Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 46

THE PRO BONO EFFECT
Making a Difference
Outside One's Comfort Zone
By Jeremy Conrad
G
aps in access to legal
representation can
seriously impact the
quality of life of individuals
going through
certain health challenges.
Take, for example, Mr.
Williams,* a young man
who struggles with
schizoaffective disorder,
ADHD, anxiety, and a
number of other mental
health issues.
Williams worked for a major retail
chain until his mental health conditions
worsened, leading to hospitalization,
job loss, and homelessness.
In an attempt to get back on his feet,
he sought disability benefits through
the Social Security Administration
(SSA), but he was denied twice in a
six-year period.
The story might have easily ended there if
not for the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center taking up
Williams's appeal after he was referred by the
Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. With
the help of volunteer attorney Paul J. Barringer,
Williams secured the benefits he needed to get
off the streets.
It had been a while since Barringer represented
an individual client. " I felt pretty stoked, " Barringer
says about the outcome of Williams's case.
Before he left private practice, Barringer spent
his career in the regulatory and corporate
space, where he held roles relating to health
policy, strategy, and risk management. His work
often touched on legal issues but rarely involved
litigation. In 2022, feeling that it was
46 WASHINGTON LAWYER
* MARCH/APRIL 2024
Around that time, an article in Washington
Lawyer about pro bono work
caught his attention. " I started thinking
about how I could use the skills
I have to help people who could really
use a leg up, " he says. " I know how to
read, for one thing. I'm also quite familiar
with the Social Security Act.
Even though I was hardly ever in a
courtroom, I still have foundational
skills from my time as a regulatory lawyer
- skills like writing and crafting an
argument - which I can use to help
someone. "
Barringer reached out to the D.C. Bar
Pro Bono Center, which placed him
with clients, including Williams,
through its Advocacy & Justice Clinic.
" I helped someone out on a custody
case, and I've had two recent Social
Security disability cases where
I helped clients get benefits. That's
PAUL J. BARRINGER
time to make a change, he founded Mill &
Mountain, Inc., a sustainable apparel company
selling socially conscious products made in the
United States from organic and/or recycled materials.
" Pants
aren't exactly revolutionary, and most
everyone wears them. Still, I couldn't find pants
I liked, so I decided to make my own! " Barringer
says. " As I learned more about the connection
between the global apparel industry and
forced labor, I also wanted to do something to
support U.S. manufacturing and make things
close to home. We're making items in the United
States from domestic materials like Texas
organic cotton and Montana-raised merino
wool. "
been really meaningful, " he says.
" Some of the folks I've had a chance to
assist through the pro bono program
really live on the edge, and the help
you can provide as a volunteer attorney
can be quite transformative. "
The process of representing clients with disability
claims is relatively straightforward, even if
you lack prior experience in the area, Barringer
says. " You interview the claimant, look at their
prior history, and then construct an argument, "
he explains. " That argument forms the basis for
your brief, which you prepare and file. Then,
there may be a hearing with the judge. SSA
hearings are not adverse. Still, you've got to
make a valid claim to win, which fortunately
I've been able to do. "
Importantly, volunteer attorneys get the support
they need to be successful in their pro
bono work. " The Pro Bono [Center] team provides
terrific support for attorneys who may
not have a traditional litigation background to
take on litigation or administrative matters, inCourtesy
of Paul Barringer

Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024

Notice to Members
From Our President
Calendar of Events
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Defending Diversity: Rise of DEI-Focused Practices
Will Law Firms Stay the Course on Improving Diversity?
Unlocking the Potential of Diverse Talent
We Belong: Black Students in the IP Talent Pipeline
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Her Legacy Lives on Through Us
Get to Know The Appellate Project
Speaking Up for Lawyers With Invisible Disability
Special Section: 25 Years of the Youth Law Fair
Taking the Stand
Worth Reading
Member Spotlight
On Further Review
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 4
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Notice to Members
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Defending Diversity: Rise of DEI-Focused Practices
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Will Law Firms Stay the Course on Improving Diversity?
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Unlocking the Potential of Diverse Talent
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - We Belong: Black Students in the IP Talent Pipeline
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Justice Sandra Day O’Connor: Her Legacy Lives on Through Us
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Get to Know The Appellate Project
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Speaking Up for Lawyers With Invisible Disability
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Special Section: 25 Years of the Youth Law Fair
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 35
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 36
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 43
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 45
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2024 - Cover4
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