On Tuesday afternoon, lawyers from firms across Washington, DC gathered at Sidley Austin LLP for “Ending Homelessness through Pro Bono Work,” hosted by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.
The event began with a panel discussion featuring partners from law firms who have contributed significant pro bono resources to the Law Center’s work. Suzanne Turner of Dechert LLP spoke of the firm’s work on issues relating to unaccompanied homeless youth, access to education for homeless children and youth, and the human right to housing. Peter Thomas of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP provided a detailed explanation of the firm’s work on housing provisions of the Violence Against Women Act – noting the tremendous policy impact their work with the Law Center has allowed the firm to see. And Patricia Brannan from Hogan Lovells LLP spoke about how the firms involvement with issues related to the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act and homeless persons’ access to voting have offered the firm’s attorneys opportunities for both personal and professional growth.
It was inspiring and humbling to hear of the firms’ commitment to pro bono work and to hear them, as Ms. Brannan put it, understand these projects as “heart of the mission work.” When attorneys participate in pro bono work at the Law Center, they have the opportunity to both contribute to policy change and produce materials that can “actually be used by constituents out in the community.” And, as Ms. Turner pointed out, the need for pro bono work on these issues is “greater than ever.”
During the reception following the panel, DC Bar President Ronald S. Flagg delivered a touching keynote address on the importance of the Law Center’s work and pro bono attorney involvement in the battle to end homelessness. Flagg is a true believer in the power of attorneys to effect large-scale change, and his own pro bono work is a testament to that belief. We are tremendously grateful to Mr. Flagg, and to all of our panelists, for sharing their pro bono experiences.
Last year, through the support of major law firms, the work of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty was amplified by more than $2 million worth of pro bono support, and by the financial support of its LEAP firms. This donation of time and resources helped create key policy changes and reinforced the existing laws designed to prevent and end homelessness.
To all of our supporting firms, we say a HUGE thank you. Your work is changing lives.