News

How the Pro Bono Center Continues to Serve During Coronavirus Crisis

March 16, 2020

Following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in light of Mayor Bowser’s Declaration of Public Emergency, the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center has temporarily suspended the operation of its neighborhood clinics, nonprofit and small business clinics, and training programs. In addition, its Landlord Tenant Resource Center and Consumer Law Resource Center at D.C. Superior Court will remain closed through March 30.

“These were tough decisions,” said Pro Bono Center Executive Director Rebecca Troth. “We are keenly aware that reducing our services will affect the people, organizations, and families we serve every day. But the majority of our services are provided in-person, face to face, and in public spaces, so we know these decisions make the most sense for our community.”

“We also are hopeful that the court’s decision to stay all eviction and foreclosure proceedings until May 1 and continue hearings in other matters, including landlord tenant, debt collection and small claims, will alleviate our clients’ more immediate needs,” Troth added.

In the meantime, Pro Bono Center staff are working remotely and are available by email and telephone to assist. They are notifying individuals who rely on the Center’s clinics and programs about available legal services, focusing on clients with urgent legal needs. Pro Bono Center attorneys are continuing to support volunteers with active pro bono cases.

The Legal Information Help Line will continue to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 202-626-3499 for basic information in English, Spanish, Amharic, and French on more than 30 legal topics, finding an attorney, and free legal services available in the District.

The Nonprofit & Small Business Legal Assistance Programs can be reached at [email protected].

The Center also is developing other methods for serving its clients remotely, including coordinating with the D.C. Consortium of Legal Services Providers to post the most up-to-date information about resources and telephone intake services on LawHelp.org/DC.

“None of us knows how long this crisis will last. But we do know that the District of Columbia residents we serve will be among those who will most suffer the consequences,” Troth said. “We will do everything we can to continue offering legal services and will resume our regular programs as soon as it is safe for our clients and our staff.”

Through its services and programs, the Pro Bono Center touches the lives of more than 20,000 D.C. residents every year. For information about contributing to the Center, email [email protected] or call 202-780-2734. Donors can also contribute securely online through the Bar’s website.