It is with great pleasure that I share the news that Beth Mellen Harrison, co-leader of Legal Aid’s Housing Law Unit, has been recognized as one of D.C.’s Rising Stars by the National Law Journal. Beth is one of 40 “game-changing lawyers age 40 and under” from the private, public, and advocacy sectors in the District.
Beth is an outstanding public interest lawyer and leader in the poverty legal services community. This award is particularly timely as she recently helped launch the new Subsidized Housing Representation Project, a city-wide public interest collaboration between Legal Aid, Bread for the City, and the Legal Counsel for the Elderly to provide urgently needed legal assistance to low-income District residents at risk of losing subsidized housing. This innovative project – which also has an important pro bono component spearheaded by Georgetown Law Professor Peter Edelman and Legal Services Corporation President Jim Sandman – requires leadership, creativity, and coordination among stakeholders on important practical and policy issues, activities for which Beth is uniquely well-suited.
Beth has been with Legal Aid since 2005, and for a decade our clients have benefitted from her comprehensive understanding of local and federal housing law, which she has united with outstanding advocacy skills to preserve safe, affordable housing for hundreds, if not thousands, of low-income D.C. residents over the last decade. In addition to providing leadership for the entire Housing Law Unit, she directs Legal Aid’s participation in the Court-Based Legal Services Project in the D.C. Superior Court’s Landlord-Tenant Branch. Under Beth’s stewardship, that Project – which provides same-day representation to tenants in housing proceedings – has become a vital resource for the thousands of unrepresented tenants who pass through Landlord-Tenant Court annually. In addition, she has used the Project to identify broader trends and develop systemic reform strategies to strengthen tenant protections and expand access to justice.
Prior to joining Legal Aid, Beth was the Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr. Appellate Advocacy Fellow with the Public Justice Center in Baltimore. She also clerked for the Honorable Catherine C. Blake of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Beth received her B.A., summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Wellesley College, and her J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School.
Legal Aid congratulates Beth on this well-deserved recognition!