“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 31: 8-9
There is a paradox in our city.
DC has the largest concentration of lawyers in the country; yet, there continues to be an enormous, unmet need for legal services among the poor and needy of our city. According to a 2016 ABA, there are 52,711 active attorneys in DC. And according to a 2017 Point In Time homeless count, there are 7,473 homeless people in DC. In fact, DC has the highest homeless rate of 32 major U.S. cities according a recent article in The Washington Post. If you breakdown the numbers, there are close to 7 attorneys for each homeless person in DC alone! Why then, does the demand for affordable, quality legal services outweigh the supply?
CLADC seeks to bridge this gap. We want to serve as a connector between the untapped resources of the legal community and the need for legal aid in our city. To be sure, we believe quality legal aid can and should be provided by more people regardless of their faith background. As attorneys, we have skills and a powerful platform to effect positive change in society. But as Christians, our worldview and motivations are shaped by our experience and realization of God's grace freely given to us. And as Christian attorneys, this leads us to a heart for the poor and a desire to leverage our resources to do justice and speak up for those without a voice.
We want to challenge the traditional notions of legal aid by not only addressing the symptoms of poverty through our monthly legal aid clinics, but also by shedding light on the systemic issues and root causes that keep people in the cycle of poverty with the hope that we can spur others to take action beyond volunteering once a month. Further, we aim to provide a concrete way for Christians to engage the world by expressing their faith through advancing social justice. At the same time, we hope to provide a way to thoughtfully partner with organizations and individuals of any background who share the same vision of advancing justice for the poor and needy. In sum, we hope to redefine legal aid as a matter of doing justice, not simply providing charity. It's not a nice-to-have; it's simply the right thing to do. To those whom much is given, much is expected.
We invite you to join us.