Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 25

FEATURE
Jess Davis-Ricci
Whitman-Walker Health
outset, so Chung
relied on the
expertise of
Walker, who specializes
in bankruptcy
law at
Webster &
Fredrickson, PLLC.
" Without her
guidance, this
case would have
fallen apart from
the start, " Chung
says. " The biggest
thing I liked
about Natalie was
how she was
patient with me
throughout the entire process. While she is meticulous and exceptionally
smart, her calm and friendly demeanor gave me the support to endure a
difficult bankruptcy case, " says Chung.
Walker teaches volunteer attorneys the ins and outs of the bankruptcy
process, including advising them on what questions to ask during the
initial consultation, walking them through the voluntary petition and
schedules, telling them what to expect at the meeting of creditors, and
helping them explain the discharge process to clients.
" When the national public health emergency is lifted, so many individuals
are going to be facing even greater financial hardship. It's important
that we train as many attorneys as we can to complete a Chapter 7 bankruptcy
case, " says Walker.
The same is true for Social Security cases, says Whitman-Walker Health
staff attorney and pro bono mentor Jess Davis-Ricci. " I love giving the
knowledge I have to anyone who can help this client community, " says
Davis-Ricci, who was raised by a single mother in a low-income neighborhood
and understands firsthand the many barriers and challenges
pro bono clients face. " I'm preparing someone to do their best for this
person who needs the help so much. "
Among the attorneys Davis-Ricci has mentored are Hannah Rose Elson,
an associate at Morrison & Foerster LLP, and Jackson Myers, a former
summer associate at the firm and current district court law clerk. With
Davis-Ricci's expert mentorship, both recently helped a client appeal the
denial of her disability benefits application.
Myers says he and Elson benefited from Davis-Ricci as a subject-specific
expert who was generous with both their time and energy. " It wasn't a
chore to answer our questions. As I gain seniority and experience, I definitely
want to take that attitude of joyfully helping others, " says Myers.
Beyond explaining the law and filing procedures, mentors pass on to
volunteers the soft skills necessary to work with clients. Many cases
require a level of empathy, understanding, and patience from the volunteers
to be there both legally and emotionally for their clients. Mentors
also help them make the connection.
Ashley Graham-Watanabe, managing attorney for the Neighborhood
Legal Services Program's Brief Services Unit, says the attorneys she
coached recently had one of the most challenging cases she's been
assigned before. The opposing party was difficult to handle, requiring
Graham-Watanabe to focus her mentoring more on teaching communication
skills, less on the law.
" I truly think the law is the easiest part of being a pro bono attorney, "
says Graham-Watanabe, who specializes in housing conditions cases. " It's
the soft skills that you don't learn until you're doing it. I have been connected
to legal services for 13 years now. So, while I'm not an expert, I've
developed strategies not only for dealing with difficult opposing parties
or clients, but also the self-care that you need so you can continue as
best as possible. "
Chung agrees. During his bankruptcy case, Chung says he had to be
empathetic and delicate in communicating with the client about sensitive
financial information during a stressful time. " It was a huge challenge
trying to be considerate of the client, but at the same time getting the
information straightened out. It hits you on a personal level. "
GAINING EXPERIENCE WHILE CHANGING LIVES
One of the benefits of pro bono work is it affords attorneys the opportunity
to try a new area of the law and serve a different client base. That's
what Ejaz Baluch Jr. and Julia Quinn, both employment litigation attorneys
with the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, were
looking for when they volunteered to work on a housing conditions case
through the Pro Bono Center. (Federal employees volunteer in their
personal capacity.)
" We learned that pro bono attorneys were in [high] need for these cases,
and we wanted to see if we could be helpful before the eviction moratorium
was lifted, " says Quinn, a University of Texas School of Law graduate.
Connected to the Pro Bono Center's Advocacy & Justice Clinic through
the Federal Government Pro Bono Program, Baluch and Quinn represented
a single mom whose landlord refused to make necessary repairs
to her home. The client was dealing with a leaking roof, rodent infestations,
and a child's bedroom window that was shattered from a drive-by
shooting, among other issues. After the complaint was filed, an inspection
later revealed a total of 56 code violations.
" We've been going back and
forth with the landlord to try to
impress upon her to follow the
court orders, " says Baluch, a
former middle school teacher
in Baltimore who earned his JD
from the George Washington
University Law School.
" Because of the landlord's
inaction, the court has twice
awarded rent abatement for
the month of June and partial
[abatement] for the month of
July because repairs had
started. "
Jackson Myers
U.S. District Court for the District
of Columbia
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
There are more hearings to
come, but the duo is proud of
the help they've been able to
* WASHINGTON LAWYER 25

Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021

Letter to Members
From Our President
Calendar of Events
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Reforming Conservatorship: A Battle Over Best Interests
Legal Deserts: No-Man’s Land of Affordable Legal Help
The Unfinished Work of Equal Justice for All
Pro Bono Mentoring for High-Impact Help
The Afghanistan Fallout: Broken Promises & Processes
Taking the Stand
ABA Delegate’s Corner
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Speaking of Ethics
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 4
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Letter to Members
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Reforming Conservatorship: A Battle Over Best Interests
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 11
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 12
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 13
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Legal Deserts: No-Man’s Land of Affordable Legal Help
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 15
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 16
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 17
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 18
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 19
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - The Unfinished Work of Equal Justice for All
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 21
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 22
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 23
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Pro Bono Mentoring for High-Impact Help
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 25
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 26
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 27
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - The Afghanistan Fallout: Broken Promises & Processes
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 29
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 30
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 31
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 33
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - ABA Delegate’s Corner
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 37
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 39
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 40
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 41
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 43
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 46
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 47
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 49
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 50
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 51
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 52
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 53
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 55
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - Cover4
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