Baker McKenzie has partnered with The Walt Disney Company and nonprofit National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty in a joint pro bono effort to create the Washington DC Homeless Youth Handbook, an online and print resource for youth experiencing homelessness, or transitioning to adulthood without parental support. The District of Columbia will be the seventh jurisdiction in the US to receive this guide which is also available in print form in schools, libraries, shelters and public agencies throughout DC.
The Handbook is a legal guide for homeless young people that is available on mobile phones, tablets, computers, and also available in hard copy in places a youth may be. It is a collection of questions that are answered in terms they can understand. The answers outline their rights, addressing 20 areas of substantive law and fundamental rights for youths living, working, or are in some way dependent on the street. The guide will also assist children's advocates and help them better understand homelessness issues and the way different legal rights may interact.
A team of volunteer attorneys and other professionals spent hundreds of hours researching, writing and editing the handbook, which covers topics such as employment, domestic violence, parenting, housing and education. The guide was launched at Baker McKenzie's annual partners meeting in Washington DC in front of an wide audience on October 23. The Firm also launched a video to highlight these handbooks and the impact they're having on homeless young people across the United States.
Baker McKenzie previously partnered with other clients and nonprofits to produce similar handbooks for homeless youth in six states - Florida, Texas, Washington, Minnesota, Illinois and New York - all of which are available at www.HomelessYouth.org. Digital agency One North recently redesigned the website as a pro bono project, making the handbooks even easier to access and search from a mobile device or desktop.
"The Homeless Youth Handbook project is an excellent example of how collaboration among in-house counsel, non-profits and law firms can exponentially increase assistance to those in need," said Colin Murray, Managing Partner of Baker McKenzie's Washington DC Office and Chief Executive Officer of the North America Region. "In DC alone, over 6,000 students experienced homelessness in 2016, and this figure keeps rising. Through partnerships like this, we are able to provide these children in the US, and their advocates, with clear guidance on young people's legal rights. Thank you to the talented teams at Disney and National Law Center for Homelessness and Poverty for their collaboration with us on this important project."