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Georgetown Law, Arent Fox and DLA Piper Create Nonprofit Law Firm

April 13, 2015 —

Georgetown University Law Center, Arent Fox LLP and DLA Piper LLP (US) have launched the D.C. Affordable Law Firm (DCALF), a nonprofit low bono law firm in the District of Columbia. DCALF will provide affordable, high quality legal services to D.C. residents who do not qualify for free legal aid and to small businesses and nonprofits in the District. The anticipated opening date is October 2015.

“We are proud to join this partnership,” said Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor. “The law firm will enable people of very limited means to receive the legal representation they need.  We hope that DCALF will inspire others in the legal profession, that it will be a model that others will follow, and that it will promote greater collaboration between the private bar, the academic community and legal aid providers in confronting the access to justice gap.”

Georgetown Law will provide 15-month fellowships to six of its graduating students to work in the firm in each of the next three academic years, and offer a related cost-free LL.M program to lawyers in the firm. Arent Fox will provide space for the firm and physical and technological support. DLA Piper will take the lead in training the new lawyers and establishing the firm’s policies and procedures. The three organizations collectively will provide more than $1 million in financial and pro bono support annually over the next three years.

“We’re thrilled to host DCALF in Arent Fox’s D.C. office,” said Marc Fleischaker, partner and chair emeritus at Arent Fox. “This new firm will help meet the needs of D.C. residents seeking affordable legal services. We hope it will also encourage a greater numbers of lawyers to devote their careers to serving these populations by providing the level and quality of training, mentoring and supervision necessary to ensure that high quality services are rendered.”

“There are tens of thousands of D.C. residents who struggle with legal crises such as eviction, debt collection, and family disputes such as divorce and child custody; as well as the myriad issues faced by vulnerable populations like the elderly,” said Benjamin Boyd, co-managing partner of DLA Piper’s Washington, D.C. office. “In our complex legal system, a lawyer’s assistance can make an enormous difference on these issues, but a substantial slice of D.C. residents neither qualify for free representation nor can they afford a lawyer. This gap in access to justice is wide and DCALF will work to fill that void.”

Sheldon Krantz, a retired DLA Piper attorney and adjunct professor at Georgetown Law, will serve as the executive director of the firm during its first year. 

As Krantz notes, “At the end of their fellowship, along with their months of training, these new lawyers will have something most of their peers lack after only one year of practice – first chair dispute resolution, negotiation and transactional experience, and the gratitude of clients who would otherwise not have a lawyer to help them with their legal needs.”

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