How to Break Barriers to Employment

A photo of barbed wire.

Tever McFervienza/Flickr

Are you having problems getting or keeping a job? Are you concerned about what effect arrests, convictions or a bad credit history may have on your ability to find a job? Do you suspect that such things have prevented you from getting a job? These are issues that can unnecessarily keep District residents living in poverty.

The Neighborhood Legal Services Program can help. It has regular job-seeker legal clinics around the District at various libraries. The list is almost too long for this article, but the Shaw Library, the Francis Gregory Library and the MLK Library, among others, all have evening events and seminars throughout the year. A full list can be found at The project is called Breaking Barriers to Employment.

Attorneys at the NLSP can help seal criminal records, address credit report issues and help with background checks gone bad. They can also help to restore lost driver’s and professional licenses to improve one’s chances of getting a job. Back child support, wage theft and other matters can also be addressed by qualified staff and volunteer attorneys manning the clinic.

NLSP has been around for over 50 years. It has three offices in underserved areas of the District (680 Rhode Island Ave., NE; 4609 Polk St., NE; and 2811 Pennsylvania Ave., SE). It provides free civil legal services to low-income residents of the District. To get legal help, call (202) 832-6577 (NLSP) Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

In addition to its employment assistance program, it also helps preserve safe and affordable shelter, stabilize family relationships, protect victims of domestic violence, secure access to health care and public benefits and otherwise protect fundamental necessities to those looking for a way out of poverty.

For attorneys looking to volunteer their time, D.C.-barred, those with pending applications and federal employees are all needed for different projects. (202) 269-5115 is the number to call or email a resume to [email protected] or sign up on their website.

Volunteers can help with family law matters (domestic violence), consumer law (predatory lenders), housing (evictions), employment (unpaid wages), public benefits (disability), veteran’s benefits, and wills and advance directives. Attorneys can also help perform intake at the offices or provide advice to those representing themselves pro se in small claims matters. Finally, for those with specialized skills and a desire to build their Avvo rating, the NLSP always welcomes attorneys who are willing to train their staff and volunteers on areas of law that may be useful to their clients.

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