Washington Lawyer - November/December 2022 - 41

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
inspired him to think outside the box. It was
also during this time that he met Rick Eisen,
who would later become his professional
partner at his firm.
Before launching Eisen and Rome in 1988,
Rome was at University Legal Services working
on housing advocacy cases when he discovered
a pattern of false rent control exemption
claims for properties involving U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development loans.
Eisen was working on similar cases. When they
combined notes, they decided the matter was
too big for either of them to handle and turned
over the evidence to the U.S. Attorney's Office
for the District of Columbia.
" It ended up in a criminal prosecution, where
several people [who] were ripping off the federal
government and tenants went to jail; it was
a big scandal in the '80s, " Rome recalls. " In D.C.,
we were kind of behind the scenes; we did not
get any credit for it. "
Eisen says that he and Rome had similar
approaches to representing clients, which
made for an ideal partnership. " We focused on
determining what the client wanted to accomplish,
and then trying to figure out realistic,
practical, cost-efficient ways to meet those
goals, " Eisen says. " We saw that many lawyers
were complicators who never seemed to get
to satisfactory results. We saw ourselves as
simplifiers. "
Since its inception, their firm has represented
more than 250 tenant associations, more than
25 nonprofit housing developers, and more
than 75 cooperatives and condominiums. In
addition to housing, the firm specializes in real
estate, business formation and dissolution, and
civil litigation matters.
" When we decided to merge our solo practices,
we did not set out to become a larger firm or
to make a lot of money, " Eisen says. " We shared
the commitment to be essentially a public
interest law firm in a small firm structure. Eric
became the primary litigator, and we both
handled transactional work. This approach,
seasoned by so many years of experience, is
what I attribute to Eric's exceptional value as
a housing lawyer. "
THE WORK JUST GOT HARDER
Gentrification, abusive and neglectful landlords,
and the economy are some of the things
that are making his job harder as a housing
attorney, Rome says.
" I do not think we have had such a sustained
period where inflation has had such a negative
impact, " he says. Under rent control law, the
District allows rent increases based on the
Consumer Price Index (CPI). " [For] as long as
I can remember, the CPI was running around
1 or 2 percent. So, tenants were getting rent
increases that they [could] handle, " Rome
says. " This year, due to inflation, the CPI was
4.2 percent. As of May 1, virtually every rentcontrolled
tenant in the District . . . got a rent
increase notice for [4.2 or] 6.2 percent. "
His firm has been flooded with calls from D.C.
residents asking if the increase is legal. " And we
have to say, 'Yes, it is legal. And there is nothing
we can do about it,' " Rome says.
" It is much harder to do affordable housing
deals, given the current economy, " Rome says.
That keeps me up nights - that and figuring
out what I am going to do for a particular client
who is counting on me. "
All this has only fueled Rome's passion for pro
bono work, lending his litigation experience
and expertise to prepare pro bono attorneys
to represent their clients and help them navigate
Washington, D.C.'s often convoluted
housing laws. " Landlord-tenant law in D.C. is
very arcane, " he says. " It has its own lingo. It has
its own practice and its own procedures, and
D.C. has more tenant protection laws than any
jurisdiction in terms of common law, case law,
and statutory law. "
Rome says that his greatest satisfaction as a
volunteer has been the " mutual learning experience
and the exchanges in working with pro
bono counsel " in housing cases.
" I have devoted my entire career to the goal of
helping people obtain or maintain decent, safe,
and affordable housing, " and to increasing the
District's affordable housing supply, Rome says.
" My pro bono mentoring work allows me to
participate in those efforts on the most basic
level, one not necessarily afforded in private
practice. "
Reach D.C. Bar staff writer John Murph at
jmurph@dcbar.org.
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November 29
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November 30
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December 1
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December 6
Basics of Filing and Litigating Freedom
of Information Act Requests
December 12
Copyright and Trademark Law Year in Review
December 19
Attorney-Client Privilege
and the Work Product Doctrine
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* WASHINGTON LAWYER 41
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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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