Name a problem in the District—one for which a lawyer’s prowess would be particularly helpful—and DC Appleseed is probably on it.
The local nonprofit has been deploying pro-bono lawyers to chip away at the city’s peskiest problems for nearly 20 years.
The organization “tries to be responsive to what’s going on in the city,” to find the issues most worth its attention, says executive director Walter Smith. Of late, those issues have included reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the city and suggesting the best approach for cleaning up the Anacostia River. DC Appleseed also pushes for public policies that support District budget autonomy and jobs for residents—and Smith said the team exists to build on and synthesize the work of other groups.
The nonprofit has leveraged hundreds of lawyers’ hours toward issues much larger than its seven-person staff. With an ever-evolving slate of D.C. problems, we talked to Smith about the issues that matter most now.