Washington Council of Lawyers

Washington Council of Lawyers We are Washington, D.C.'s only voluntary bar association dedicated exclusively to promoting pro bono and public-interest law. Founded in 1971, the Washington Council of Lawyers (WCL) is the D.C.

area's only voluntary bar association dedicated exclusively to promoting pro bono and public interest law. The Council is both a forum and a voice for forefront public-interest issues. In 1970, a group of liberal Washington attorneys ran a campaign to oppose President Nixon's nomination of Harold Carswell to Supreme Court justice. The campaign spawned thousands of letters to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a few months later, the nomination was defeated. The lawyers' success in defeating Carswell's nomination was encouraging. The tangible realization that liberal lawyers can effect change helped spawn a new organization - a council of lawyers devoted to public service and liberal ideals. Before 1972, the D.C. Bar Association was voluntary and strictly conservative. As such, the bar repeatedly failed to emphasize lawyers' ethical obligations to pro bono service. The WCL grew out of the devotion of lawyers, mainly those who ran the campaign against Carswell, who disagreed with the mindset of the then-voluntary D.C. Bar. They were lawyers who envisioned justice in a more liberal vein. Early on, they understood that there is and was a place in Washington for intelligent lawyers committed to progressive social change. "The arrival on the relatively conservative Washington legal scene of large numbers of very idealistic and relatively liberal young lawyers recently emerged from the political and social ferment of the university campuses [of the 1960s] was bound to create an organization committed to social change and liberal ideals," notes former WCL President Russell B. Stevenson Jr. One of the Council's first successful events was a Counter Law Day Luncheon, organized to protest the D.C. Bar Association's decision to select Robert Mardian, Assistant Attorney General for Internal Security under President Richard Nixon, as the speaker for a 1972 luncheon. The WCL organized a counter luncheon at the same time as the Mardian talk, which featured Former Senator Harold Hughes (D-Iowa). Hughes spoke in a different room of the same hotel about the Nixon-era Justice Department's disregard for civil liberty and freedom. According to accounts of WCL members, attendance at the WCL luncheon outweighed the Mardian talk by roughly three to one. In 1972, the D.C. Bar Association became mandatory and unified. The WCL developed a slate of candidates that won the leadership of the new D.C. Bar Association's Board of Governors by a landslide. The new unified D.C. Bar shared many of the Council's progressive ideals about homelessness, poverty and public interest law, and the relationship between the D.C. Bar and the Council became cooperative and collaborative. Though the D.C. Bar changed significantly in the early 1970s, the Council did not cease its fight for socially just policies. For the remainder of the 1970s the WCL ran successful task forces on welfare, housing, equal employment opportunities and women's rights. The Council cosponsored with the D.C. Bar a trip to South Africa in 1974. In Johannesburg, Council members addressed questions of human rights and later met with lawyers and judges in Kenya and Tanzania. Four years later, in 1978, the Council sponsored one of the first trips to Cuba available to the general American public. Members of the Council met with government officials and discussed the human rights issues and the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba. The Council transitioned from the 1970s to the 1980s, further establishing itself as a respected, liberal-minded voluntary bar. In the early 1980s, the WCL surveyed American legal aid groups. The survey's follow-up report noted the rising number of Americans being turned away from legal aid services due to federal cutbacks in legal aid support. Throughout the 80s, the Council filed amicus briefs in the federal courts, opposing appointments and legislation that threatened civil justice. In addition, members of the Council published a series of hard-hitting reports on the Reagan administration's treatment of civil liberties. During the 1990s, the Council ran the Death Penalty Representation Project, the country's first program designed to recruit and train lawyers from smaller practice settings to handle post-conviction matters for death-row inmates. The Council also helped parents who desired to adopt children to overcome the legal barriers associated with the D.C. Superior Court's adoption procedures. In 1996, the Council began its Mock Trial Program, which continues today. Through this program, Council volunteers assist students at Washington D.C.'s Garrison Elementary School to put on a trial and be a lawyer for a day. While working with lawyers and others preparing for the trial, the students gain a firsthand appreciation of the role of law in their everyday lives. In addition, the WCL began its Going Public program in the 1990s - a forum implemented to educate lawyers interested in transitioning into careers in public service. The Council also spent a good amount of time surveying and evaluating large D.C. firm pro bono programs throughout the 1990s. Of course, monthly luncheon gatherings and speaker series that discuss pertinent legal issues have been a primary activity from the beginning. Over the years, the Council has hosted numerous speakers including Former Senator Birch Bay (D-Indiana), Former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, Former Senator Gary Hart (D-Colorado), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Former Senator Eugene McCarthy (D-Minnesota). The Council continues to hold panel discussions that address topics of public interest concern. Recent forums have focused on issues including liberty and security; civil rights class actions; and the legal impact of homelessness. The WCL repeatedly finds new and interesting projects and causes related to pro bono service. In 2003, the Council presented its first Government Pro Bono Award, designed to recognize and encourage government agencies and government-employed attorneys dedicated to public interest law and pro bono service. The WCL continues to evaluate and endorse candidates for D.C. Bar office. As always, the Council's agenda is developed, set and carried out by its members, all of whom are people who care about justice. The WCL continues to offer ways for lawyers to tackle public interest issues large and small, to stay active in the trenches and find jobs in the public interest community. "A hallmark of the Council is its ability to react quickly to issues that threaten access to justice, and its capacity to stand up, again and again, to make people aware of issues affecting access to justice, and to encourage lawyers to recognize and act upon their obligation to serve their communities," said Katherine L. Garrett, who served as Council President during the mid 1990s. The Council seeks to promote justice, and it its members lead the fight.

Operating as usual

50 years ago — Washington Council of Lawyers was founded to reform the DC Bar and fight for social justice. Today — Wash...
05/11/2021

50 years ago — Washington Council of Lawyers was founded to reform the DC Bar and fight for social justice. Today — Washington Council of Lawyers is a vibrant voice for the DC pro bono and public interest community, fighting for access to justice, with more than 70 programs during the past year. So many individuals have been a part of our work along the way, that’s why we’re excited to celebrate with you this summer at our 50th Anniversary Reunion on June 22! Join us for networking and to hear from past presidents about their favorite memories. Our 50th Anniversary Reunion is free to attend, but we are encouraging donations to help us stay strong for the next 50 years! Register and consider donating here: https://lnkd.in/dS7wSJ4 #50YearsStrong

50 years ago — Washington Council of Lawyers was founded to reform the DC Bar and fight for social justice. Today — Washington Council of Lawyers is a vibrant voice for the DC pro bono and public interest community, fighting for access to justice, with more than 70 programs during the past year. So many individuals have been a part of our work along the way, that’s why we’re excited to celebrate with you this summer at our 50th Anniversary Reunion on June 22! Join us for networking and to hear from past presidents about their favorite memories. Our 50th Anniversary Reunion is free to attend, but we are encouraging donations to help us stay strong for the next 50 years! Register and consider donating here: https://lnkd.in/dS7wSJ4 #50YearsStrong

We’re back with another #MentoringMonday tip! Today’s tip might sound counterintuitive, but we assure you it isn’t. You ...
05/10/2021

We’re back with another #MentoringMonday tip! Today’s tip might sound counterintuitive, but we assure you it isn’t. You don’t have to limit mentor/mentee meetings to career talk. In fact, you shouldn’t. You know how some of your best ideas come to you while bathing, drifting off to sleep, even dreaming? Your brain takes advantage of the ‘time off’ from problem solving to prioritize other things. Problem solving swirls in your subconscious instead. And voila! Your best ideas arise when you’re pondering anything but. Talk to your mentor/mentee about pets, your favorite eateries, the bane of your existence that are escalefters. You never know what insights you’ll find! #WashLawyers

We’re back with another #MentoringMonday tip! Today’s tip might sound counterintuitive, but we assure you it isn’t. You don’t have to limit mentor/mentee meetings to career talk. In fact, you shouldn’t. You know how some of your best ideas come to you while bathing, drifting off to sleep, even dreaming? Your brain takes advantage of the ‘time off’ from problem solving to prioritize other things. Problem solving swirls in your subconscious instead. And voila! Your best ideas arise when you’re pondering anything but. Talk to your mentor/mentee about pets, your favorite eateries, the bane of your existence that are escalefters. You never know what insights you’ll find! #WashLawyers

We were excited last month to host a panel entitled "Rising to the Top: Diverse Executive Leadership for Non-Profits." T...
05/10/2021

We were excited last month to host a panel entitled "Rising to the Top: Diverse Executive Leadership for Non-Profits." This informative panel provided a comprehensive view of how diverse non-profit leaders find support and inspiration and how we all can support initiatives to enhance diversity in nonprofit leadership. If you missed this event, check out our blog for a recap here: https://wclawyers.org/rjs-rising-to-the-top-recap/ #probonopublicoblog #Risingtothetop

We were excited last month to host a panel entitled "Rising to the Top: Diverse Executive Leadership for Non-Profits." This informative panel provided a comprehensive view of how diverse non-profit leaders find support and inspiration and how we all can support initiatives to enhance diversity in nonprofit leadership. If you missed this event, check out our blog for a recap here: https://wclawyers.org/rjs-rising-to-the-top-recap/ #probonopublicoblog #Risingtothetop

Wishing a happy Mother's Day to all moms and mother figures for those who are celebrating. #mothersday
05/09/2021

Wishing a happy Mother's Day to all moms and mother figures for those who are celebrating. #mothersday

Wishing a happy Mother's Day to all moms and mother figures for those who are celebrating. #mothersday

Today is the last day of Well-Being Week in Law! Today’s principle is emotional well-being. We encourage you to take tim...
05/07/2021

Today is the last day of Well-Being Week in Law! Today’s principle is emotional well-being. We encourage you to take time today to watch this TedX talk about practicing emotional first-aid. Dr. Guy Winch advocates for better emotional hygiene — taking care of our emotions and minds with the same diligence as we take care of our bodies. Watch here: https://www.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_why_we_all_need_to_practice_emotional_first_aid #WellbeingWeekInLaw

Today is the last day of Well-Being Week in Law! Today’s principle is emotional well-being. We encourage you to take time today to watch this TedX talk about practicing emotional first-aid. Dr. Guy Winch advocates for better emotional hygiene — taking care of our emotions and minds with the same diligence as we take care of our bodies. Watch here: https://www.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_why_we_all_need_to_practice_emotional_first_aid #WellbeingWeekInLaw

LAST CHANCE FOR EARLY BIRD PRICING! Register now for a great keynote and access to five virtual panels and networking op...
05/07/2021
2021 Summer Pro Bono & Public Interest Forum

LAST CHANCE FOR EARLY BIRD PRICING! Register now for a great keynote and access to five virtual panels and networking opportunities. One registration covers everything. Summer interns and associates are encouraged to attend alongside practicing attorneys from all practice areas and sectors. Join us to learn how to incorporate pro bono work into your practice. Register here: https://wclawyers.org/2021-summer-forum/
#SumFo21 #WashLawyers

Our Summer Pro Bono & Public Interest Forum is an annual tradition that brings together lawyers, summer associates, summer interns, and others interested in using their law degrees to help those in need. It's also a great way to highlight the importance of pro bono and public-interest work...

LAST DAY TO REGISTER! Want to indulge in a wine tasting without leaving the comfort of your home? Join us for our event ...
05/07/2021

LAST DAY TO REGISTER! Want to indulge in a wine tasting without leaving the comfort of your home? Join us for our event #LawyerswithaFinePalate on May 19! For only $45, you will receive 4 half-size bottles of wine from Grand Cata, a Latin American wine shop in Shaw. Food pairings may also be available. Meet fellow public-interest-minded attorneys while practicing oenology! https://wclawyers.org/virtual-wine-tasting #Salud

LAST DAY TO REGISTER! Want to indulge in a wine tasting without leaving the comfort of your home? Join us for our event #LawyerswithaFinePalate on May 19! For only $45, you will receive 4 half-size bottles of wine from Grand Cata, a Latin American wine shop in Shaw. Food pairings may also be available. Meet fellow public-interest-minded attorneys while practicing oenology! https://wclawyers.org/virtual-wine-tasting #Salud

Washington Council of Lawyers is pleased to endorse the below candidates for D.C. Bar Office. Every year, we endorse can...
05/06/2021

Washington Council of Lawyers is pleased to endorse the below candidates for D.C. Bar Office. Every year, we endorse candidates for D.C. Bar office who we believe will share our commitment to pro bono service and public-interest law. We hope you will take time to vote in this year’s election via the email you receive from the DC Bar. More info: https://lnkd.in/e9TdAdz #dcbar

Washington Council of Lawyers is pleased to endorse the below candidates for D.C. Bar Office. Every year, we endorse candidates for D.C. Bar office who we believe will share our commitment to pro bono service and public-interest law. We hope you will take time to vote in this year’s election via the email you receive from the DC Bar. More info: https://lnkd.in/e9TdAdz #dcbar

Today is the fourth day of Well-Being Week! Today's principle is social well- being.  We encourage you to check out this...
05/06/2021

Today is the fourth day of Well-Being Week! Today's principle is social well- being. We encourage you to check out this video about friendship, and how having deep and meaningful relationships can help you support your well-being and reach your goals. Watch here: https://themodelhealthshow.com/dhru-purohit/ #WellBeingWeekinLaw

Today is the fourth day of Well-Being Week! Today's principle is social well- being. We encourage you to check out this video about friendship, and how having deep and meaningful relationships can help you support your well-being and reach your goals. Watch here: https://themodelhealthshow.com/dhru-purohit/ #WellBeingWeekinLaw

Join @PBRCMD next week for the Partners for Justice (virtual) Conference. Panelists will discuss critical issues facing ...
05/05/2021
Partners for Justice Conference | Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland

Join @PBRCMD next week for the Partners for Justice (virtual) Conference. Panelists will discuss critical issues facing the poor and underrepresented across the mid-Atlantic region and how to improve access to justice. More details here: http://ow.ly/7ODl50EFxTQ

PARTNERS FOR JUSTICE CONFERENCE Register Now ATTEND Schedule SPEAKERS Sponsors Keynote Free Webinars SHARE: Share on Facebook Facebook Share on Linkedin Linkedin Share on Twitter Twitter May 10-14, 2021   The Partners for Justice Conference takes place annually, and presents a unique opportunity fo...

"You all do such amazing work and have brought the organization along so much in the past several years.  I am so proud ...
05/05/2021

"You all do such amazing work and have brought the organization along so much in the past several years. I am so proud to be a Washington Council of Lawyers member!" ~ Jodi Feldman, Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.

This year we are celebrating not only our 50th Anniversary, but also being named Voluntary Bar Association of the Year by the D.C. Bar! Right now we are in the midst of our 50 Days for 50 Years membership drive. Join us before May 19th, and you'll get two years of membership for the cost of just one year. Join us now as we celebrate these amazing achievements! More info: https://wclawyers.org/join/ #50YearsStrong

"You all do such amazing work and have brought the organization along so much in the past several years. I am so proud to be a Washington Council of Lawyers member!" ~ Jodi Feldman, Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.

This year we are celebrating not only our 50th Anniversary, but also being named Voluntary Bar Association of the Year by the D.C. Bar! Right now we are in the midst of our 50 Days for 50 Years membership drive. Join us before May 19th, and you'll get two years of membership for the cost of just one year. Join us now as we celebrate these amazing achievements! More info: https://wclawyers.org/join/ #50YearsStrong

Did you know yesterday was the #SupremeCourt’s last argument day of the 2020 term? That means our annual #SCOTUSPress ev...
05/05/2021

Did you know yesterday was the #SupremeCourt’s last argument day of the 2020 term? That means our annual #SCOTUSPress event is approaching quickly! On July 7, from 3:00 to 4:30 pm, listen to Supreme Court experts from leading media orgs unpack major cases from this term and share their thoughts on the upcoming one. Cost is $10 for our members and members of co-sponsoring organizations; $15 for public interest/government lawyers; and $20 for all other attendees. Join and/or register now! #WashLawyers #SCOTUSPress21 https://wclawyers.org/sct-press-gallery-2021/

Did you know yesterday was the #SupremeCourt’s last argument day of the 2020 term? That means our annual #SCOTUSPress event is approaching quickly! On July 7, from 3:00 to 4:30 pm, listen to Supreme Court experts from leading media orgs unpack major cases from this term and share their thoughts on the upcoming one. Cost is $10 for our members and members of co-sponsoring organizations; $15 for public interest/government lawyers; and $20 for all other attendees. Join and/or register now! #WashLawyers #SCOTUSPress21 https://wclawyers.org/sct-press-gallery-2021/

Today's Well-Being Week In Law theme is career and intellectual well-being. Today we encourage you watch this short ente...
05/05/2021

Today's Well-Being Week In Law theme is career and intellectual well-being. Today we encourage you watch this short entertaining video that summarizes the book "Flow" by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly. The book proposes fostering more "flow" (a state of complete absorption in engaging activities that are optimally challenging) in our daily lives, stating that it is a key to growth and happiness. Let us know your thoughts in the comments or using #WellbeingWeekinLaw. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8h6IMYRoCZw

Today's Well-Being Week In Law theme is career and intellectual well-being. Today we encourage you watch this short entertaining video that summarizes the book "Flow" by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly. The book proposes fostering more "flow" (a state of complete absorption in engaging activities that are optimally challenging) in our daily lives, stating that it is a key to growth and happiness. Let us know your thoughts in the comments or using #WellbeingWeekinLaw. Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8h6IMYRoCZw

Last month we hosted, "Redefining Success: Empowering Client-Centered Representation: Recap & Resources." Panelists offe...
05/04/2021

Last month we hosted, "Redefining Success: Empowering Client-Centered Representation: Recap & Resources." Panelists offered suggestions on client-centered approaches to counseling and legal strategies; prioritizing client agency and empowering clients through the resolution of their cases. During the discussion three main "themes" emerged: meeting clients where they are; client-centered lawyering and representation; and successful case closure. If you missed this inspiring event, we encourage you to check out our blog for a great recap here: https://wclawyers.org/redefining-success-recap/
#ProBonoPublicoBlog #clientcenteredadvocacy

Last month we hosted, "Redefining Success: Empowering Client-Centered Representation: Recap & Resources." Panelists offered suggestions on client-centered approaches to counseling and legal strategies; prioritizing client agency and empowering clients through the resolution of their cases. During the discussion three main "themes" emerged: meeting clients where they are; client-centered lawyering and representation; and successful case closure. If you missed this inspiring event, we encourage you to check out our blog for a great recap here: https://wclawyers.org/redefining-success-recap/
#ProBonoPublicoBlog #clientcenteredadvocacy

Welcome to the second day of Well-Being Week in Law! Today's principle is spiritual well-being. Spirituality comes in ma...
05/04/2021

Welcome to the second day of Well-Being Week in Law! Today's principle is spiritual well-being. Spirituality comes in many different forms, and it need not correspond to religion. Spirituality can also mean shared beliefs and purpose both at work and in your personal life. Today, we encourage you to watch this video where fellow professionals in the legal field share how they integrate personal spirituality into their work lives. Feel free to share your reactions in the comments or using #WellbeingWeekInLaw. Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AS9571zCqY

Welcome to the second day of Well-Being Week in Law! Today's principle is spiritual well-being. Spirituality comes in many different forms, and it need not correspond to religion. Spirituality can also mean shared beliefs and purpose both at work and in your personal life. Today, we encourage you to watch this video where fellow professionals in the legal field share how they integrate personal spirituality into their work lives. Feel free to share your reactions in the comments or using #WellbeingWeekInLaw. Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AS9571zCqY

Today is the first day of Lawyer Well-Being Week! Our theme for today is “Physical Well-Being.”  Check out this video fr...
05/03/2021

Today is the first day of Lawyer Well-Being Week! Our theme for today is “Physical Well-Being.” Check out this video from Dr. Wendy Suzuki where she talks about how exercise transformed her life and her research about the interconnection between physical activity and peak brain functioning! Watch it here: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/exercise-brain-benefits_n_58176e4be4b0390e69d15b0d #WellbeingWeekInLaw

Today is the first day of Lawyer Well-Being Week! Our theme for today is “Physical Well-Being.” Check out this video from Dr. Wendy Suzuki where she talks about how exercise transformed her life and her research about the interconnection between physical activity and peak brain functioning! Watch it here: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/exercise-brain-benefits_n_58176e4be4b0390e69d15b0d #WellbeingWeekInLaw

Today marks the start of Public Service Recognition Week! This week we’re thanking all government employees for their ha...
05/02/2021

Today marks the start of Public Service Recognition Week! This week we’re thanking all government employees for their hard work on behalf of our country. We also want to say a special thank you to the many government attorneys who dedicate their free time to pro bono service. Your meaningful volunteer work helps to bring greater access to justice for those in need. #psrw #publicservice #probonolawyer

Today marks the start of Public Service Recognition Week! This week we’re thanking all government employees for their hard work on behalf of our country. We also want to say a special thank you to the many government attorneys who dedicate their free time to pro bono service. Your meaningful volunteer work helps to bring greater access to justice for those in need. #psrw #publicservice #probonolawyer

TOMORROW is the start of Well-Being Week in Law! As an ABA wellness pledge member, we are excited to recognize and celeb...
05/02/2021

TOMORROW is the start of Well-Being Week in Law! As an ABA wellness pledge member, we are excited to recognize and celebrate this week by sharing resources and activities around five principles of wellness: physical, spiritual, social, and emotional well-being. Tune in on all of our social media channels (and our blog) throughout the week, and engage with us using #WellbeingWeekInLaw.

TOMORROW is the start of Well-Being Week in Law! As an ABA wellness pledge member, we are excited to recognize and celebrate this week by sharing resources and activities around five principles of wellness: physical, spiritual, social, and emotional well-being. Tune in on all of our social media channels (and our blog) throughout the week, and engage with us using #WellbeingWeekInLaw.

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Council members represent every sector of the Washington legal community -- lawyers and pro bono coordinators from law firms and law schools, lawyers from public interest groups, government agencies and congressional offices, as well as law students and members of law-related professions.

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