“Clients don’t stand a chance.”
This was the prevailing sentiment in 1968 amongst forward thinking attorneys, judges, and Law School Deans who sought to create a program that would improve the quality of justice available to the vast majority of small-claims defendants who could not afford legal representation. Together, they fought for the creation of D.C. Law Students in Court (now known as Rising for Justice) an organization that would address the inequality experienced by people living below the poverty line in small claims and landlord tenant cases.
At that time, less than 2% of all defendants facing eviction at Landlord-Tenant court had legal representation, while 90% of all plaintiffs had a skilled attorney by their side.
In the 50 years Rising for Justice has served the District, it has remained, at its core, an organization committed to improving the quality of justice experienced by those who may have otherwise gone unrepresented.
D.C. Law Students in Court, the predecessor of Rising for Justice, was formed in 1969 to address this disparity, in partnership with American University Washington College of Law, The Catholic University Columbus School of Law, The George Washington University School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, the Howard University School of Law and eventually the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law.
In 1972, a criminal defense practice was added, and subsequent innovative expansions have included the Eviction Defense Services, Civil Protection Order Project, the Immigration Defense Program, the Expungement Clinic, and our Social Work Program.
Today, Rising for Justice annually represents close to 4,000 clients in grave legal jeopardy through the combined efforts of law students, staff attorneys, clinical social workers, and social work students.