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Georgetown University Law Center to Open Small Nonprofit Law Firm
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Georgetown University Law Center

Summary: Georgetown University Law Center is opening a small nonprofit law firm with the help of DLA Piper and Arent Fox. The law firm will cater to low-income people that do not qualify for free legal aid.

Georgetown University Law Center is opening a small nonprofit law firm in Washington D.C. to address the need for legal availability to those with lower incomes. Currently, those that are low-income can qualify for free legal aid but those that don’t qualify have difficulty affording any legal aid on their own.


Georgetown is collaborating with DLA Piper and Arent Fox to train and support six lawyers from this years graduating class. The new firm will be called DC Affordable Law Firm  and will start seeing clients in the fall. The 15-month salary for the lawyers of $30,200 is being provided by Georgetown. The lawyers will receive three months of training before working with clients and will receive an LL.M. degree at the end. The salary is available as a fellowship through an existing fund where graduates work in public interest firms and government jobs.

Normal rates for legal services in the DC area are $287 to $478 an hour. The DC Affordable Law Firm plans on charging $50 to $75 an hour for families within 200 to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, but is still fine-tuning the fees. It is estimated that 100,000 people in the DC area will qualify.

The goal for Georgetown, DLA Piper and Arent Fox is to create a program that can be replicated nationwide. They see that people within this income level generally go to court without legal representation for common problems such as evictions, child custody, and veterans’ benefits issues. A 2008 report found that at least 95 percent of tenants in the housing court do not have representation.

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Retired DLA Piper partner Sheldon Krantz will fill the full-time executive director position for no pay. Several other DLA Piper partners and associates will also be involved in the training of the new graduates. Arent Fox has donated the building space for the firm. The objective is to have the firm be self-sufficient in three years.

Sheldon Krantz

Sheldon Krantz

Georgetown professor, Peter Edelman, had the idea for the firm over two years ago. He approached about six law firms, but only Arent Fox jumped on board immediately. DLA Piper joined soon after with the support of Krantz, who is also an adjunct professor at Georgetown. All those involved in building this firm understand the importance that a lawyer can make in the outcome of a case.

Peter Edelman

Peter Edelman


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