Rising for Justice (RFJ), formerly known as D.C. Law Students in Court, is an independent nonprofit legal services program in which students from AUWCL and other area law schools participate as student attorneys. RFJ students and staff make over one thousand appearances in court each year. AUWCL students participating in RFJ represent clients in D.C. Superior Court, primarily in the Landlord and Tenant and Small Claims Branches. Other cases may be in the Civil Division and before D.C. administrative agencies. The program works to fight the consequences of poverty, to prevent homelessness and to alleviate inequalities in the justice system while teaching law students to become effective advocates.
Rising for Justice offers a learning environment that focuses on case preparation, courtroom experience and one-on-one working relationships with experienced instructors. Supervision and instruction emphasize litigation strategy and the skills necessary for effective lawyering. Class work and supervision promote reflection on what a lawyer’s role should and can be. Individual and class instruction also focus on the lawyer-client relationship and client-centered representation.
Meet our Faculty
Paul Di Blasi is the Director of Clinical Education and a Supervising Attorney with the Housing Advocacy and Litigation Clinic. He also volunteers as a member of the Legal Committee of the DC Language Access Coalition and as a volunteer attorney at the Employment Justice Center’s clinics. Before coming to the organization, he represented low-income tenants as a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. He moved to the District from the Rio Grande Valley in Southmost Texas, where he represented low-income tenants, consumers, and workers as a Staff Attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.
Paul graduated with honors from the University of Texas in Austin School of Law. At the University of Texas, he was an Articles Editor for the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, and also participated in numerous clinics. Paul also organized the University’s first “Pro Bono in January” trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In his summers during law school, Paul clerked at the Public Justice Center in Baltimore and at the Texas Civil Rights Project in the Rio Grande Valley.
Paul graduated from Williams College, where he played trombone in the jazz band and the student symphony. Between college and law school, Paul worked probably too many jobs, including voter registration projects and teaching monolingual Spanish speakers GED math. After a nomadic early childhood, Paul grew up in San Antonio, Texas, which he thinks you should really visit sometime when you have the chance.