Three GW Law students participated in a successful pro bono case in which the D.C. government sued a local resident — a mother of two school-age children — for committing fraud by sending her children to D.C. public schools while she was allegedly living in Maryland. The D.C. government sought to recover over $100,000 from the local resident for tuition "back-payments." After meeting the client through the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program, Daniel Singer, JD '11, was convinced that the local resident was living in D.C. during the time period in question. He took on the pro bono case through his firm, Trombly & Singer, PLLC , and sought help from GW Law students – all of whom are 2Ls. Madeline DiLascia-Azia, Mariam Arbabi, and Michael Duncanson responded to the case; the three students worked with Mr. Singer for approximately four months.
"This case resulted in challenging, interesting, hands-on work, such as going through discovery files. We also had the opportunity meet with the client, which allowed us to understand her case better, build rapport, and recognize the important tasks that needed to get done in order to achieve a successful outcome," Ms. Arbabi said.
The desired outcome of the case was the dismissal of the lawsuit against the client, which was achieved when D.C. agreed to dismiss the case with prejudice on January 12, 2017.
Mr. Duncanson said of the experience, "Working with Dan Singer was great. He wanted us to be heavily involved in the case from start to finish. It was great to see how a case unfolds in real life; something we do not learn from reading a casebook. It felt good at the end of the day to help a person who was in clear need of legal help, and hopefully, she had a big smile on her face when she knew she won."
Engaging in pro bono works permits students the opportunity to work on interesting cases and gain new skills. "I had not worked on a motion for summary judgment and it was interesting to learn how to write a document like that. I think the ability to work on something like this is a great opportunity to help better prepare students for actual legal work," Ms. DiLascia-Azia said.
Mr. Singer reports that, "We could not have reached the desired outcome so quickly without the hard work and dedication of Ms. DiLascia-Azia, Ms. Arbabi, and Mr. Duncanson." He added, "I am extremely grateful for the help of the students and for Dean Johnson’s role in quickly assembling a team of students to help me with the case."