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Securing Access to Civil Justice

Lawyers across our offices represent numerous low-income individuals, families, and communities in high stakes civil matters implicating basic human needs, such as shelter, safety, health, public benefits, and wages.

Covington’s engagement in civil legal aid is central to the impact we seek to have in our local communities and to ensuring fairness in our justice system.

Representative Matters

Supreme Court Win for Domestic Violence Survivors

In Robertson v. United States ex rel., the firm's appellate litigators achieved a come-from-behind Supreme Court victory for domestic violence survivors. The issue in the case was whether our client, a victim of domestic violence, could bring a criminal contempt proceeding for violation of a protective order. We successfully persuaded the Court to leave intact the D.C. Court of Appeals' decision which permitted our client, and other similarly situated survivors, to file for criminal contempt when abusers violate protective orders.

Secure and Healthy Housing

Covington lawyers across the country represent low-income tenants facing eviction or seeking to remedy deplorable housing conditions, to stabilize their housing and prevent homelessness. Our Washington DC attorneys take part in a citywide Housing Right to Counsel Project, which aims to dramatically reduce evictions by guaranteeing pro bono representation for a certain percentage of tenants living in subsidized housing. The Project is part of a national movement to advocate for a right to counsel in civil legal matters where basic human needs are at stake. In addition to full-scope matters, the firm provides advice to otherwise self-represented tenants at housing clinics around the country.

Stable and Safe Domestic Relations

The firm represents low-income individuals in a wide array of domestic relations matters, including adoption and custody. We also regularly represent low-income domestic violence survivors in obtaining restraining orders against their abusers. This work assists survivors remain out of abusive relationships and establish safe and stable lives.

Expanding Resources to Address Homelessness

On behalf of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP), we filed suit to enforce U.S. government compliance with the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, the only major piece of federal legislation providing housing benefits to the homeless, including by making surplus federal property available for the purpose of housing or serving homeless people. We achieved a complete substantive victory in which the court required the government to comply with its obligations under the Act. This victory is critical to NLCHP’s work to make full use of available resources to address the homelessness crisis.

Civil Legal Aid Rotations

Covington is especially proud of its rotation programs in Washington, DC. Each year, we loan eight associates and two paralegals to work for six months at local legal services organizations, including at the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in DC, where the firm pioneered the loaned associate model in 1969, Bread for the City, and the Children’s Law Center.