Beth Mellen Harrison of Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia to Receive 2020 Scoutt Prize

Updated: Aug 18



[District of Columbia, May 5, 2020] – The District of Columbia Bar Foundation has selected Beth Mellen Harrison as the recipient of the 2020 Jerrold Scoutt Prize. Ms. Harrison is one of three supervising attorneys in the Housing Law Unit at Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, and also serves as Director for the organization’s Eviction Defense Project.


The Scoutt Prize is awarded annually to an attorney who has worked for a significant portion of his or her career at a nonprofit organization providing direct, hands-on legal services to poor or disadvantaged persons in the District of Columbia, has demonstrated compassionate concern for his or her clients, and has exhibited a high degree of skill on their behalf.


Ms. Harrison has been representing low-income tenants in the District for 15 years and currently manages Legal Aid’s Eviction Defense Project. She has been a lead architect for the Housing Right to Counsel project, which seeks to increase the number of subsidized housing tenants represented in eviction cases by guaranteeing representation, using a network of legal services and pro bono attorneys. She has tirelessly pursued this project with other partner organizations, analyzing project data exploring how to reach more of the clients in need, and advocating for a dramatic expansion of local funding for eviction defense legal services. Ms. Harrison also regularly advocates on behalf of the city’s most vulnerable residents on issues surrounding rent control, housing affordability, housing conditions, and greater systemic problems with District agencies and legislators, and her policy advocacy includes work on important legislation at the DC Council.


Seth A. Rosenthal, partner at Venable LLP and chair of the DC Bar Foundation’s Scoutt Prize Committee says of Beth: “For over 15 years, Beth Harrison has been a force of nature for housing rights for the people of the District of Columbia—a fierce courtroom advocate, a compassionate client advisor, a dedicated mentor to younger lawyers, a skilled manager, and an accomplished leader of housing policy reform. She is a richly deserving recipient of this year’s Scoutt Prize, and it is the selection committee’s privilege to recognize her.”


Ms. Harrison began her career in 2003 as a law clerk for Judge Catherine C. Blake of the US District Court, after which she was named a Francis D. Murnaghan, Jr. Appellate Advocacy Fellow for the Public Justice Center’s Appellate Advocacy Project in Baltimore, MD, working on cases involving civil rights and poverty law. Since 2005, Ms. Harrison has dedicated her talents to the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, where she has since served as a staff, senior, and supervising attorney. Ms. Harrison has a B.A. from Wellesley College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.


The Jerrold Scoutt Prize was endowed by the Washington, DC firm of Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger, and is named in honor of Jerrold Scoutt, Jr., a founding partner of the firm, in recognition of Mr. Scoutt’s and the firm’s long-term support of legal services. In 2019, Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger merged with Kaplan, Massamillo & Andrews and is now KMA Zuckert LLC. The DC Bar Foundation hopes to present the 2020 Jerrold Scoutt Prize during its 2020 Fall Reception.


About the DC Bar Foundation: For DC residents in poverty, we make strategic investments to strengthen and expand our civil legal aid network, addressing critical needs and improving our community. As the largest funder of civil legal aid in the District, we are a steadfast community partner, committed to protecting access to justice in life’s most pivotal moments.

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