Many thanks to all who came out to support Celebration of Service Annual Tribute & Reception '18 on May 17th at the DC Bar.
We recognized those who are giving others a second chance at life.
Read our event wrap-up, peruse our event photo gallery, and raise a toast to our remarkable honorees, staff, and sponsors.
We have much work to do, and we appreciate your involvement. Can you please fill out our Contact Information Survey?
Finally, it's not too late to donate! If we all pitch in, we can do so much more to help those in dire need of services and help grow our Expungement Clinic.
Why care about expungements when the system is so broken?
ONE IN SEVEN DISTRICT RESIDENTS HAS A CRIMINAL RECORD.
Returning citizens and people who have paid their dues (or were innocent in the first place) face dire collateral consequences without recourse to free legal aid. LSIC is one of the few clinics in DC that offers expungement services and trains law students and pro bono volunteers to help. The Expungement Clinic was established in 2015 to help fund indigent member of the public clear and mitigate stigmatizing criminal records.
As anyone who works in public interest legal services can attest, the work we perform for our clients is often a labor of love.
LEARN WHAT'S AT THE HEART OF OUR MISSION.
A FRESH START
+ The Expungement Clinic
A criminal record triggers an avalanche of collateral damage in the lives of the District's most vulnerable. It's a powerful, albeit overlooked, driver of entrenched poverty, chronic homelessness, and crime. Many residents burdened with criminal records have never been convicted of a crime. And arrests, even those resulting in non-convictions, appear on a criminal record unless otherwise expunged, a potentially expensive and lengthy process.
In 2017, our Expungement attorneys helped 386 clients in their journeys to expunge stigmatizing charges from their records and get on the road to employment and a better quality of life.
+ A Unique Model
At the heart of LSIC's direct service model is a commitment to training the next generation of social justice leaders. We pair students from all six District law schools with seasoned attorneys to provide free and low-cost legal services to the city's poor and indigent.
Under the keen guidance of our supervising attorneys, students lead the charge in representing clients through all phases of litigation, from the initial interiew through settlement and trial. In doing so, we help to ensure:
- Finances do not become a barrier to quality, empathetic legal representation.
- A pro bono culture and commitment to public interest law is instilled throughout the area's legal community.
A FAIR FIGHT
+ Equal justice for all
It's a sad truth that people impacted by the justice system are overwhelmingly poor, disproportionately of color, and often grappling with mental illness. At LSIC, each year we encounter hundreds of heartbreaking cases of already vulnerable people made more so by a justice system "blind" to its impact on the lives of marginalized communities.
Since 1972, our criminal defense attorneys and student advocates have protected the rights of poor and indigent people accused of crimes, preserving their dignity and personal liberties, while ensuring that "equal justice for all" isn't just a mantra but a lived reality.
+ Alumni bonds
For many alum, LSIC was a transformational period that helped to launch their professional lives and inspire them to make signficant room within their careers to help those in need.
2018 COS award recipient Don Salzman recalls "the knot in my stomach and my dry throat as I was about to make an opening statement to a jury for the first time in my life. And I remember my supervisor whispering in my ear,'Salzman, you better not screw this up.'"
He also remembers the "intense guidance from his LSIC supervisors and the high standards they set for investigating, brainstorming, preparing, and litigating cases" so that he wouldn't screw up.
+ Safe, affordable housing
In a rapidly gentrifying city, diminished access to affordable housing poses a dire problem to low-income District residents. Our clients live in deplorable conditions, often at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords who illegally charge exorbitant amounts for unsafe, poorly maintained dwellings. Many of the area's low-income residents function as primary caregivers to children and young people, groups who are especially vulnerable to the health and psychological consequences associated with housing uncertainty. The LSIC Civil Department works tirelessly to ensure that the area's poor and indigent don't become the pawns of abusive landlords and property managers. We act as the last line of defense against housing abuse, protecting the vulnerable from unjust evictions and unsafe dwellings as well as unfair rent increases. Moreover, through our public outreach and community advocacy efforts, we also help empower low-income residents to take a bold stand against unjust housing circumstances.
+ Beyond the court room
Social work students coach youth and other vulnerable clients through field placements with our clinic. Pro bono attorneys assist with intakes at re-entry and workforce development sites. Public housing projects and community centers open their doors and resources for LSIC trainings. These collective efforts strengthen the bonds of trust in the neighborhoods we serve.