“The battle is long, and requires constant vigilance, but not to fight would be unpardonable.”
~Florence Wagman Roisman, Esq.
Since our inception, volunteers have been the heart and soul of the Legal Clinic, our presence in the community, our tools for breaking down barriers to access to justice for those who experience homelessness. There are a number of ways that attorneys, legal assistants and law students can give of their time to help our clients. No matter how they engage, our volunteers are our faithful companions on this journey towards a more just community.
Legal Assistance Project Volunteer
Through our Legal Assistance Project (LAP), our attorneys and network of over 200 volunteer lawyers and paralegals assist clients on a broad range of civil legal issues. Volunteers see clients at our six community sites, located at day centers, dining programs, and a shelter-based medical clinic, providing the legal assistance necessary to help these clients address the issues that keep them mired in homelessness. LAP allows us to tap the generosity of the DC legal community and, each year, leverage millions of dollars in donated legal services.
The Legal Clinic Intern Experience
Our legal interns/externs work along with our Legal Clinic staff attorneys in providing direct representation, education and policy advocacy on behalf of individuals and families experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness. We typically have one intern each semester and one each summer. Our internships are unpaid, we encourage applicants to seek out funding from their schools or other fellowship sources.
Under attorney supervision, interns handle:
- Direct client casework
- Legal research
- Drafting legal pleadings
- Public policy advocacy
- Community engagement
Qualifications: Ideal applicants are current law students who have completed at least one year of law school, and are interested in doing pro bono or public interest law upon graduation. Applicants should have good oral and written communication skills. Prior experience and interest in direct services and/or working with people who are homeless is helpful, but not required.
Ideal applicants have demonstrated interest in:
- Social justice
- Affordable housing
- Legal services and public interest law
- Public policy advocacy
If you’re interested in applying, please contact staff attorney Caitlin Cocilova to inquire about the application deadline for the upcoming semester. Applicants must provide a cover letter, resume, and writing sample.
Caitlin Cocilova, Esq. Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless 1200 U Street, NW, Third Floor Washington, D.C. 20009 firstname.lastname@example.org (E-mail submission is preferred)
The Lane Evans Home Court Fellows Program was established in 2006 at the urging of Lindsay Amstutz, GULC Home Court Chair 2005, to strengthen the ties between the event, the students, and the work of the Legal Clinic. The fellowship is named in honor of the late Congressman Lane Evans, who long captained the Hill’s Angels. In this competitive fellowship program, students are selected to work on substantive projects that are an integral part of the organization’s ongoing advocacy agenda. The Legal Clinic is grateful for the talent and enthusiasm that the students always bring to the Fellowship.
“The landlord refused to make repairs, but his tune quickly changed once we got a court order requiring him to do so. A little advocacy can go a long way! The eviction case is still ongoing, but the residents are already more empowered in seeing their landlord finally do some of what is required of him by law.” ~Robert Medine, Crowell & Moring Affordable Housing Fellow 2012
“I have been a volunteer at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless for several years. I have also been a donor over the years. I have recently joined the Board of Directors. My law firm has been a strong supporter of the Clinic for many years. I have been incredibly impressed with the mission of the organization and am constantly amazed by the quality of the work performed by the Clinic. It is an honor to be a volunteer and Board member of such a terrific organization.” ~Laura Tuell Parcher, Legal Clinic Volunteer and Board Member
“As a summer law clerk at the Legal Clinic, I was alternately humbled and awed by the commitment, skill, and success the Clinic’s lawyers and staff demonstrated while advocating for our clients. Their expertise and excellence, along with the efforts of our clients–who themselves inspired me with their steadfast advocacy–motivated me to improve my traditional legal skills and expand my understanding of what effective lawyering should be. From client intake interviews to shelter termination reviews to commenting on proposed federal regulations affecting the homeless community, I engaged in both direct representation and policy advocacy this summer. The Legal Clinic’s close connection to its clients and the Washington community informs not only its first-rate legal representation, but also its work in policy. When the Legal Clinic proposes a fair budget that works for all Washingtonians, stakeholders can be assured that the proposal serves the broad interest of the community. I finished the summer with a great admiration for this model of legal advocacy, and I believe more organizations should seek to replicate it in their own work. Last, but certainly not least, the Legal Clinic amplifies the voices of members of our community who are too often ignored in our political debate. The Clinic doesn’t merely preach values of justice and inclusion–it practices them on a daily basis. The Legal Clinic walks with our neighbors in need and fights with them to create a Washington of which we all can be proud and in which we can all prosper.” ~Greg Zlotnick, Legal Clinic Summer Law Clerk
“I will never forget a meeting I had with a client one winter evening at the McDonald’s on the corner of 14th and U Street. During our meeting, a man approached our table to ask for money. As I sheepishly told him the truth – that I had no cash with me (a bad habit which I am still resolved to fix), my client reached into the plastic bag that held her most valuable belongings and handed him one of the $8 in her possession. She didn’t hesitate. She just gave. Afterwards, she explained to me that she never thought she would be in this position, and that anyone could find himself in her position, so we have to look out for each other. Her words continue to resonate with me. We are all threads of the same cloth in this universe, and we have to look out for each other. I am grateful that the Legal Clinic has afforded me the opportunity to do that.” ~ Erin Kriynovich, Esq., Legal Clinic Volunteer Attorney (from Oct. 25, 2013 blog post “Why I Do Pro Bono Work”)