Chinh Le, Legal Director
Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia
“The unlimited access to Bloomberg Law allows Legal Aid attorneys to be able to engage the substantive legal issues in our cases deeply and to explore different avenues of research.”
Bloomberg Law and the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia have been partners for several years now. For those reading this who may be unfamiliar, could you begin by telling us who you are and describing the mission of your organization?
Sure. My name is Chinh Le, and I am the legal director at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. Our organization is the oldest and largest general civil legal services provider in the district. Legal Aid’s mission is to make justice real — in individual and systemic ways — for people living in poverty in D.C.
What does everyday practice look like at Legal Aid?
We provide free civil legal services to people who cannot afford a lawyer. The largest part of our work consists of direct representation in housing, family/ domestic violence, public benefits, and consumer law. We also work on immigration law matters and help individuals with the collateral consequences of their involvement with the criminal justice system. From the experiences of our clients, we identify opportunities for law reform, public policy advocacy, and systemic reform litigation.
Tell us more about systemic advocacy. What role does it play in your practice?
As part of our appellate advocacy project, we litigate cases in the D.C. Court of Appeals. We also engage in legislative and other policy advocacy involving the D.C. Council and agencies in the district. For example, we may help an individual obtain food stamp benefits, but we may also advocate to improve the systems for delivery of food stamps and recertification of benefits.
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What’s the primary benefit of Bloomberg Law to your practice?
Many of our attorneys come from an environment where they have to be judicious about utilizing research resources. The unlimited access to Bloomberg Law allows Legal Aid attorneys to be able to engage the substantive legal issues in our cases deeply and to explore different avenues of research – for example, investigating the nuances of less common defenses to certain claims.
What resources does Legal Aid use?
There are more than 60 attorneys at Legal Aid and they probably all use Bloomberg Law a bit differently. I’d say the heart of our research is primary sources such as statutes and codes, as well as secondary case law research. I think the people who use these resources the most are the attorneys who litigate in D.C. Superior Court or federal District Court. These resources are critical to us providing high-quality legal services to our clients.
Are there other resources on Bloomberg Law that the attorneys find valuable?
Our attorneys appreciate the value Bloomberg Law brings with timely updates and resources on key issues. One very timely example: Given how much and how often court practices have been modified during the pandemic, our attorneys have especially appreciated that Bloomberg Law maintains a database that tracks court orders and notices in response to Covid-19.
If you had to sum the value of your relationship with Bloomberg Law in a single sentence for other legal aid organizations, what would you say?
We are very lucky to be able to hire attorneys who are extremely passionate about social justice and Legal Aid’s mission, but Bloomberg Law supplements and bolsters that commitment and dedication by equipping them with the information they need to be the zealous advocates our clients deserve.