Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 46

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
Harding went home and threw out her
graduate school applications. At that moment,
she hadn't yet sorted out her next step, but
Harding says she later realized that a legal education might provide her the tools to work
at fixing the problems she saw rather than
just studying them. Harding enrolled at George--
town University Law Center, and within a
month of starting law school she met Patty
Mullahy Fugere, executive director of the
Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.
Harding interned with the organization
shortly afterward.

BATTLING FOR THE VULNERABLE
Seventeen years later, she's still working at the
clinic and still struggling with society's bias
against the community she represents. "There
are many cases in which, for example, a family
is denied shelter. I'll email the supervisor of the
intake worker and repeat the same claims my
clients raised with them and get a different
outcome. Why does a lawyer saying something
make a difference? It's hard to feel like you are
part of a system in which my voice can be
heard but not theirs," Harding says.
Representing the homeless means often
engaging in quixotic battles, fights Harding
says are all the more frustrating due to their
connection to basic notions of human dignity.
Following the 2018 closure of D.C. General, a
former hospital that had been repurposed as
a homeless shelter, Harding was involved in
negotiations relating to the design of new
facilities.
Harding and her clients argued for private
bathrooms for families. City officials were set
on the notion of communal bathrooms and
eating spaces. "It was one of the campaigns
that hurt me the most," Harding says. "I'd ask
whether the situation was one they'd want for
their families. Would they want to live someplace where they share a bathroom with a
bunch of people? We went through the safety

46 WASHINGTON LAWYER

*

John Jai

"I hated it at first. I didn't know what I was
doing, but I felt all this pressure to help people.
I thought I was terrible at it," says Harding.
"Then I hit some point after a couple of weeks
where I realized that even if I was bad at it,
I was still helping people more than if they had
no one. I gave up on my perfectionism because
you can't be a perfectionist as a legal services
lawyer. Once I embraced that, I started to
realize how important it was for me to do
the work."

"It's rewarding to see
our policy and advocacy
work result in real
and lasting change
for our clients."
concerns, talked about assaults in bathrooms
... the response was ambivalent. It was just
depressing. It was hard for me to go to the D.C.
Council afterward and feel that they even
cared. It's hard to bounce back from that."
Harding finds some comfort in the relationships
she's built with her clients. "They trust me
enough to invite me into their lives, hold their
babies, share a meal. Every time someone gets
into permanent affordable housing, I can hear
the relief and joy in their voice," she says.
"For a few clients I've been able to negotiate
monetary settlements large enough to change
their futures, where for the first time they have
enough money to feel secure. That's been
incredibly rewarding."
Nearly all of Harding's clients are people
of color. They have little money, and many
struggle with disabilities. They have a history

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

of limited access to quality education, food, or
health care. Their experiences have often left
them skeptical of offers of help. "Whether due
to systemic racism, classism, able-ism, or some
combination of these ... by the time they
come to us, many have already learned that
most institutions, including the courts and
political system, are not blind or unbiased,"
Harding says. "I have worked with some very
tenacious clients and affected community
members, though, who push through all of
these barriers and manage to fight for others'
needs as well as their own."

PROGRESS AT THE POLICY LEVEL
Together with the personal gratification she
receives from her work, her professional
accomplishments help drive Harding forward.
"It's rewarding to see our policy and advocacy
work result in real and lasting change for our
clients, whether it's money for affordable
housing or public housing repairs ... whether
it's seeing new rights or [previous] protections
enshrined in the law. There's also something
pretty cool about taking cases to enforce laws
I've helped write, where I can basically give
a firsthand account of the legislative history
to inform a judge's interpretation."
Early in her career, Harding and others were
successful in creating the D.C. Office of
Disability Rights, and she has worked on legislation that resulted in structural changes that
improve her clients' ability to access justice.



Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Family Law Assistance Network feature
An Avalanche of Evictions feature
Pro Bono Partnerships Forged in Crisis feature
Help for Pro Se Litigants Feature
Qualified Immunity feature
Taking Legal Support to the Streets feature
Taking the Stand Turning off the White Noise of Systemic Racism
Taking the Stand Situational Principles Aren't Really Principles
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
Member Spotlight - A. Benjamin Spencer
Member Spotlight - Amber Harding
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 7
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Family Law Assistance Network feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 12
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - An Avalanche of Evictions feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Pro Bono Partnerships Forged in Crisis feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Help for Pro Se Litigants Feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Qualified Immunity feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 32
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking Legal Support to the Streets feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 36
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking the Stand Turning off the White Noise of Systemic Racism
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking the Stand Situational Principles Aren't Really Principles
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Member Spotlight - A. Benjamin Spencer
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Member Spotlight - Amber Harding
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 46
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 50
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 54
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 57
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 58
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 59
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 60
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 61
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 62
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 63
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 64
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 65
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 66
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 67
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover4
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/novemberdecember2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/septemberoctober2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2020
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2019
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June/July2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/March2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/February2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2018
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/November2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september 2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/july2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/february2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2017
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/december2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2016/
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2016
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2016
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com