Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 54

THE PRO BONO EFFECT
D.C. Represents Rallies
Pro Bono Community
By John Murph
A
fter more than a year of
disruption and loss, Washing
ton, D.C., is beginning to
show signs of a slow return
to normalcy, starting with eased
restrictions on public gatherings.
D.C. public schools are expected
to fully reopen in the fall, many
offices are preparing for their
employees' eventual return to their
physical workspaces, and shops
and restaurants downtown are
eager for business to pick up again.
For D.C. residents living on a low income,
however, recovery will be much slower. The
COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the economic
insecurity that has gripped the city's vulnerable
population even before the pandemic.
Approximately 13 percent of the District's
705,749 residents live in poverty, and now their
stability and safety are even more in peril.
The D.C. Access to Justice Commission reports
that 43.1 percent of Black tenants and 63.8
percent of Latino tenants have little or no
confidence in their ability to pay rent. And
when the moratorium on residential evictions
is lifted, the number of eviction filings is
expected to rise substantially. The vast majority
of individuals at risk of losing their homes will
appear in court without counsel, the commission
says.
" The COVID-19 crisis has worsened a civil justice
crisis that our District neighbors faced even
before the pandemic, " says commission chair
Peter Edelman. " The commitment of pro bono
54 WASHINGTON LAWYER * JULY/AUGUST 2021
lawyers to help meet the extraordinary need
right here in our community is absolutely
essential. "
ANTICIPATING A SURGE IN EVICTIONS
Recognizing the coming eviction crisis, the D.C.
Access to Justice Commission has formed D.C.
Represents, a coalition of local legal services
providers, law firms, and law schools to
mobilize pro bono legal help for D.C. residents
hardest hit by the pandemic. Members of the
coalition, including the D.C. Bar Pro Bono
Center, pledge to deploy pro bono resources
to those in need of legal assistance in areas
such as eviction, domestic violence, debt and
consumer protection, child custody, wills and
probate, and access to unemployment insurance
and other public benefits. So far, more
than 30 firms and organizations have joined
the campaign.
James J. Sandman, vice chair of the commission,
says between 75 percent and 97 percent
of D.C. residents have appeared in court
without a lawyer for legal issues that could
have disastrous consequences on their lives.
" We aim to change that, " Sandman says.
Paul Lee, pro bono counsel at Steptoe &
Johnson LLP, one of the firms that pledged
support for D.C. Represents, says evictions are
just one of several issues that low-income
residents are battling in courts. " We're seeing
landlords who are refusing to make repairs,
landlords who are harassing their tenants, "
Lee says.
When the eviction moratorium is lifted, Lee
says the firm's pro bono lawyers will work with
tenant clients to help them negotiate settlements
or agreements with their landlords.
" Landlords, hopefully, will be willing to listen to
their tenants and work out a payment plan or
some sort of discounted rent so that tenants
can at least keep their housing. "
PAUL LEE
Steptoe & Johnson LLP
In April, Mayor
Muriel Bowser
launched
Stronger
Together by
Assisting You
(STAY DC), a
$350 million
assistance
program to
help D.C.
tenants pay
back rent and
utility bills
because of
pandemic-related circumstances. Eligible residents
who want to access the program and
other financial aid resources may require some
legal help navigating the confusing paperwork.
" We want to help people right now access
those funds, working through some of the confusing
aspects of the program, and get the
word out there that these funds exist, " Lee says.
Bowser herself lauded the work of D.C. Represents,
saying pro bono legal services will be
essential to the city's recovery. " We know that
when people are represented by counsel, they
are much more likely to succeed, " Bowser said
in March.
KEEPING THE MOMENTUM GOING
The rise in domestic violence during the
pandemic is another concern that D.C.
Represents wants to address. DV LEAP, the
Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and
Appeals Project, saw applications for legal assistance
go up by 33 percent by October 2020.
Through D.C. Represents, Hogan Lovells has
increased its pro bono efforts to assist survivors
of domestic abuse, says Blair Decker, senior pro
bono attorney at the firm. Hogan Lovells is also
recruiting attorneys from its offices outside the
Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Election Coverage
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
A Conversation with Chad Sarchio feature
Ready for Reentry feature
LSC's Ron Flagg feature
Leadership Academy feature
DC Bar Annual Report
DC Bar Budget
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
ABA Delegate's Corner
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Speaking of Ethics
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 1
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 2
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 3
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Election Coverage
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - A Conversation with Chad Sarchio feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 11
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 12
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 13
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Ready for Reentry feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 15
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 16
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 17
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - LSC's Ron Flagg feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 19
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 20
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 21
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Leadership Academy feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 23
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 24
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - DC Bar Annual Report
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 26
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 27
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 28
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 29
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 30
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 31
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 32
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 33
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 34
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 35
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 36
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - DC Bar Budget
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 39
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - ABA Delegate's Corner
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 43
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 45
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 47
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 50
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 52
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 53
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 55
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Cover4
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2021
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/marchapril2021
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/marchapril2021
http://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/novemberdecember2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/novemberdecember2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/septemberoctober2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2020
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/october2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/september2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/julyaugust2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/june2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/may2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/march2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/january2019
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/november2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/august2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/June/July2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/april2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/March2018
https://washingtonlawyer.dcbar.org/February2018
https://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