One of the bedrock functions of pro bono work is to provide legal counsel to those who are unable to pay for it. At Akin Gump, our attorneys work with the indigent and homeless in our communities in order to help them with a wide variety of issues that are a function of, or exacerbated by, their poverty or lack of fixed abode.
One example is the work that the firm’s D.C. office has done in partnership with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless (WLCH). WLCH has been working since 1986 to provide basic legal services to the homeless population of the District of Columbia, and, since the late 1990s, Akin Gump’s work with the organization has run the gamut from litigation against the D.C. government on behalf of mentally disabled residents whose disability funds had been criminally misspent by a city contractor to bimonthly legal intakes at which up to a dozen new clients are seen and their legal needs discussed.
Similarly, in order to ensure that low-income clients receive public disability benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), to which they are legally entitled, Akin Gump has developed the “SSI SWAT team,” three-lawyer groups comprising a partner and two associates that receive and resolve cases screened by the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Clinic. This strategy has allowed the firm to process a large volume of cases and train new lawyers in critical pro bono-related skills under the supervision of a seasoned attorney.
Across the country our lawyers work with local legal services organizations, such as Public Counsel in Los Angeles, the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, the Houston Volunteer Lawyer Project and the Legal Aid Society of New York, to assist those members of our communities most in need.