Pro Bono
  • Print Page

Pro Bono Lawyer Helps Ease Young Mother’s Fear

Mother and ChildD.C. residents who cannot afford a lawyer face a daunting challenge if a legal problem arises. The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center’s monthly Saturday Advice & Referral Clinic is a lifeline for low-income District residents.

On a recent Saturday morning, Ms. Y* walked into the Advice & Referral Clinic, fearing that her infant daughter’s paternal grandparents would try to take the child out of the county. The grandparents already had asked the mother to make them the child’s guardians. Ms. Y could not afford an attorney, so she was forced to prepare to file a custody case on her own.

A volunteer attorney met with Ms. Y, listened to her concerns, and explained to her what she should expect at the upcoming hearing. Although the Advice & Referral Clinic offers brief legal advice, information, and referrals, the volunteer asked if she could continue to help Ms. Y. The Pro Bono Center said “of course” and placed the case with the volunteer through the Advocacy & Justice Clinic and, as it does for all full representation cases, connected the volunteer with an expert family law mentor.

The volunteer heard Ms. Y’s concerns, calmed her anxieties, and brainstormed a path forward. Thanks to the pro bono attorney’s advocacy, in a process focused on the baby’s best interests, the court awarded Ms. Y primary physical custody, as well as protection against any attempt to relocate her child.

Results like the one Ms. Y’s pro bono attorney achieved can save a family and transform a child’s life. In addition to the thousands of other District residents the Pro Bono Center serves each year through other clinics and programs, the Center connects more than 250 individuals and families with volunteer lawyers for full representation in critical cases like Ms. Y’s. Please remember that voluntary contributions from D.C. Bar members like you support the transformative services critical to Ms. Y and thousands of our neighbors.

April 2020