Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 36

THE LEARNING CURVE
The Need Is High,
and We Need You
By Josephine Bahn
I
n this column I have shared my
experiences as a pro bono
attorney in an effort to get more
lawyers to volunteer. Now I feel
even stronger about making the
case for participation in pro bono
- from single clinic opportunities
to representation.
As of this writing, the country was on the precipice
of a housing crisis as eviction moratoria
began to evaporate. But even before the
pandemic the situation was already dire for
thousands of D.C. renters. Approximately
30,000 cases were filed annually in the
Landlord and Tenant Branch of D.C. Superior
Court, where more than 90 percent of landlords
were represented and about the same
percentage of tenants appeared pro se.
Now we're sitting on a ticking bomb of landlords
ready to file eviction actions to recoup
their costs. While I don't begrudge landlords
(or their counsel) for seeking what they are
oftentimes within their rights to do, there must
be a middle ground where all Americans are
protected. Lawyers are the ones who govern
that middle ground.
In addition to the coming flood of eviction
filings, there has been an uptick in family law
cases (divorce, domestic violence, and the
like). Legal services providers are overrun with
intakes, unable to serve every qualifying client.
Just last week my husband, Chris, got an
inquiry from a friend who said someone in
their community was turned away because
the provider could not handle another divorce
case with complex issues. To his credit, Chris
answered the call and accepted the case.
Without more willing lawyers, however, how
many clients will be turned away?
The need for pro bono lawyers will continue
to grow as evictions rise, family disputes
mount, and creditors file cases. Previously I've
written about the rewards young attorneys
can gain from doing pro bono work. I'm using
this page again to make a larger call to action
to remind lawyers why we wanted to practice
law in the first place. Our profession is a noble
one where people turn to us for help in
solving problems.
The pro bono work you do and the time you
give really does matter, and it is needed now
more than ever before. Whether it is a halt to
an eviction, a temporary restraining order
against a former spouse, or reparations from
a consumer harm, your efforts directly benefit
clients and indirectly help the community. In
addition, the skills you gain - from drafting
motions and preparing for oral arguments to
speaking before a court and negotiating with
opposing counsel - are all important and
transferrable, and they make you a better
lawyer and advocate.
Since the pandemic began, organizations have
focused on new ways to address the legal
services gap. Collaboration seems to be a key
strategy. For example, in 2020 the D.C. Bar
Pro Bono Center, the DC Affordable Law Firm,
and the Legal Aid Society of the District of
Columbia launched the Family Law Assistance
Network as a central intake system for referrals.
In March this year, the D.C. Access to Justice
Commission brought together a coalition of
District legal services providers, law firms,
and law schools to launch D.C. Represents, a
campaign to mobilize pro bono legal help for
D.C. residents hardest hit by the pandemic.
In a previous column I mentioned the
American Bar Association Young Lawyers
Division's Disaster Legal Services Program
teaming up with Paladin to launch the first
national disaster relief pro bono portal. This
portal is sortable, so would-be pro bono
36 WASHINGTON LAWYER * NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
The skills you gain are
all important and
transferrable, and they
make you a better
lawyer and advocate.
counsel can more easily find opportunities to
serve those impacted by COVID-19 as well as
any current or future natural disasters. The
website (aba.joinpaladin.com) is frequently
updated with new matters.
There are also opportunities with the D.C. Bar
Pro Bono Center to take a case, be it small
claims, landlord-tenant, family law, bankruptcy,
or other matters. The Pro Bono Center recruits,
trains, and organizes volunteer attorneys to
take on transactional and litigation-based cases
for low-income clients. There are opportunities
for you to engage as an individual or through
your firm. Visit the Pro Bono Center's website
at dcbar.org/pro-bono to find a matter that is
right for you.
" [S]imply by the nature of the work, every
lawyer gets at least one case in his lifetime that
affects him personally. This one's mine, I guess, "
said Atticus Finch - and me after every one of
my pro bono matters. The need for pro bono
legal services is so high right now. I hope you'll
join me in answering the call.
Josephine (Jo) Bahn is a senior attorney in
enforcement at the Federal Deposit Insurance
Corporation. Bahn also serves as the D.C. Bar
Under 36 Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates
and is the chair-elect of the ABA Young Lawyers
Division.
http://aba.joinpaladin.com http://www.dcbar.org/pro-bono

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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