DC Legal Aid Transformations Network
Click below to RSVP for our virtual meeting on December 14, 2022, from 1-4 pm.
Advancing a user-centered system, grounded in wellbeing, anti-racism, and anti-poverty, starting with creating a coordinated intake and referral system in DC and evolving into a “network of networks” for connectivity, alignment, and action.
Why are we here?
It’s challenging to get legal help in the District of Columbia. Too many people in crisis need help, and we don’t make that easy for them. It is understood that wealth and power have the advantage in civil court. Therefore, in June 2021, the DC Bar Foundation brought together nearly 60 legal aid providers, funders, community activists, social services providers, government, technology, and other stakeholders to discuss how to reimagine a more equitable civil justice system in DC. The DC Legal Aid Transformations Network (DC LATN) grew out of this convening.
Who are we?
DC LATN consists of various sectors: legal aid, funders, community activists, health and social services, allied partners, academia, government, philanthropy, media, banking, faith-based, arts, business, and other stakeholders all working together to ensure the legal aid system in DC is accessible and seamless for all clients.
What Do We Do?
Built on social connectedness and coordination among all legal aid providers and allied partners, DC LATN will:
Ensure that the stability and safety of our most vulnerable communities are at the forefront of every decision to better serve them;
Empower our most vulnerable District residences with resources to navigate difficult life circumstances without guilt or shame;
Serve as advocates, leveraging our collective wisdom to guarantee every resident has access to legal aid.
During the June 2022 Convening, small groups gathered to explore how they could better collaborate through the lens of legal aid focus areas. As a result, we formed nine subnetworks to jump-start our “network of networks.”
Consumer Protection / Small Business
Domestic Violence /Sexual Assault Victim Services
Civil Implications of the Criminalization of Communities of Color
We invite you to join a subnetwork that interests you. To be added, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Are Our Immediate Priorities?
Develop and launch a Coordinated Intake and Referral system, which will serve as a point of entry to easily connect our most vulnerable Districts residents with a civil legal services provider, that can offer appropriate representation and/or legal resources and information.
Support our subnetworks to expand and develop their priorities for change.
How Will We work?
Through quarterly convenings, small group collaborations, cross-organizational coordination, and community feedback, we will provide resources that benefit our most vulnerable District residents as early as possible in the areas where assistance is needed. (i.e., legal services, housing, child care, etc.).
The group meets quarterly on the second Wednesday of the month to increase collaboration and transform the delivery of legal aid in the District. Click below to RSVP for our virtual meeting on December 14, 2022, from 1-4 pm.
Highlights From Past Convenings
The DC Bar Foundation brought together 57 legal aid providers, funders, community activists, social service providers, and other stakeholders to discuss how to reimagine a more equitable civil justice system in our City. The DC Legal Aid Transformations network grew out of this convening.
You can learn more about the network's formation and progress by reading the following articles from DCBF's newsletter:
On our March 9, 2022 Quarterly Convening, 40 Network members built community, heard presentations from Network members, and deepened our understanding of how to transform legal services by focusing on "upstream" approaches and centering anti-racism, wellbeing and anti-poverty. Kirra Jarratt shared about the ongoing work of the Design Team, the Network Manager hiring process, and plans for client focus groups in April to improve the intake/referral process. Members discussed the difference between "upstream" work, which identifies problems at their root cause, and "downstream" work, which addresses immediate needs that are the symptoms of those root causes, and people wrote down their expansive visions of upstream work, as well as the barriers to those visions becoming real.
We held our 1st Anniversary Convening for the DC Legal Aid Transformations Network. We welcomed several first-time conveners making this the largest convening to date. Then, Beth Mellen, Lori Leibowitz, Lauren Taylor, and Maya Brennan presented the Upstream Dream: Eviction Diversion or Building a Unicorn in 3 Acts. We had some thought-provoking small group breakout sessions that have now become subnetworks. If you missed the convening, here are the participant agenda and convening slides that will give you an idea of what we covered.
Lastly, we also launched a subnetwork for intake specialists; if you are interested in joining this community, email email@example.com.
On September 14, 2022, the DC Legal Aid Transformations Network welcomed over 58 new conveners as we held our September Convening. It was a full afternoon! Our agenda included an in-depth update on the progress of the Coordinated Intake and Referral System; a celebration of milestones and accomplishments; and Amanda Beacon from Visible Network Labs gave us a detailed overview of the upcoming network survey, which will produce our updated network map. Our breakout sessions allowed participants to build new connections or strengthen the ones they previously made, which will help further the work of the subnetworks. An emerging subnetwork was introduced: Cross-Cutting/Cross-Issues work to help clients with multiple legal needs, and the expertise is at a different organization. If you missed this one, we sure hope you join us for the December Convening. Registration is now open!
In 2021, the Foundation partnered with Visible Network Labs to create a map of DC's civil legal aid network. This mapping displays the existing relationships between organizations within the network and is being used to inform our understanding of how to improve our city's civil legal aid network so that it works for all residents. Click HERE to read Visible Network Labs' full report on the DC Legal Aid Transformations Network and this network mapping exercise.