the Washington Council of
Lawyers' Government Pro Bono Award and
the 2018 recipient of the D.C. Housing Right
to Counsel Project's Outstanding Pro Bono
Service Award.
"If you're doing pro bono as a federal
employee, it's because you care. There's no
ulterior motive," says Martinez. "At the end of
the day, your heart is really in the right place."
Martinez helped establish the SBA's Pro
Bono Committee, which launched in 2018,

14

WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

and works to recruit SBA attorneys to participate. In the last year, SBA volunteers
have accepted four cases for representation
and volunteered for numerous slots at Pro
Bono Center clinics.
Martinez is a frequent volunteer at the Pro
Bono Center's Small Business Brief Advice
Legal Clinic and Advocacy & Justice Clinic,
where she handles mostly landlord-tenant
disputes. Martinez says her fluency in
Spanish helps put many of her pro bono
clients at ease.
"Landlord and tenant court is really not
sexy," says Martinez. "Nobody thinks about
it. But if you're about to be evicted, it's
probably because everything else in your
life is down the drain. Our clients are going
through so many other issues. This is just
the tip of the iceberg."
For clients in such precarious situations,
access to a lawyer is nothing short of a
lifeline.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019

importance of our work, we don't always see
a tangible result," says Richard B. Foley, the
pro bono coordinator for the Federal Deposit
Insurance Corporation (FDIC). "I know our work
benefits consumers in general, but it's a little
different when you're sitting in front of a person
who is facing eviction and you're helping him
draft a pleading to keep him in his house."

A SEISMIC SHIFT
The notion of engaging federal attorneys in pro
bono service had been a topic of government
discussion since the 1970s. Early administrations
had made some inroads, but there were always
impediments to moving forward: the lack of a
high-level champion, questions of stewardship of
taxpayer dollars, and potential conflicts of interest.
It was a two-paragraph executive order issued
by President Bill Clinton that allowed the government pro bono movement to finally take
hold. Clinton signed Executive Order 12988 in
1996, mandating that federal agencies develop,
facilitate, and encourage pro bono service "to
improve access to justice for all persons." Yet,
the executive order only addressed the first
hurdle - finding a champion.
"The Office of Legal Policy thought it would
be a good idea and consistent with the mission
of federal employees that they be able to
donate their time outside of work, as long as
the American people were getting their value,"
says Gorelick, now a partner at Wilmer Cutler
Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP. "They discussed the
idea with [then] Attorney General Janet Reno,
and then we discussed it with the White House.
The idea was popular and rolled out with volunteer service."
The second hurdle, protecting taxpayer assets,
was addressed by the U.S. Office of Government
Ethics, which issued an opinion outlining the
parameters for federal pro bono work. The
opinion authorized government attorneys
to use office products, telephones, and fax
machines, as long as the expense was minimal.
It also allowed for the granting of administrative
leave to attend court hearings or conferences
during work hours. In effect, the opinion
opened the door for any agency interested
in instituting a pro bono program.
Armed with these two key building blocks,
the Justice Department fashioned its Policy
Statement on Pro Bono Legal and Volunteer
Services, which would serve as a model for
other federal agencies. Today, most departments and agencies have their own policies,



Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Going Above and Beyond feature
On Safer Ground feature
Casa Ruby Profile
Pro Bono Effect
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Going Above and Beyond feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 14
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - On Safer Ground feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Casa Ruby Profile
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 28
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 34
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 36
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 38
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 46
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover3
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