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October 08, 2008

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Diana Rubin

Your blog in the Legal Times today highlighting how poorer DC residents lack access to legal services was right on point -- but law firms aren't the only ones who can or should step up to solve the problem. In fact, one plucky group of attorneys is already successfully tackling it head-on and succeeding.

The DC Volunteer Lawyers Project (DCVLP) founded last January has tapped into an overlooked and underutilized resource to help solve the justice deficit in DC -- the many experienced attorneys who have left the practice of law to stay home with their children. The DCVLP recruits, trains and supports these volunteer attorneys so they can represent low-income DC residents free of charge in civil cases.


The DCVLP provides the same types of support to its volunteer lawyers that law firms give their associates who do pro bono work. They provide malpractice insurance, substantive training in family law, an office for client meetings, mentoring, and reimbursement for litigation expenses. With such help, DCVLP attorneys have represented dozens of indigent DC residents in family law cases to date and provided more than 700 hours of pro bono legal help.

DCVLP lawyers:


Won a contested adoption case for the foster mother of a two-year-old foster child abandoned by her biological parents;
Secured a grandmother’s permanent custody of her 12-year-old granddaughter whose father is incarcerated and whose mother is a substance abuser;
Obtained civil protection orders for two clients against their abusive partners and secured custody of the minor children for both clients; and
Secured SSI disability benefits for a two-year-old girl with multiple disabilities resulting from prenatal drug exposure.

Please contact www.dcvlp.org for more information.

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