Recognition from the Court
OPEN LETTER TO THE 2019 CAPITAL PRO BONO HONOR ROLL REGISTRANTS FROM CHIEF JUDGE ANNA BLACKBURNE-RIGSBY AND CHIEF JUDGE ANITA JOSEY-HERRING
On behalf of the District of Columbia Courts, in partnership with the D.C. Access to Justice Commission and the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, we want to express our profound appreciation to each of you who qualified for recognition on the 2019 Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll. As you may know, since 2011 the Courts have recognized attorneys who have contributed fifty hours or more of pro bono work to those who cannot afford legal counsel. As Chief Judges, we are acutely aware of the severe hardships faced by low-income individuals who all too frequently must represent themselves in proceedings in the DC Courts, often against represented parties. We are also aware of the growing need for access to pro bono services as thousands of District residents confront the stresses of reduced income and new legal challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We salute you for using your talents and expertise to help those unable to afford an attorney, and rely on your continued dedication and compassion in the face of new challenges to ensure equal access to justice.
Each year we are deeply moved by the incredible number of registrants for the Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll. In 2019, 4,977 attorneys registered for the Honor Roll, with 2,943 (nearly 60%) providing one hundred hours or more of pro bono service and thus qualifying for the High Honor Roll. This represents at least 396,000 hours of pro bono service. It is deeply gratifying to see that the DC Bar members’ commitment to pro bono spans across all different aspects of practice. The 2019 Honor Roll members represent all sectors of our diverse legal community, hailing from 176 law firms and individual practices, as well as federal and local government agencies, corporations, associations, law schools and public interest organizations.
We are tremendously proud of the robust tradition of pro bono service by attorneys in the District of Columbia. We applaud those who embrace their ethical obligation, as contained in Rule 6.1 of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct, to perform at least fifty hours of pro bono work annually (or to contribute to organizations that provide legal representation to those unable to afford counsel). The District of Columbia is fortunate to have a truly extraordinary cadre of legal services organizations whose attorneys work tirelessly every day to make access to justice a reality. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can only anticipate the severity and urgency of the need for pro bono service increasing, and also understand the pandemic has likely impacted many 2019 Honor Roll members greatly. The continued dedicated work of pro bono counsel is simply indispensable to our civil justice system. It will take all of us, working together, to make our civil justice system truly accessible.
Thank you for answering – and in many cases exceeding – the call to service embodied by Rule 6.1. We know that your service is based not only from a commitment to your ethical obligations but also on your principled belief in equal access to justice. We are proud to recognize your dedication by the addition of your name to this year’s Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll
Sincerely,Anna Blackburne-RigsbyChief JudgeDistrict of Columbia Court of Appeals
Anita Josey-HerringChief JudgeSuperior Court of the District of Columbia