The Fellowship Experience

  • “My fellowship at the DC Affordable Law Firm gave me invaluable experience both in and out of court. In my first year of practice, I was able to litigate multiple trials and contested hearings in family law cases. I learned to advocate through written filings, negotiations, and the discovery process and to counsel my clients through difficult decisions. The combination of the three-month training program and on-the-ground litigation experience helped me develop my lawyering skills quickly, and these skills have carried me into a career in legal services. Above all, I deeply value the relationships I built with supervisors, co-workers, and clients as we worked to expand access to justice.” — Caroline F.
  • “When I began my fellowship with the DC Affordable Law Firm, I didn’t realize how critical it would be to my path as an attorney. The program started out with something so rarely able to be offered in the public interest world – three months of high-quality training covering the major practice areas. And my time during the fellowship gave me unparalleled opportunities to engage meaningfully with clients and actually practice in court. Both the training and the practical experience made it possible for me end up where I am now, managing the immigration and child advocacy practices at a D.C. legal services organization. For any Georgetown law student interested in jumping into the D.C. legal service ecosystem, I can’t think of a better place to start.” — Richard K.
  • “DCALF provided me with the foundational experience necessary to embark on my direct services career and truly become an advocate for my clients. I learned invaluable litigation skills and gained client counseling abilities that have assisted me significantly in my post-DCALF work. The structure of the DCALF model taught me how to effectively collaborate with others in intense litigation and how to critically assess complex issues in ways that provide creative solutions for our clients.” — Julia W.

A Client’s Perspective: Ms. L.

Few words would adequately describe the invaluable resources I received during this tenure of our professional relationship on the referral on my divorce logistics case with you. It is not less than “heaven sent”… I was facing a total breakdown, despite the heroic efforts of the Court’s great mediation process. Facing my future Ex’s non-cooperative behavior, in addition to facing eviction and possible homelessness with my two daughters. I have not needed to work a job, because my husband required me to be a full-time Mother. So when the referral service recommended to me your name and services, I was elated, joyful, grateful, and humbled. You have been all that and more during these last several weeks. God knows the challenges I face. Now, I am confident, concise in thinking, ready to take on the next steps, and capable of providing for my daughters’ well-being, because of you. I feel greater to lead us to a successful journey of independence. Your endeavors have given us an invaluable gift for the end of the year moving forward. I am so grateful for your efforts and especially your compassion. — Ms. L.

A Client’s Story: Ms. S.

Ms. S. came to DCALF seeking assistance with divorce, custody, child support, and a protection order. Ms. S. and her former spouse were married for more than a decade. Ms. S. is an immigrant and felt she had few natural supports or connections to the DC community. For years, Ms. S. was the victim of physically assaults, threats, and stalking from her former spouse, which only increased in severity after Ms. S. filed for divorce in early 2016. Ms. S. made too much money to qualify for legal aid but she could not afford her private attorney.

On Ms. S.’s behalf, DCALF entered an extremely litigious court case, with multiple depositions and more than two weeks of trial. In the end, DCALF achieved a divorce for Ms. S. and helped her secure a sizeable alimony and child support award, and final-decision making in legal custody. When her former spouse appealed the case, DCALF was able to secure a pro bono attorney to represent Ms. S. in the appeal. When Ms. S.’s former spouse’s harassment continued, DCALF represented her in a multi-day trial to obtain a civil protection order and succeeded in securing the protections she sought.

With the amount of litigation across Ms. S.’s cases, another attorney would have charged her well over $100,000, which she could not have afforded with an annual income of less than $30,000. DCALF worked with Ms. S. to create reasonable and affordable payment plans in light of her circumstances, all while continuing to provide her with substantial amounts of pro bono representation to keep her costs reasonable. Here is Ms. S.’s unedited testimonial regarding her work with DCALF:

I would like to say special thank you to all lawyers at DCALF. Especially those who were on my cases and still working with me. They are not only my lawyers, but also people who I can rely on and trust the most. My lawyers were so dedicated to me that I felt that I’m the only client. They always listen to my concerns, suggestions, questions and of course my tears 🙂 they are always there for me. Another part that I can’t forget is that it is a low cost organization. At the very beginning I was stuck in between two fires: I couldn’t get a Pro bono lawyer and I couldn’t afford to pay a regular lawyer. I was send by my judge to see DCALF lawyers, so I did. This is how my journey had begun almost 5 years ago. I’m so thankful that I was represented by lawyers from this organization. I don’t think I could’ve found better outcome in anyway with someone else. Thank you again to all of you DCALF. — Ms. S.