Legal Aid of the District of Columbia Sends Email Honoring Barbara McDowell

Legal Aid of the District of Columbia where Barbara served as the Director of its Appellate Project prior to her death on January 2, 2009, sent its over 10,000 contacts an email on the tenth anniversary of her death recognizing her social justice work and the efforts of the Foundation to commemorate and continue those efforts. Legal Aid’s email was as follows (January 2019): 

Dear Friends of Legal Aid:

Today marks a somber anniversary for many of us at Legal Aid and in the appellate legal community. It has now been exactly ten years since the profoundly-respected, deeply-admired Barbara McDowell, who founded our Appellate Advocacy Project, died from brain cancer at the far too young age of 56.

Barbara was famous for once arguing two cases in front of the Supreme Court in one day when she was at the United States Solicitor General’s Office. At Legal Aid, she argued numerous cases at the DC Court of Appeals, winning significant legal victories involving housing, public benefits, domestic violence and the rights of the poor. The District is undoubtedly a fairer, more just place thanks to Barbara's tireless efforts.

After her death, Legal Aid named the Appellate Advocacy Project in Barbara's honor. Her husband, Jerry Hartman, an alumnus of the Legal Aid Board of Directors, has generously supported the Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project by creating Legal Aid’s Barbara McDowell Endowment Fund for Appellate Litigation. Jerry also founded The Barbara McDowell and Gerald S. Hartman Foundation, which not only makes grants to social justice organizations to support systemic litigation, but also takes on its own cases through a Pro Bono Initiative in conjunction with Jerry's former law firm, Drinker Biddle, where he was a partner for many years prior to his retirement in 2017.

I am humbled to continue the Project's work today. We recently ensured that a young mother received the life-saving kidney/pancreas transplant she needed after her treatment was originally denied by the District's Medicaid agency. Today, especially, we remember Barbara as we continue her quest to use the appellate process to make justice a reality for the District’s neediest residents.


Jonathan Levy 
Director, Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project 
Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia 
1331 H Street, NW | Suite 350 
Washington, DC 20005 |