Pro bono service is a core value of Van Ness Feldman – a key part of our commitment to public service. Our core pro bono areas seek to balance our commitment to our local community – the District of Columbia, the Pacific Northwest, and, as a national law firm, to the nation as a whole. Below are recent examples of the firm’s pro bono work.
Asylum Cases – The firm represents persons seeking asylum in the United States on the grounds that if they were returned to their home countries, they would suffer death, torture or imprisonment solely because of their beliefs. The firm partners with the Catholic Charities, which screens the cases and supports our attorneys.
Housing – In a partnership with D.C. Law Students in the Courts, the firm represents homeowners who have been subjected to improper treatment by financial institutions and tenants whose rights have been violated by landlords.
Legislative Lobbying – College and Community Fellowship is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting female prisoners in federal prisons prepare for life after they are released. One of the barriers the prisoners face is that existing federal law prohibits them from accessing federal education funds to pay for on-line courses, books, etc., which severely limits their ability to obtain degrees, even though studies have shown that a person who earns a bachelor’s degree while in prison is 50 percent less likely to return to prison than those who did not. The firm is using its legislative lobbying capability to seek to persuade Congress to lift this prohibition.
Children’s Issues – The firm assisted both the National PTA and the National Network for Youth in drafting legislation to further their organizations’ goals. We assisted the PTA with drafting comprehensive legislation requiring school districts to fully involve parents in their programs and providing them with financial assistance to do so. The firm assisted the National Network for Youth with legislation to prohibit judges from incarcerating youth just because they were homeless. The firm received awards from both organizations for its work on their behalf.
Disabled Veterans Benefits Appeal Cases – The firm represents individual veterans who have been denied disability payments by helping them to appeal the decision against them to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Appeals. The cases are referred to the firm by the Veterans Appeals Consortium.
NextStep – NextStep, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization, provides the opportunity for life-long health and recovery for people living with paralysis and mobility impairments in communities nationwide by developing outpatient facilities, particularly in communities with a concentration of wounded veterans, so that they do not have to uproot their lives and families to move to a city with an in-patient facility to obtain the most effective treatment for regaining the use of their arms and legs. The firm uses its knowledge of the federal government to assist NextStep in drafting proposals to federal agencies to access federal funding and other programs to support its goals.
Sprout Therapeutic Riding Stable – Sprout is a not-for-profit organization that provides therapeutic riding services, also known as equine assisted therapy, to children and adults with physical and mental disabilities. A particular focus is on wounded veterans because equine assisted psychotherapy has proven to be an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress. The firm’s first pro bono work for Sprout involved assisting it in its application for 501(c)(3) non-profit certification from the IRS. After successfully accomplishing that task, the firm used its knowledge of and relationships with various agencies of the federal government to identify potential sources of funding and draft proposals and grant applications to agencies and private foundations to support the services Sprout provides. Finally, the firm used its strategic planning expertise to assist Sprout develop a long-term strategic plan and budget.