DC Refers

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DC Refers Steering Committee member Andrea Ferster recognized as top innovator, visionary and leader

July 9, 2018 ― Washington, DC

Legal publisher Fastcase today announced the company’s annual list of “Fastcase 50” honorees. Selected from online nominations, the award recognizes the year’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries, and leaders in the law. Many of the 2018 honorees are pioneers in the areas of access to justice, artificial intelligence, and visualization tools for legal data.

Andrea Ferster is a public interest advocate in private practice who works to enforce federal environmental laws on behalf of local governments and citizens groups, and serves as General Counsel for the Rails to Trails Conservancy, which helps turn old railway tracks into pedestrian and bike paths. Motivated by the idea that lawyers are agents of social change, Andrea, as Past President of the D.C. Bar, developed programs to encourage members to participate in pro bono service. Now she helps lead The DC Reduced Fee Lawyer & Mediator Referral Service (DC Refers), a 501(c)(3) working to connect lawyers with modest-means clients seeking low-cost legal services. The service fills a gap for clients who don’t qualify for legal aid, but who nevertheless struggle to afford traditional legal services.

View the full list of 2018 winners here.

DC Refers Launched

February 22, 2017 ― Washington, DC

The DC Reduced Fee Lawyer & Mediator Referral Service (“DC Refers”) is pleased to announce the launch of an online directory of reduced fee lawyers.

The mission of DC Refers is to connect clients who need affordable legal and mediation services with qualified attorneys. As its pilot project, DC Refers is launching an online directory of pre-screened attorneys willing to charge reduced fees to modest-means clients with incomes falling within 200-400% of the federal poverty guidelines. Modest-means clients will use the online directory to access a list of reduced fee lawyers who may be available to represent, advise, or help them on a broad range of legal matters.

“The need for affordable legal services for people of modest means in DC is great,” notes Steering Committee member Nancy Lopez, Executive Director of Washington Council of Lawyers. “People who earn too much to afford free legal services, but not enough to pay market rates for representation have very few options when faced with housing, family law, domestic violence, debt collection, probate, or other legal troubles.”

“We have been aware for quite some time of the access to justice gap for those who earn too much to receive free legal services but who find it profoundly challenging to find competent counsel to represent them in potentially life-changing cases,” said Eric Angel, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, D.C.’s oldest and largest general civil legal services program. “We are hopeful that this new directory is an important step in the right direction.”

Andrea Ferster, co-chair of DC Refers and past president of the D.C. Bar, hopes that the online directory will become a trusted resource for legal service organizations, court-based resource centers, and private attorneys, who will now have a place to send people of modest means.

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The DC Refers directory is an online listing of qualified attorneys who are willing to represent modest-means clients at below-market rates.

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