Washington Lawyer - November/December 2021 - 48

SPEAKING OF ETHICS
The Path to Pro Bono Service
By Nakia L. Matthews
A
rturo Attorney is a secondyear
associate at a large law
firm in the District. Now that
he has settled into life at the
firm, he would like to do some pro
bono work. Although it does not
have an official pro bono program,
his firm does allow attorneys to
engage in pro bono service. Arturo
talks to some of his colleagues, and
Lilly Lawyer, another second-year
associate, agrees to co-counsel a
case with him. Together they
approach a local nonprofit.
The nonprofit assigns the case of Cathy Client
to Arturo, Lilly, and a mentor. Cathy has a
housing voucher and rents an apartment,
but the landlord wants to evict her without
cause. The mentor has an emergency and is
unavailable to assist Arturo and Lilly until next
week. However, they need to file an answer,
which is due tomorrow. Luckily, the nonprofit
also provides Arturo and Lilly with a training
manual, sample pleadings, and training videos.
They review the videos and samples and draft
an answer, which another lawyer at the nonprofit
reviews in the mentor's absence.
During Arturo's regular check-in with his supervisor,
Arturo tells him that he has taken on a
pro bono housing matter, and the supervising
attorney is immediately concerned because
the firm represents several landlords. Occasionally,
the firm represents the District of Columbia
government, and Cathy receives her housing
voucher from a D.C. government agency. After
completing a conflicts check, the supervising
attorney approves the case, but cautions Lilly
and Arturo about taking on any future representations,
including pro bono cases, without
prior approval from the firm.
With the ongoing support of their mentor,
Arturo and Lilly successfully settle the case.
The nonprofit is so pleased with the quality of
Cathy's representation that it asks Arturo and
Lilly to represent a new client. Unfortunately,
Lilly cannot take on a second case at this time.
Arturo is not sure he can dedicate the time for
another significant pro bono representation on
his own.
However, he thinks he could at least advise the
client, draft the initial documents for the client
to file pro se, and perhaps even negotiate
with the other side, without making a formal
appearance. Arturo gets approval from the
nonprofit to provide these limited services and
is assigned the case. After meeting with the
client and receiving informed consent to the
limited representation, Arturo begins work on
the matter.
HOW LAWYERS CAN HELP
The commitment to providing pro bono
service is a long-standing tradition among
District of Columbia lawyers. D.C. Rule of
Professional Conduct 6.1 encourages lawyers
to " participate in serving those persons, or
groups of persons, who are unable to pay all or
a portion of reasonable attorney's fees or who
are otherwise unable to obtain counsel. " There
are different ways that lawyers can assist with
access to justice. They can donate money to
nonprofits that provide pro bono or low bono
representation. Lawyers can also provide direct
representation to clients, ranging from individuals
to nonprofits to small businesses. The
scope of direct representation has become
flexible to increase opportunities for lawyers to
represent clients, and for clients to be able to
receive much-needed legal services. Lawyers
48 WASHINGTON LAWYER * NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2021
may also choose to volunteer in an area of
the law they are familiar with, or venture into
a new area.
DEVELOPING COMPETENCY
A pro bono lawyer is required to abide by all
the Rules of Professional Conduct, including
those that require competence and diligence.
Rule 1.1 states:
(a) A lawyer shall provide competent representation
to a client. Competent representation
requires the legal knowledge,
skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably
necessary for the representation.
(b) A lawyer shall serve a client with skill and
care commensurate with that generally
afforded to clients by other lawyers in
similar matters.
Importantly, Comment [2] clarifies that " [a]
lawyer need not necessarily have special
training or prior experience to handle legal
problems of a type with which the lawyer is
unfamiliar. A newly admitted lawyer can be
as competent as a practitioner with long
experience. " 1
The good news is that the District of Columbia
has many nonprofits and legal services providers
that have the infrastructure to support
volunteer lawyers regardless of their experience
level. These entities ensure that volunteers
have the preparation and support they
need to become competent to provide representation
in specific areas such as housing,
family law, consumer law, and beyond.
The nonprofit in this example demonstrated
multiple ways to help pro bono lawyers develop
competency. First, Arturo and Lilly were
provided with a mentor who was available as a
resource throughout the case. Second, when
the mentor was unavailable, the organization
provided a temporary mentor to review documents
and assist the lawyers. Lastly, the

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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