Pro Bono
  • Print Page

Meet Our Volunteers

The Pro Bono Center offers a range of pro bono opportunities for lawyers looking to get involved, from Saturday morning brief advice legal clinics (like the Advice & Referral clinic, which provides pro se individuals with general information, advice, and brief services) to full-representation clinics. Learn how you can volunteer with us and make a difference in the lives of our low-income District neighbors.

Advice & Referral Clinic

Bryan C. Diner (Partner, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP)

Bryan C. Diner Although Finnegan partner Bryan C. Diner has previously handled pro bono matters, his first time volunteering at the Pro Bono Center’s Advice & Referral Clinic was a revelation: “As a first time participant at the clinic, it was wonderful to not only try but to really feel that we helped so many people with their legal issues and problems, allowing them to leave the clinic feeling that they had a promising path forward and a way out of their dilemmas,” he says.

Bryan encourages more attorneys to get involved in pro bono work and says: “Few things in life nourish the mind and warm the heart and soul as helping people. And I was proud and grateful, with all my Finnegan colleagues, to be part of the Pro Bono Center’s Advice & Referral Clinic. I'm looking forward to participating again soon.”

Andrew Doyle (Senior Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice)

Andrew Doyle “Being a lawyer makes it so easy to help people. It’s just remarkable,” says Andrew Doyle, a regulatory lawyer with the U.S. Department of Justice.* One of the Pro Bono Center’s most dedicated volunteers, Andy has spent more than 50 Saturdays meeting clients at our monthly Advice & Referral Clinic since 2010. What keeps him coming back? “My day job is working for the greater good, so I like to remember what it’s like to help one person at a time.”

Visitors to the Advice & Referral Clinic may meet one-on-one with a volunteer lawyer to discuss any individual civil legal issue governed by D.C. or federal law. Andy has answered questions from clients about creditors, insurance, landlord/tenant matters, construction disputes, child custody, and probate.

“The best sessions are when you get surprised by a hug or tears of gratitude. I remember one woman who came with questions about the administration of a relative’s estate. She was still so distraught about her relative’s death, and it had taken so much for her to get to the clinic, emotionally and logistically. At first, she was very quiet. Then, at one point, she burst into tears. She was grateful to me for helping her, but she was also so proud of herself for getting there.”

What would Andy say to other D.C. Bar members considering pro bono service? “Once you get started, you’ll wonder what took you so long! As lawyers, we get so immersed in our structure that we forget we have the ability to connect with people in the city who need us.”

*Federal government attorneys volunteer only in their individual capacities.

Advocacy & Justice Clinic

Tracey Ohm

Tracey OhmFor Tracey Ohm, of counsel at Stinson Leonard Street LLP and dedicated D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center volunteer, the reward of pro bono work isn’t out-of-the-park wins. It’s the gratitude she gets for the simple act of being an advocate. “The clients are so grateful to have someone standing up for them,” she said. “That’s both what I enjoy and what keeps me going.” Read the full profile.

Court-based Resource Centers

John D. McGrane (Partner, Morgan, Lewis and Bockius LLP)

John D. McGrane “In 2013, the Probate Resource Center staff approached Morgan Lewis about supporting one of its weekly walk-in sessions,” says John D. McGrane, a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. “[The firm] readily agreed to staff one session a month with 3-4 attorneys, and shortly thereafter, I got involved. I continue to help staff the weekly sessions 4-5 times a year.”

What keeps bringing John back to the Probate Resource Center? “The experience is very rewarding,” he says. “Those coming for help have a wide variety of situations and needs. I have worked with people whose parent or sibling has recently passed away, and at this difficult time they are trying to determine how to deal with homes, bank accounts, and other assets, along with various creditors and on occasion, other relatives. In every case, there is a real need for resolution of the issues. And, most rewarding is the sincere appreciation from the customers for the help provided by the Probate Resource Center – for making sense out of a confusing process."

Rebecca J. Michael (Counsel, Arnold & Porter LLP)

Rebecca J. Michael “Arnold & Porter LLP has had a long relationship with the Landlord Tenant Resource Center,” says Rebecca J. Michael, counsel at the firm and a dedicated volunteer with the Resource Center. “After attending a training session, I knew I wanted to participate.”

“The volunteer work at the Landlord Tenant Resource Center helps transform the lives of its customers,” she says. “Many of the Resource Center's customers are facing dire circumstances, and they really need someone to listen and help them understand and navigate the rules, regulations, and requirements [of Landlord Tenant Court]. I have helped draft documents that have halted a wrongful eviction and imminent homelessness of a tenant; allowed a disabled veteran to stay off the street; and enabled a young, single mother to tuck her kids in bed at home for another night. I have also helped draft documents to expedite securing working heat, air conditioning, plumbing, and appliances for some of the most vulnerable citizens in D.C.”

Rebecca highly recommends that attorneys get involved in pro bono work: “It is a great way to make a difference in someone else’s life on important issues and has tremendous personal, professional, and social benefits for attorneys, too. It is especially easy and rewarding for attorneys to volunteer at the Landlord Tenant Resource Center. No experience is necessary, the support network is unparalleled, the time commitment is fixed, and all your work is completed before you leave at the end of your day there.”

Immigration Legal Advice & Referral Clinic

Annette K. Kwok (Associate, Venable LLP)

Annette K. Kwok “Volunteering as a pro bono attorney at the Immigration Legal Advice & Referral Clinic has been incredibly rewarding,” says Annette K. Kwok, an associate at Venable LLP and past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of the Greater Washington, D.C. Area, Inc. (APABA-DC).

Annette has volunteered at the clinic with APABA-DC for nine years. “I’m an immigrant myself and, first and foremost, I feel very connected with the District’s immigrant community,” she says. “The ability to impart my experience in my interactions with clients is what makes pro bono meaningful. Sometimes, working at a big law firm, you forget what it’s like for people desperately in need of legal help. And clients with immigration concerns especially, are scared right now and skeptical about coming forth and exposing themselves.”

What does Annette suggest to D.C. Bar members considering pro bono service? “As lawyers, we have to do our best to help our community. Pro bono work inspires me to be more compassionate and grateful for what I have and motivates me to do more for those who are less fortunate.”

Read more about Annette’s pro bono experience in the November 2017 issue of Washington Lawyer magazine.

Anam Rahman

Anam RahmanAnam Rahman was instilled with the values of philanthropy, altruism, and empathy from a young age. Her father, an oncologist, imparted the importance of volunteer work in her and her siblings. Surrounded by a family of doctors, she learned about giving back and helping those in need. Inspired by her undergraduate career at The George Washington University (GWU), Anam ultimately opted for a career in law, but paying it forward remains a guiding principle for her work in immigration law. Read the full profile.

Nonprofit and Small Business Legal Assistance Programs

Tammy Hui

Tammy HuiFor Tammy Hui, a volunteer with the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center’s Small Business Legal Assistance Program, entrepreneurship is in her blood. Tammy is a native of Edmonton, the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta, where she grew up as the daughter of a general contractor father and the niece of automotive shop owners and restauranteurs. “That’s what attracted me to business owners, that entrepreneurial spirit,” she says. “Folks who are willing to make huge leaps without any protection. I’m drawn to helping those people as best I can.” Read the full profile.

 

Brad Guest

Brad GuestBrad Guest volunteers his time to support D.C.’s small businesses because for the clients “this is often their life’s dream, something they’ve poured their time and energy into often exclusively for a long time. Receiving pro bono legal advice may be the only opportunity for these individuals to get answers to questions that could not only impact their business, but also their personal risk and liability.” Read the full profile.

Skyline