The DC Volunteer Lawyers Project was founded by Jenny Brody, Karen Barker Marcou and Marla Spindel to help address the unmet family law needs of low-income people in Washington, DC, by recruiting, training and supporting volunteer attorneys.
After leaving the full-time practice of law to raise their families, the three founders started taking pro bono family law cases on their own. They soon discovered how difficult it was for an individual lawyer to handle pro bono cases due to the lack of resources -- such as a place to meet privately with clients -- and the costs of online legal research, litigation expenses and individual malpractice insurance. Also, they missed the collegiality and support of practicing law with partners who could provide back-up in an emergency and discuss practice tips and case strategies together.
None of the existing legal services organizations offer all of the resources and support non-law firm attorneys need to provide high-quality, cost-effective representation to indigent clients. Suspecting that there were other at-home lawyers who wanted to do pro bono family law work, Jenny, Karen and Marla founded the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project in January of 2008.
The DCVLP's first organizational meeting attracted over thirty lawyers from notices on school listserves and by word-of-mouth. Since then, the DCVLP has grown to over four hundred volunteer lawyers and provided thousands of hours of pro bono legal services to low-income Washingtonians.