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Department of Labor Honored for Commitment to Pro Bono Work

By Jeffery Leon

November 3, 2017

Federal Government Attorney Pro Bono Recognition Reception

Celebrating Pro Bono Week, the D.C. Circuit Judicial Conference hosted its biennial Federal Government Attorney Pro Bono Recognition Reception on October 24.

Held at the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse, the reception brought out members of the judiciary and attorneys from the public and private sectors, including Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, several judges from the D.C. Courts, D.C. Bar president Patrick McGlone, and president-elect Esther Lim.

Chief Judge Garland opened the event speaking about the positive roles of federal and private attorneys in pro bono work, expressing his gratitude to the organizations and lawyers committed to pro bono every day.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the John C. Cruden Federal Agency Pro Bono Leadership Award, recognizing a government agency that has demonstrated significant commitment to conducting pro bono work among its employees in the past two years and follows Rule 6.1 of the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Responsibility. The Rule encourages lawyers, at a minimum, to complete 50 hours of pro bono service per year when feasible.

The award went to the U.S. Department of Labor, which recently revamped its pro bono program by creating in-house committees to plan programs, work on policy issues, and address concerns. The committees worked to increase the amount of administrative leave available to attorneys for pro bono, leading to a 40 percent increase in pro bono participation by employees. The agency is also very active in fostering a culture of pro bono work by hosting trainings sessions for both new and current staff, legal briefings on D.C. housing laws, roundtable events, and staffing the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center's Advice and Referral Clinic.

“Pro bono work has become a part of the Department of Labor’s culture among its attorneys and is woven into the professional experience of being an attorney at that agency,” said Judge Amy Jackson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.