Friday, February 21, 2014

Our own Jim Bishop named Top Public Service Attorney!

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About two years ago, attorney Jim Bishop  met a man very similar to himself - around the same age, of the same race, and even a native Washingtonian. However, this man, a taxi driver suffering from prostate cancer and diabetes, was facing eviction from his condominium because he could not work to pay his mortgage payments while he was ill.

At a loss what to do, the man turned to the Catholic Charities Legal Network for help. Bishop and his team of volunteer attorneys helped negotiate with the condominium so he would not lose his housing. Today, he is cancer-free, working and grateful for the pro bono legal services he received.

The taxi driver's story is just one example of how Jim Bishop has influenced pro bono legal efforts in the greater Washington, DC area. Working over four decades in public interest law, Bishop, the Director of the Catholic Charities Legal Network, received the 2014 Jerrold Scoutt Prize from the DC Bar Foundation - one of the highest honors given to an attorney working in public services law each year.  

The distinction, as stated by the DC Bar Foundation, “is awarded annually to an attorney who has worked for a significant portion of his or her career at a nonprofit organization providing direct hands-on legal services to the needy in the District of Columbia; has demonstrated compassionate concern for his or her clients; and has exhibited a high degree of skill on their behalf.” 

Jim Bishop: Really hard worker. Really nice guy.
“I am so excited and thrilled to be receiving this award. The work I have done over the years has really paid off for people in need,” Bishop said. “It means a lot to me.”

For the past 20 years, Jim has been critical in providing legal services to low-income clients through the Catholic Charities Legal Network. As if that wasn't enough, he serves as a mediator at DC Superior Court several nights every week.

He joined the Legal Network in 1993 and has helped grow its pro bono legal services for low-income Washington, D.C., and southern Maryland residents into what it is today. Last year, the program tapped into a volunteer pool of more than 650 attorneys to assist over 2,760 individuals in civil matters such as bankruptcy, employment/discrimination, family law, and will preparation -- all at no cost to the clients.

His life in public interest law began well before coming to Catholic Charities, however. Since 1986, Bishop has served as a mediator with the Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division of the District of Columbia Superior Court’s Family Division and has continued that role to date. During his time in college at Lincoln University (where he was a magna cum laude graduate) and law school at Howard University, he volunteered at Neighborhood Legal Services Program and also Legal Counsel for the Elderly.
“Jim Bishop is an unsung hero of our pro bono community and a deserving recipient of the Scoutt Prize,” said DCBF Advisory Committee Member and Prize Committee Chair Fred T. Goldberg, Jr., of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

This award has inspired Jim as he continues to take pro bono cases and mentor volunteer attorneys. “It gives me fortitude and strength to go on helping more people,” he said.

Learn more about the Catholic Charities Legal Network.