Legal Aid is proud to announce that the head of our Pro Bono and Training Programs, Jodi Feldman, will be the recipient of the Washington Council of Lawyers’ inaugural Legal Services Award, which recognizes the outstanding work of the lawyers who serve in the public-interest community.
Jodi is more than deserving of this recognition as she has dedicated the vast majority of her career to public service – the last 13-plus years of it specifically to ensuring greater access to justice for individuals and families living in poverty in the District of Columbia.
This award recognizes individuals who exhibit one or more of the following qualities: (1) a lawyer whose work benefits low-income or otherwise marginalized clients in the DC metro area; (2) an individual who supports the DC public interest community in improving access to justice for those who cannot afford a lawyer, or who has worked to unite the public-interest, pro-bono, and government communities around this goal; or, (3) an advocate who has gone above and beyond the normal requirements of their job to assist persons in need or has thought and worked creatively to resolve difficult legal issues.
Jodi has done so much to benefit our client community, to support the legal services community, and to expand access to justice in the District of Columbia by increasing the capacity of the private sector and governmental attorneys to handle pro bono legal services matters. She has gone well above and beyond the call of duty in her service to Legal Aid, to the larger D.C. legal services community, and to the clients that we collectively serve.
Furthermore, Jodi is essentially single-handedly responsible for Legal Aid’s robust Pro Bono Program as we know it. Jodi led the charge to establish Legal Aid’s formal pro bono policies and procedures, and she has spent the past decade refining them to suit the needs of our clients and our pro bono partners. Her efforts have been met with incredible success: Last year, Legal Aid referred more than 120 full representation matters to pro bono attorneys, with pro bono attorneys reporting a record-breaking 36,000 billable hours valued at more than $16.5 million dollars of pro bono attorney time.
In addition, as the long-time leader of Legal Aid’s intern program, she has been a model of what the Washington Council of Lawyers seeks to encourage: fostering a sense of enthusiasm and a commitment to excellence among an incoming generation of public interest lawyers.
Jodi is, in sum, the quintessential “unsung hero” — her efforts have often been organizational, seemingly workaday, and largely behind the scenes, but as a result of them, the lives of hundreds if not thousands of our most vulnerable neighbors have been meaningfully and positively impacted. Children remain in their homes, domestic violence survivors are safe, the elderly have received the medicine they need and to which they are entitled under the law because of Jodi’s indefatigable efforts.
We hope you will join us in congratulating Jodi, and her fellow WCL award winners, on their much-deserved recognition!