Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 47

THE PRO BONO EFFECT
other in serving the best interests of the children. They are concerned,
committed, and searching for solutions regarding the care of the children,
but they do not have the funds to hire attorneys.
What they need and are looking for is some understanding of what the court
system has to offer, guidance on how they can put together plans for taking
care of the child/children, and, in many instances, solutions for working
together to make that happen. The children, the adults, and the community
as a whole benefit immensely from this service.

Do you have a mentor who has influenced you to serve others?
The person who inspired me most to serve others in the legal community is my
firm partner of almost 40 years, Armin Kuder, who is now retired. He has always
been committed to serving the community and making a difference in people's
lives, particularly those who cannot afford to hire attorneys. He was a mentor for
the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center for many years, even before I started. Talking with
him, I realized it was a way to truly make a difference and give back to the
Domestic Relations Branch at the court and to our community as a whole.

Marc A. Borbely
Founder, D.C. Tenants' Rights Center
Landlord-tenant law mentor since 2011
How does your expertise in housing law and your experience running the
D.C. Tenants' Rights Center help you mentor attorney volunteers at the
Advocacy & Justice Clinic?
Out of law school, I worked at a nonprofit legal services organization and
noticed that it didn't seem like there would ever be enough free lawyers to
meet the demand. I wondered, Are there other ways to make the legal system
more accessible and affordable? There are so many people out there who need
a lawyer, or at least some basic legal advice, especially in landlord-tenant court.
I started the D.C. Tenants' Rights Center with the goal of providing affordable
legal services so that more D.C. tenants can access the justice system.
I spend most of my day at the D.C. Tenants' Rights Center talking to my colleagues about their housing cases. That's similar to what I do as a housing
mentor at the Advocacy & Justice Clinic. At the clinic, I talk to attorney volunteers handling full-representation housing cases about relevant laws and procedures, and I try to be a resource for them as they evaluate, litigate, and hopefully
resolve their clients' cases.
What should D.C. Bar members know about the challenges low-income
tenants face?
There's a huge disparity between landlords and tenants when it comes to legal
representation in housing cases; 90 percent to 95 percent of landlords have
legal representation, whereas only 5 percent to 10 percent of tenants do.
Tenants in the District have significant legal protections, but if they don't know
about them or don't know how to exercise their rights, those protections are
meaningless. When a tenant has a pro bono lawyer - along with all the skills
and resources the lawyer brings - that makes a big difference. When both
sides are represented, the playing field is more even, and resolutions tend to be
more fair.
How can we change the current legal system to empower tenants?
Since there will probably never be enough pro bono or affordable lawyers to
help everyone who needs it, I'm interested in thinking about other ways to
increase access to justice. How do we help make the justice system one that can
be navigated without a lawyer?
Here are some things we could do to better address the legal needs of low- and
moderate-income District residents: (1) Involve the tenant more in day-to-day
litigation so they're better equipped to handle the situation without a lawyer
next time; (2) basic litigation options should be explained by the courts - a
tenant shouldn't have to be (or have) a lawyer to understand where to go to get
help from a judge; (3) our courts, legislators, and government agencies should
ensure that basic laws, rules, and forms are written in simple language so they
can be understood by most District residents; (4) we should follow the lead of

"When both sides are represented, the
playing field is more even, and
resolutions tend to be more fair."
MARC A. BORBELY

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APRIL 2019

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WASHINGTON LAWYER 47


http://dcbar.org

Washington Lawyer - April 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - April 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
DC Bar Practice Management Advisory Service feature
Niching Down to Build Up feature
Going Small feature
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 12
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - DC Bar Practice Management Advisory Service feature
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Niching Down to Build Up feature
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Going Small feature
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 26
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Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 33
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Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 36
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 37
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Ask the Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 48
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 49
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - 51
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - April 2019 - Cover4
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