An Interview with Darryl Maxwell: The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center's New Addition

By Kathy Lugo

August 14, 2018

Darryl Maxwell

Pictured: Assistant Director Darryl Maxwell (right) with a graduate of the Best Practices in Employment Law: Training Series for Small Business Owners.

On July 1 Darryl Maxwell was promoted from managing attorney to assistant director for the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center’s Nonprofit and Small Business Legal Assistance Programs, succeeding former assistant director Regina Hopkins upon her retirement. For the last ten years, Darryl has served as a staff attorney and managing attorney for the Small Business Legal Assistance Program. He discusses his love for small businesses, pro bono opportunities for transactional lawyers, and his vision for the future of the Nonprofit and Small Business Legal Assistance Programs below.

How did you first get involved with the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center?

Before working at the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, I was an antitrust litigator at a private firm. I was involved in mergers and acquisition matters, government investigative inquires, and other matters with large, institutional clients. As a young lawyer, I thought it would be helpful to attain some client counseling skills, so I volunteered for the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center’s Small Business Brief Advice Legal Clinics. In 2008, I joined the Pro Bono Center as a staff attorney, primarily focused on managing the monthly small business clinics. Later, I became managing attorney of the Small Business Legal Assistance Program.


What is the mission of the Nonprofit and Small Business (NPSB) Legal Assistance Programs?

The Pro Bono Center's Nonprofit Legal Assistance Program assists D.C. area community-based nonprofits. Many of these nonprofits provide vital services and would be unable to afford an attorney without significantly depleting their organization's ability to serve its client population. We serve these organizations with the help of pro bono volunteers from local law firms, government agencies and in-house counsel. It is a fantastic opportunity for transactional attorneys interested in supporting the important work these nonprofits do for our community.

The Small Business Legal Assistance Program supports entrepreneurs serving low-income neighborhoods. Establishing small businesses in low-income communities creates employment opportunities for residents. For low-income entrepreneurs, a small business also provides a way for its owners to create and build wealth that can be passed on to their families. The Small Business Legal Assistance Program also presents a great way for the transactional legal community to promote D.C. economic development through pro bono service.


How does it feel to succeed Regina Hopkins as assistant director for the NPSB Legal Assistance Programs?

It’s difficult to encapsulate Regina’s legacy, but I’ll try. She created these programs from the ground up, building upon some of the relationships of her predecessors, creating new ones, and mixing her tax and nonprofit management expertise to develop innovative programming and training. It feels both exciting and daunting to succeed her as assistant director. While I’ve been learning at Regina’s right hand for almost ten years, moving up to the big chair fills me with a fair share of caution. But I’m excited to take on the challenge and continue to steer the Nonprofit and Small Business Legal Assistance Programs in the right direction. I also have the distinct pleasure of continuing to work with a great team that has over 25 years of experience working on these matters. Definitely helps make the transition a little bit easier.


What is your vision for the NPSB Legal Assistance Programs moving forward?

In these early stages, my vision is fairly similar to Regina’s. The Pro Bono Center will continue to support the nonprofit community through top flight training and education, as well as matching nonprofits with pro bono counsel. I will also ensure that we continue to be the industry standard in providing free legal assistance to entrepreneurs serving low-income neighborhoods. As I grow in this position, I hope to implement a few new initiatives, some at Regina’s urging and others as the creations of our wonderful and experienced NPSB team.


What would you say to encourage more attorneys to volunteer their transactional law expertise?

Pro bono work is a way to share your knowledge, gain perspective, and feed your soul. There are many avenues to turn your expertise into service: take an hour to present during a webinar; volunteer for three hours at a legal clinic; or counsel a nonprofit in the midst of the development of their organization – or do all three! The Pro Bono Center’s NPSB Legal Assistance Programs are here to help you use and grow your transactional law prowess by supporting the District’s nonprofit and small business communities.