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Standing Committee on Professionalism

2024 E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award Recipient

DC Affordable Law Firm- Accessible Legal Services and Fellowship Program (DCALF)

DC Affordable Law Firm (DCALF) was founded in 2015 to disrupt the traditional model of delivering civil legal services, which, as essential as they are, serve those already in crisis and living with very low to no household income. This traditional approach leaves thousands of modest wage-earning DC residents with nowhere to turn when facing a legal issue, forcing situations to fall into disarray before help is secured. DCALF’s innovative model serves these hard-working DC residents by providing affordable and – as of 2022 – free, family law, probate, estate planning, and immigration legal services. DCALF provides this legal advice and representation at key moments in a legal situation before rights and assets are stripped away, helping to upend historical injustices. In many cases, our attorneys can secure thoughtful settlements to spare clients from emotionally draining litigation.

Importantly, DCALF not only addresses a critical gap in justice for DC residents, but – from the organization’s inception – DCALF has played an essential role in launching the careers of the next generation of public interest attorneys through its distinctive annual, 15-month Fellowship program. DCALF’s legal services are provided by a network of fellow attorneys and senior associates. Over the course of our 15-month fellowship, our fellows gain invaluable work experience and mentorship from veteran attorneys, all while earning a competitive public interest legal salary. To date, 72% of DCALF alumni have remained in public interest, public service, or a practice area learned at DCALF post- fellowship, bringing their commitments to public interest to other organizations serving underrepresented populations.