Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 19

FEATURE
attorney for the Advocacy & Justice Clinic. " We're trying to undo or
reverse judgments for them. So, this is a small-scale project in terms
of clients that we serve, but the impact is huge. "
In the District of Columbia, a writ of restitution - the legal document
from D.C. Superior Court that authorizes a landlord to take possession of
a rental unit from a tenant - is valid for 75 calendar days. Tenants have
a minimum of three weeks' notice of the eviction date. If being evicted
due to nonpayment of rent, a tenant has the right to pay the total
amount owed within the notice period to redeem the tenancy and
avoid eviction.
With the writ quashing project, the Advocacy & Justice Clinic obtains
the list of writs from USMS and sends an outreach letter to every tenant
on the list. Volunteer attorneys assist clients in applying for emergency
rental financial assistance or filing a motion to vacate a default judgment,
a motion for a new trial, or a motion for relief from the judgment.
" Many tenants received default judgments because they didn't appear in
court for their cases, " Gottshall says. " In some cases, the tenants alleged
that they didn't even know about their cases . . . so they didn't show up
for their hearing. "
Pro bono attorneys must move quickly to quash these writs. " We usually
have to move within a week or two because we have to file paperwork
with the court, get a hearing, and get before the court before the eviction
occurs, " Gottshall says.
Jillian Feirson, an associate at Covington & Burling LLP, helped a client
cancel his eviction just a few weeks before the omicron surge last winter.
" He ended up contracting COVID during that time. Thankfully, he was
able to remain in his home while he was sick. He also had applied for
rental assistance, so that allowed him to pay some of the past-due rent, "
says Feirson.
In some cases, tenants were being evicted for alleged lease violations
such as having an unauthorized pet or an unauthorized occupant, or for
making excessive noise. " Sometimes the allegations are quite vague, "
Gottshall says. " But the idea is that they're violating the tenancy in some
way. "
A NONADVERSARIAL SOLUTION
Whether it's buying time for clients to receive emergency rental assistance
or finding other ways to quash the writ, Washington says that
the first step is reaching out to the landlord's legal team. " It's advocacy
without being adversarial because my client is already in a delicate position, "
she says. " Of course, the landlords want their funds. There are a lot
of small landlords who went without being paid throughout the
pandemic or were paid only through assistance from STAY DC. "
Launched in April 2021, STAY DC was a financial assistance program for
D.C. renters and housing providers to help them cover housing and utilities
expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic. STAY DC ended in October
2021, allocating more than $352 million in emergency rental assistance to
an estimated 50,000 households.
" Throwing shade at landlords' attorneys when landlords are already
visibly upset never helps because some of them are losing their own
homes because they could not afford their mortgages due to lost
revenue from unpaid rent, " Washington says. " You have to have empathy
on all sides and come to an agreement that is mutually beneficial where
your client can remain in their home. "
Washington says she worked with STAY DC and Housing Counseling
Services, a nonprofit that works to prevent homelessness, to secure relief
funds for her clients, negotiating to " make sure these families did not
lose their homes and guiding them in which way to go. I helped to
empower them to save their homes. "
After referrals to the Eviction Writ Quashing Program slowed over the
past few months, the Pro Bono Center decided to merge the project
with the Landlord Tenant Legal Assistance Network, a collaboration with
five other legal services providers in the District to create a single point
of entry for District residents seeking legal help in housing matters.
Washington, meanwhile, has recruited colleagues at Cleary to volunteer
with the writ quashing project, guiding them through the process. " What
I would say to any brand-new attorney who has never been in front of a
judge before is to take a deep breath, " she says. " You are here to empower
your client to fight for their home. It is extremely rewarding, but it can also
be heartbreaking. So, be prepared for that. "
D.C. Bar staff writer John Murph can be reached at jmurph@dcbar.org.
GWEN WASHINGTON
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Interested in representing a client facing eviction? Contact Adrian
Gottshall at agottshall@dcbar.org.
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
* WASHINGTON LAWYER 19
iStock
Patrice Gilbert Photography

Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022

Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
Planting the Seeds: Pro Bono Helps Nonprofits Flourish
A Primer on D.C.’s New Debt Collection Law
Eviction Writ Quashing: Last Line of Defense for Tenants
Employment Law Implications of Dobbs
How Immigration Can Help Solve the U.S. Pilot Shortage
Ten Things You Might Have Forgotten Since the Pandemic
SPECIAL SECTION Young Lawyers Bring Passion to Public Interest Work
Attorney Briefs
Taking the Stand
Disciplinary Summaries
On Further Review
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Speaking of Ethics
The Learning Curve
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 4
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 6
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Planting the Seeds: Pro Bono Helps Nonprofits Flourish
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 11
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 12
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 13
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - A Primer on D.C.’s New Debt Collection Law
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 15
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 16
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 17
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Eviction Writ Quashing: Last Line of Defense for Tenants
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 19
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Employment Law Implications of Dobbs
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 21
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - How Immigration Can Help Solve the U.S. Pilot Shortage
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 23
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 24
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 25
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Ten Things You Might Have Forgotten Since the Pandemic
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 27
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 28
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 29
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - SPECIAL SECTION Young Lawyers Bring Passion to Public Interest Work
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 31
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 32
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 35
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 37
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 39
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 41
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 43
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 45
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 48
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 49
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 50
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 51
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - Cover4
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