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The mission of the DC Volunteers Lawyers Project is to create, support, and utilize a network of volunteer lawyers to provide high-quality, pro bono legal services to low-income individuals in the District of Columbia who are domestic violence victims, at-risk children, or have other urgent family law needs.
The DC Access to Justice Commission has issued an urgent call for more pro bono lawyers to represent low-income residents in the District. In its report, entitled Justice for All? An Examination of the Civil Legal Needs of the District of Columbia’s Low-Income Community, the Commission found "what many in our community know all too well - unaddressed civil legal problems can have a devastating impact on a person or family, and there are far too few legal resources available to help people in need." The statistics are shocking, particularly in family law cases. In DC Superior Court:
- Over 90% of the parties in civil protection order cases have no lawyer
- 77% of people seeking custody of their children or a divorce proceed without counsel
- 38% of people seeking to adopt children have to represent themselves in court
Surely, we can do better. Founded in 2008 as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the DCVLP addresses the urgent need for more pro bono family law lawyers. DCVLP recruits, trains and supports lawyers to handle family law cases on a pro-bono basis for low-income DC residents, particularly domestic violence survivors and children in disputed custody cases. DCVLP offers volunteers various resources, including malpractice insurance, office meeting space, a mailing address for correspondence, and reimbursement for litigation expenses; furthermore, our staff attorneys mentor every volunteer on a personal basis.