Our Story

Judith Sandalow, the executive director of the Children’s Law Center, initially came up with the idea to create a nonprofit “low bono” law firm to help serve this population. She suggested to Georgetown Law Professor Peter Edelman that Georgetown take the lead in developing the concept. Little by little, the concept became reality.  With the support of Dean William Treanor and now Vice Dean Jane Aiken, Georgetown provided 15-month stipends for six Georgetown Law graduates and offered the graduates a free LLM program in advocacy. With support from Marc Fleischaker, its Chair Emeritus, Arent Fox provided office space; the DLA Piper Foundation provided an initial grant; and lawyers in both law firms will be giving substantial training, mentoring and case supervision support.  Sheldon Krantz, a retired DLA Partner, is serving as DCALF’s Executive Director on a pro bono basis. Ken Starling, another retired DLA Piper partner, is serving as Senior Counsel.The DC Affordable Law Firm (“DCALF”) was created in 2015 as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable entity by Georgetown University Law Center and two major law firms, DLA Piper and Arent Fox. Its mission is to serve D.C. residents who have been largely ignored: Those with modest incomes who do not qualify for free legal aid and cannot afford the rates lawyers normally charge.  Conservative estimates suggest that well over 100,000 people in the District fall within this category.  This helps explain why over 90% of those who appear in the District’s Landlord/Tenant and Family Courts appear without counsel.

After 12 weeks of intensive apprenticeship-type training , DCALF began taking housing, family law, immigration, and small business clients in December 2015.  The firm will be undertaking extensive social science research to assess the effectiveness of its services and to assess whether its model can be replicated elsewhere. The initial talented group of six graduates—Jenny Bazzell, Jessie Berger, Chris Griesedieck, Tabitha King, Gene Sowa, and Samantha Williams—was selected out of a highly competitive group of 39 applicants.

 

Our Mission

The DC Affordable Law Firm is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides affordable legal services to DC residents whose incomes fall between 200% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level. We are committed to helping individuals and families who cannot afford legal representation, but who also do not qualify for free legal assistance. We charge reduced rates for our legal services to try and reach DC residents who fall within this gap.

We seek to create a sustainable, low bono model for making access to lawyers a reality for DC’s underserved populations.