The annual DC Pro Bono Week, held this year Oct. 19-26, aims to address a conundrum: how can a city that is overflowing with legal talent and resources also have such a vast unmet need for legal services for low-income residents?
“There are so many lawyers in the city who donate their time to represent the poor, and so many others who could be doing so,” says Nancy Lopez, executive director of Washington Council of Lawyers, which coordinated the 2013 event. “DC Pro Bono Week aims to get more lawyers involved in representing the poor and to support those who are already doing so.”
Under the guidance of Jen Tschirch, coordinator of pro bono activities for the Columbus School of Law (in addition to serving as coordinator of Pro Bono Week for the Washington Council of Lawyers) CUA Law students and recent alumni were deeply engaged all week in activities held around the city.
Madeline Taylor, Class of 2013, attended the Equal Justice Works dinner as a Fellow; an event also attended by Tschirch.
Alumna Parul Gupta (2013), joined by second-year students Gypsy Clement, Sarah Waters, Ana Victoria Perez, and third-year student Rajai El-Rashed, volunteered on behalf of Go Formal for Justice, the first major fundraising event spearheaded by the DC Bar Foundation Young Lawyers Network. Alumnus Peter Antonoplos, 2001, served on the host committee for the event.
Some of the proceeds raised by “Go Formal” support the D.C. Poverty Lawyer Loan Repayment Assistance Program, which provides financial incentives for young attorneys to work in the public interest.
CUA Law students, staff, and faculty were seemingly everywhere, learning about and contributing to pro bono causes and activities.
Other events during DC Pro Bono Week included a Catholic Charities - Hogar Immigrant Services Naturalization Workshop, attended by 1L Maria Rolong; a DC Bar Pro Bono Program Small Business Clinic, attended by 1L Daniel O'Connell and 2L Ariana Awad; a poverty law conference at which Professor Regina Jefferson presented “Restructuring the Three Legged Stool to Provide Greater Retirement Support for Low and Middle-Income Workers;” an immigration forum at which alumna AnneRose Menachery (2013) volunteered; and a landlord/tenant court visit attended by alumna Leah Quaile, 2012.
Rounding out the busy week, Tschirch attended the DC Bar Pro Bono Partnership Luncheon, the NALP/PSJD Public Service Mini-Conference, and the Equal Justice Works Conference & Career Fair.
L-R: AnneRose Menachery, Class of 2013, at an immigration reform pro bono project; 3L Thomas Bryan (with bag) at the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair; 2L Trieste Lockwood at the same fair.