Washington Lawyer

Legal Beat: News and Notes on the D.C. Bar Legal Community

From Washington Lawyer, July/August 2009

By Kathryn Alfisi and Fleur L. Harris

D.C. Bar Inaugurates Keenan, Bestows Honors at Annual Dinner
Swearing-in ceremony. From left, Judge Eric T. Washington and Kim M. Keenan. Photo by Ben ZweigKim Michele Keenan was sworn in as the 38th president of the D.C. Bar at its Annual Business Meeting and Awards Dinner on June 25, which also featured the presentation of awards to outstanding individuals and programs.

In her inaugural address at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, Keenan thanked friends and family who were in attendance as well as the legal community and outlined her goals for the coming year. “My theme for this Bar year is reinventing leadership. To me, reinventing leadership is injecting the culture of leadership into everything we do, finding ways to encourage leadership, cultivate our members, and create new members … I want to challenge us to reach out and find new people to get involved, because that’s what makes the Bar special.”

Keenan also said she intends to continue working on the creation of a strategic plan for the Bar that her predecessor Robert J. Spagnoletti began during his presidency.

Keenan’s inauguration also marked the transition to president-elect of Ronald S. Flagg, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP. Flagg, the firm-wide chair of Sidley Austin’s Committee on Pro Bono and Public Interest Law, will serve as president-elect for one year before becoming president.

The evening also included an awards presentation. This year’s recipients were David W. DeBruin of Jenner & Block LLP (Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year), Jones Day (Law Firm Pro Bono Award), the 10th Annual Youth Law Fair (Best Section Community Outreach Project), the Health Law Section (Best Section), and the D.C. Bar Building Committee (Best Bar Project).

The Frederick B. Abramson Award went to the Tax Sale Redemption Project, a partnership of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, which helps individuals redeem their real property that has been sold by the District because of unpaid taxes.

The William J. Brennan Jr. Award—the Bar’s highest honor—went to Patricia Mullahy Fugere, executive director of the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless and a longtime advocate.

Upon accepting the award, Fugere related a story about one of her children asking why God couldn’t work a miracle and place an apartment building down on an empty corner so the homeless people would have a place to live. Fugere’s response: “We all have to be instruments of those miracles.

“We who are part of this privileged profession of the law have it within our ability to aid in making these miracles. We need only to look to Justice Brennan for inspiration in this regard. Just ask the Tennessee voter whose ballot counts fully, the welfare recipient who is able to pay the rent because her benefits were kept intact while she appealed her termination, or ask the federally convicted criminal who was ultimately released about the miracles that Justice Brennan was able to work in their lives,” she said.

The Presidents' Reception. From left, Ronald S. Flagg, Maureen Thornton Syracuse, and Paulette E. Chapman. Photo by Ben ZweigEarlier in the evening the Presidents’ Reception was held to honor Keenan and raise money for the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program. At the reception, Pro Bono Committee Chair H. Guy Collier Jr. spoke about the increased demand for services the Pro Bono Program has experienced this year. He said the program’s monthly Saturday walk-in clinic has served a record number of people. Collier also said that in the coming year the program intends to expand its consumer law resource center by bringing in more law firms and opening it on more days of the week, and making it possible for users to finish interviews online and generate pleadings ready for filing.—K.A.

Flagg Joins Keenan on New Leadership Team
Ronald S. Flagg, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, was sworn in as D.C. Bar president-elect for the 2009–2010 term on June 25, the same day Kim M. Keenan of The Keenan Firm took her oath of office as the Bar’s new president.

After his term expires, Flagg will go on to become president of the Bar, and will continue in office a third year as immediate past president.

“I am thrilled and honored to be elected president-elect. The Bar faces a wide range of important issues affecting our members and our community. I look forward to working on these issues with Kim Keenan, the Board of Governors, section leaders, and the Bar’s professional staff,” he said.

Flagg, the firm-wide chair of Sidley Austin’s Committee on Pro Bono and Public Interest Law, is a current member of the Bar’s Board of Governors. He formerly served as a member and later chair of the Bar’s Pro Bono Committee as well as a member of the Bar’s 2008 Dues Ceiling Committee.

He is credited with helping develop and roll out the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program’s Graduate Fellowship Program, under which incoming law firm associates in the District spend the first 10 weeks of their career working with legal services providers.

At Sidley Austin, Flagg’s expertise includes the practice of complex commercial and administrative litigation for professional firms and regulated industries. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Flagg also is actively involved in several other legal services organizations such as the National Veterans Legal Services Program, where he sits as board chair; the AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly; and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

Also joining the Bar’s new leadership team are, as secretary, Meredith Fuchs of The George Washington University’s National Security Archive, and, as treasurer, R. Justin Smith of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Seated for three-year terms on the Bar’s Board of Governors are Johnine P. Barnes of Baker & Hostetler LLP; Paulette E. Chapman of Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P.; Lena Robins of Amgen; James W. Rubin of Hunton & Williams LLP; and Javier G. Salinas of Ernst & Young LLP.

Donald Michael Remy of Latham & Watkins LLP, Mark H. Tuohey III of Vinson & Elkins L.L.P., and Amy Y. Yeung of WilmerHale LLP will serve in the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates for two-year terms. Yeung will occupy the seat reserved for delegates under the age of 35.

All newly elected officers, board members, and delegates were sworn in during the Bar’s Annual Business Meeting and Awards Dinner at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel. For election results, see box below.—K.A.

(Winners in italic) President-Elect: Ronald S. Flagg, 4,114; Alfred F. Belcuore, 3,394. Secretary: Meredith Fuchs, 4,425; Paula M. Potoczak, 2,578. Treasurer: R. Justin Smith, 4,419; Thomas Mugavero, 2,440. Board of Governors: Lena Robins, 4,086; Johnine P. Barnes, 4,039; Paulette E. Chapman, 3,466; Javier G. Salinas, 3,242; James Rubin, 3,021; Stephen I. Glover, 3,000; Tom Brunner, 2,776; Geoffrey M. Klineberg, 2,662; David Deitch, 2,073; Ralph P. Albrecht, 2,025. ABA House of Delegates: Mark H. Tuohey III, 3,756; Donald Michael Remy, 3,703; Arthur D. Burger, 2,726; Patrick McGlone, 2,693. ABA House of Delegates Under-35 Seat: Amy Yeung, 4,726; Todd R. Overman, 1,958.

34th Annual Judicial Conference Explores Role of Court Technology
On June 19 the District of Columbia Court of Appeals held its 34th Annual Judicial Conference, which featured three plenary sessions, a multimedia presentation, and a luncheon speech by U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

This year’s conference, held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, focused on how computers, science, and the Internet impact the administration of justice.

The plenary sessions tackled how the media shapes public perception of 21st-century justice, the ethical concerns surrounding the use of Internet and e-mail by practitioners and the courts in judicial proceedings, and whether the courts and juries are equipped to handle 21st-century issues.

Fredric Lederer, director of the Center for Legal and Court Technology at the William & Mary Law School, gave a presentation on courtroom technology by way of videoconference from the center’s McGlothlin Courtroom. The courtroom is considered the most technologically advanced in the world and represents the “courtroom of the future.”

During his speech, Holder said science and technology should be embraced as an opportunity to improve the delivery of justice.

“I would ask all of us involved in the administration of justice not to view technology as a burden or something that we should fear. We at the Justice Department embrace it as an opportunity to be more efficient, productive, and more fair as we carry out our responsibilities,” he said.

Additionally, a resolution was passed at the conference updating the standards for pro bono service that the conference adopted in 1980 and subsequently revised in 1997.

The resolution reiterated the expectation that all members of the Bar would take one court appointment or provide 50 hours of pro bono representation annually, but increased to $750 the monetary contribution that lawyers could instead make to a legal services provider if they are unable to undertake direct representation.

Lawyers licensed to practice law in the District have a responsibility under Rule 6.1 of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct to participate in pro bono service.

The Judicial Conference’s current guidelines are stated in Comment [5] of the rule.—K.A.

Legal ‘Legends’ Sullivan, Tigar Discuss Lives in the Law
The D.C. Bar Law Practice Management Section held its fifth annual “Legends in the Law” luncheon on June 11, featuring attorneys Brendan V. Sullivan Jr. and Michael E. Tigar.

With nearly 40 years of litigation work, Sullivan, a senior partner at Williams & Connolly LLP, has defended some of the most controversial white-collar crime cases in recent years. His clients included former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, who was accused of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation during background checks; Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal; and former Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens.

Tigar has served as an associate and partner at Williams & Connolly and as partner in his own firm, Tigar & Buffone. He has represented former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Texas Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Oklahoma City bombing coconspirator Terry Lynn Nichols. He is also a professor of the practice of law at Duke University Law School and emeritus professor at the American University Washington College of Law.

The two “legends” talked about their careers in the law, including their biggest cases, and gave advice for the many young lawyers in attendance.

Law was not the first career choice for either Tigar, who thought about being a journalist or a history professor, or Sullivan, who thought he would be “the head of Procter and Gamble or something.”

Both men finally did decide to go to law school and wound up beginning their legal careers at Williams & Connolly around the same time, where they found that success meant working twice as hard as the next person, and that you have to make your own luck.

Sullivan said teamwork is very important while working at a firm, and he often tells young lawyers to stop competition amongst their peers and work together as a family.

“Litigation is a team sport,” said Tigar, echoing similar sentiments. “You have to have the opportunity to bounce your ideas off each other.”

Tigar also said that it is important for lawyers to find something in every case they take that they can believe in, something that makes them think, “I went to the office and served justice today.”

Sullivan and Tigar also discussed the down side to being a lawyer, namely the heavy work requirements.

“The problem with [practicing] law is that it is endless,” Sullivan said. “I don’t know if there is any other profession except law where you have this feeling that the work is never done … You live with it, take it with you, and that’s the nature of the beast.”

Former Law Practice Management Section cochair Jeffrey Berger moderated the program, which was cosponsored by all 21 sections of the D.C. Bar.—K.A.

Council for Court Excellence Elects DLA Piper’s Silbert as President
The Council for Court Excellence has elected Earl J. Silbert as its president for the 2009–2010 term during the council’s semiannual board meeting on June 11. Silbert succeeded Rodney F. Page, who served as president since 2005.

Silbert has been a partner at DLA Piper LLP since 1998; prior to that, he was a principal at Schwalb, Donnenfeld, Bray & Silbert, P.C. for almost 20 years. His career highlights include serving as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia from 1974 to 1979, being the first prosecutor in the Watergate scandal during his term as assistant U.S. attorney, and working for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Tax Division.

A Harvard College and Harvard Law School graduate, Silbert has served as president of both the American College of Trial Lawyers and the National Association of Former United States Attorneys. He is a member of the D.C. Sentencing and Code Revision Commission.

On May 7 Silbert was honored by the council with its Justice Potter Stewart Award for his work to improve the justice system.—K.A.

D.C. Bar Announces Winners of 20th Annual Golf Tournament
The D.C. Bar Membership Committee hosted the 20th Annual D.C. Bar Golf Tournament on June 15 at the Country Club of Fairfax in Virginia. The tournament highlights the Member Benefits Program, which raises money for non-dues-funded Bar services such as the Pro Bono Program.

First-place trophies went to the team of Jeff Beam, Alex Elmore, Peter Hill, and David L. Lowans.

Finishing in second place was the team of Adam Feld, Rich Feld, Josh Lerner, and Ken Lerner.

The team of Charley Billman, former D.C. Bar President George Jones Jr. of Sidley Austin LLP, Clay Smith, and Earl Wilkerson finished third.

Firm Advice, Inc. presented the three teams and winners of various skills contests with trophies during the tournament’s awards dinner, sponsored by GEICO.

Other sponsors included Avis Budget Group, Capital Reporting Company, FedEx, Forrest T. Jones & Company, Framing Success, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, Linestanding.com, Northwestern Mutual, Samson Paper Company, Subscription Services Inc., and The Daily Washington Law Reporter. Lunch was sponsored by The McCammon Group, while the American Bar Association Retirement Funds sponsored the tournament gift.—K.A.

Avoid Late Fees! Pay Bar Dues by August 17
D.C. Bar members who have not paid their annual dues by August 17 will be assessed a late fee of $30. Members whose Bar dues and/or late fee, if applicable, are not received postmarked by September 30 automatically will be suspended for nonpayment of dues and subject to additional reinstatement fees.

Dues amounts are $224 for active members, $126 for inactive members, and $113 for judicial members. When paying dues, members also may join a section or renew their section memberships and make contributions to the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program.

Payments may be mailed to D.C. Bar Dues, c/o Suntrust Bank, PO Box 79834, Baltimore, MD 21279-0834, or submitted online at www.dcbar.org/paydues. For online payments, members will need their username and password, which automatically can be retrieved if their e-mail address matches what the Bar has on file. As an added convenience, the Bar now accepts American Express.

E-mail addresses can be checked by visiting www.dcbar.org, selecting the “Find a Member” button at the top right side of the page, and locating the individual record. If the e-mail address is incorrect, corrections may be sent to memberservices@dcbar.org.

Members are encouraged to confirm all of their personal information on the dues statement, including e-mail addresses.

Nine D.C. High School Seniors Earn Abramson Foundation Scholarships
On June 18 the Frederick B. Abramson Memorial Foundation honored nine graduating students from public high schools across the District of Columbia as its 2009 recipients of college scholarships.

The awardees, recognized during the foundation’s Scholarship Luncheon at Hotel Monaco Washington DC, will receive up to $10,000 in financial aid to help defray expenses at their four-year accredited college of choice. Since 1992 the foundation has raised more than $700,000 in scholarship grants to assist economically disadvantaged but academically deserving senior high school students in the District.

This year’s scholars are Sharnita Brice, Michelle Brown, Markeytta Harrison, Nico Hinkle, Martez Hurt, Jelani Johnson, Charniqua Lawson, Qi Ling Li, and Miya Upshur-Williams. Brown is also the 2009 recipient of The Cochran Firm, DC Scholarship Award, which is given to a student who plans on pursuing a career in law.

Scholarship Chair Addy Schmitt said that in reviewing students’ applications, the foundation board of directors always found themselves asking how these young people were able to “achieve so much despite the odds.”

“The answer we hear again and again: a mentor … someone who helps them see possibilities,” Schmitt said.

At the luncheon, two of the foundation’s 2008 awardees spoke about their experiences during their first year in college and offered advice to the new scholars. Shamaya Fenwick-Chisholm, now a sophomore at The George Washington University majoring in psychology, challenged the new batch of awardees to “keep your eyes on the prize and stay focused.” Frank Fleming, who majors in hospitality and tourism management at James Madison University, shared some tips on how to keep class schedules and priorities in order.

Three of the new scholars—Brown, Hinkle, and Hurt—will attend Florida A&M University. Brice will pursue business entrepreneurship, social work, and education at Towson University; Harrison plans to major in engineering at the University of Virginia; and Johnson will study engineering at the North Carolina A&T State University. Lawson will take up social work or pre-law at Clark Atlanta University; Li, who immigrated from China at 19 knowing no English and applied for 35 different college scholarships, will enroll at James Madison; and Upshur-Williams will pursue anthropology and writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

The foundation is named after the late Frederick B. Abramson, a distinguished member of the D.C. legal community who served as D.C. Bar president from 1985 to 1986.

For more information on the Frederick B. Abramson Memorial Foundation, visit www.abramsonfoundation.org.—F.H.

Something Old, Something New
The Historic Courthouse in Judiciary Square. Photo by Joseph Romeo PhotographyThe Historic Courthouse in Judiciary Square marked its reopening with a rededication ceremony on June 17, following a four-year-long process to restore the District of Columbia landmark to its former glory and to celebrate the courthouse’s newest tenant, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. The original structure was designed by George Hadfield in 1820 and is one of the oldest public buildings in the city. Notable historical figures who have argued in the courthouse include Daniel Webster and Francis Scott Key.—K.A.

Bar Seeks Candidates for Committee, Board Vacancies
The D.C. Bar Board of Governors is seeking candidates for appointment in the fall to 10 of the Bar’s standing committees, and to the Board of Directors of the Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP).

The following Bar standing committees are recruiting members: Community Economic Development Pro Bono Project Advisory Committee, Continuing Legal Education Committee, Governance Integration Advisory Committee, Lawyer Assistance Committee, Membership Committee, Practice Management Service Committee, Pro Bono Committee, Publications Committee, Regulations/Rules/Board Procedures Committee, and Rules of Professional Conduct Review Committee.

Additionally, the Bar is accepting candidate résumés for the seven-member Committee on Nominations and the Election Board. These bodies are appointed each year in accordance with the Bar’s bylaws and are responsible for nominating candidates for the Bar’s officer and Board of Governors positions for the next Bar election and for reviewing the vote counts. Any active member of the Bar who is not an officer or member of the Board of Governors and who has not served on the Committee on Nominations during the past three years is eligible to apply. Any active member is eligible to serve up to three consecutive years.

Leadership experience with voluntary bar associations or with the Bar’s sections is highly desirable.

Finally, the Board of Governors is also accepting résumés from D.C. Bar members who are interested in serving on the board of directors of the NLSP. Candidates must be licensed attorneys who are supportive of the Legal Services Corporation Act and have an interest in, and knowledge of, the delivery of quality legal services to the poor. The NLSP board is required to attempt to reflect the diversity of the NLSP client population in its recommendations to the Bar’s Board of Governors.

The following committees have positions designated for nonlawyer members:

  • Community Economic Development Project Advisory
  • Lawyer Assistance
  • Membership
  • Neighborhood Legal Services Program
  • Practice Management Service

Individuals interested in being considered for any of these openings should submit a résumé and cover letter stating the committee or board on which they would like to serve. Submit materials online at www.dcbar.org/vacancies or by mail to D.C. Bar Executive Office, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210. Materials must be received by September 3.

Sections Office Announces Steering Committee Election Results
The D.C. Bar Sections Office has announced the election results for the steering committees of all 21 sections. Voting ended June 1.

Members of the steering committees are among the most active participants in the District’s legal community, planning and carrying out a range of substantive and social programs in specific practice areas throughout the year.

Unless otherwise noted, the winners’ terms, which started July 1, will last three years.

Edwin Huddleson III, attorney-at-law; Adina Rosenbaum, an attorney at Public Citizen Litigation Group; and Michael Stern, attorney-at-law, were elected to the Administrative Law and Agency Practice Section Steering Committee.

Grace Kwon, an associate at Mayer Brown LLP; Karin Moore, vice president and cogeneral counsel of litigation and regulatory affairs at Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America; and Clarence Lee Peeler of the Council of Better
Business Bureaus were elected to the Antitrust and Consumer Law Section Steering Committee.

Philip Cardinale Jr., an associate at Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP; David Johnstone, attorney-at-law; and Andrew Mirsky of Mirsky and Company were elected to the Arts, Entertainment, Media and Sports Law Section Steering Committee.

Nicholas Alexander, legal advisor for Wireline to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Robert McDowell; Matthew Brill, a partner at Latham & Watkins LLP; and Joy Ragsdale, an attorney advisor at the FCC, were elected to the Computer and Telecommunications Law Section Steering Committee.

Felicia Battista, senior managing director of FTI Forensic and Litigation Consulting; James Day of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority; and Linda Thomsen, a partner at Davis Polk & Wardell, were elected to the Corporation, Finance and Securities Law Section Steering Committee.

Brigida Benitez, a partner at WilmerHale LLP; Dorene Haney of D.C. Law Students in Court; and David Tedhams of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia were elected to the Courts, Lawyers and the Administration of Justice Section Steering Committee.

Ashley Bailey, of counsel at Crowell & Moring LLP; Todd Edelman of Georgetown Law Center’s Criminal Justice Clinic; and Jon Norris of the Law Offices of Jon W. Norris were elected to the Criminal Law and Individual Rights Section Steering Committee.

Claudia McKoin, intergovernmental relations liaison for the Council of the District of Columbia; Lawrence Mirel, a partner at Wiley Rein LLP; and Edward Rich of Arent Fox PLLC were elected to the District of Columbia Affairs Section Steering Committee.

Bernice Corman, general counsel of the District of Columbia Department of the Environment; Patrice Simms, senior project attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council; and Michele Walter, an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, were elected to the Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Section Steering Committee.

Leroy Fykes Jr., founder and principal of Expert Legal Services Chartered; Ellen Klem of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging; and Catherine Mary Rafferty of the Law Offices of Catherine Mary Rafferty were elected to the Estates, Trusts and Probate Law Section Steering Committee.

Robin Murphy, a supervising attorney at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia; Katherine O’Rourke, an associate at Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell LLP; Rebecca Shankman, an associate at Ain & Bank, P.C. (one-year term, replacing Jane Stoever who resigned before the end of her term); and Lisa Vollendorf Martin of The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law were elected to the Family Law Section Steering Committee

Edward Hanel Jr. of the U.S. Navy; Kevin Maynard, a partner at Wiley Rein LLP; and Mary Ita Snyder, of counsel at GE Aviation, were elected to the Government Contracts and Litigation Section Steering Committee.

Lori Mihalich-Levin of King & Spalding LLP; Stuart Silverman of the Office of the Inspector General for the District of Columbia; and Cathy Zeman Scheineson, a partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP, were elected to the Health Law Section Steering Committee.

Leigh Ann Lindquist, a partner at Sughrue Mion, PLLC, and Karyn Temple Claggett of the U.S. Department of Justice were elected to the Intellectual Property Law Section Steering Committee.

Geoffrey Goodale, senior counsel at Foley & Lardner LLP; Mary Ann McGrail of the U.S. Department of Justice; and Penny Wakefield, attorney-at-law, were elected to the International Law Section Steering Committee.

Jeffrey Bartos of Guerrieri, Edmond, Clayman & Bartos, P.C.; Patricia Connelly, a member at Trout Cacheris PLLC; Lily Garcia, attorney-at-law; and Joyce Taber, an associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP (one-year term, replacing Terrence Canela who resigned before the end of his term), were elected to the Labor and Employment Law Section Steering Committee.

Heather Bupp-Habuda, attorney-at-law; Garrett Heenan, an associate at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP; and Stephen Marcus of The Law Offices of Stephen H. Marcus were elected to the Law Practice Management Section Steering Committee.

Theresa Coetzee, vice president and senior counsel at Marriott International Inc.; Joshua Levy, a partner at Stein, Mitchell & Muse LLP; and Lucy Newton, staff attorney and director of the Community-Based Lawyering Project at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, were elected to the Litigation Section Steering Committee.

Jerald Cohn, a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, LLP; Arthur Konopka of the Law Offices of Arthur F. Konopka; and Meridith Moldenhauer, a partner at Griffin & Murphy, LLP, were elected to the Real Estate, Housing and Land Use Section Steering Committee.

Linda Carlisle, a partner at White & Case LLP; Danielle Rolfes, a partner at Ivins, Phillips & Barker Chartered; and Carolyn Ward, of counsel at Ropes & Gray LLP, were elected to the Taxation Section Steering Committee.

Catherine Bertram of Regan Zambri & Long, PLLC; Christopher Nace, an associate at Paulson & Nace; and Angela Williams Russell, a partner at Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, were elected to the Tort Law Section Steering Committee.—K.A.

D.C. Bar Foundation Awards $1.1 Million in Grants
The D.C. Bar Foundation has announced the award of $1.1 million in grants to civil legal services organizations in the District of Columbia. The funds are in addition to the $3.13 million allocation made in April by the D.C. government.

Grant funding has become harder to come by because of the economic downturn. For instance, the Bar Foundation has had to deal with a drop in interest rates that reduced Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) revenues by 60 percent, as well as a decreased amount of law firm contributions. The foundation had to release funds from its reserve to come up with the $1.1. million, which is 50 percent of what was awarded last year.

“The economic downturn has created an enormously challenging environment for nonprofit civil legal services organizations, precisely at a time when the need for their services is increasing,” said D.C. Bar Foundation President Stephen J. Pollak. “We are grateful for the continued support of our legal community and the commitment of local financial institutions for securing a baseline of funding for legal services in this city.”

Supported programs include Ayuda, Inc., Bread for the City Legal Clinic, Children’s Law Center, D.C. Employment Justice Center, the D.C. Law Students in Court Program, Neighborhood Legal Services Program, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and Women Empowered Against Violence.

For a complete list of grantees, visit the D.C. Bar Foundation at www.dcbarfoundation.org.—K.A.

D.C. Council Allots $3.56 Million for Civil Legal Services
The Council of the District of Columbia has included $3.56 million for public legal services in its 2010 fiscal year budget. This is the fourth consecutive year the District has allocated funds at the request of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission.

“As the economy has deteriorated, the legal needs of low-income residents have increased significantly. It is a testament to the importance of civil legal services that the District maintained funding for this program even though it faced its own budget challenges. Investing in legal services is a wise investment because it averts greater social service costs that the city would otherwise incur,” Commission Chair Peter B. Edelman said.

The funding pays for more than 30 lawyers who work on behalf of low-income residents throughout the city and supports a loan repayment program for civil legal services lawyers.

The commission was created in 2005 by order of the D.C. Court of Appeals to address the unmet civil legal services needs of the District’s low-income residents.

For more information on the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, contact 202-344-4441 or info@dcaccesstojustice.org, or visit www.dcaccesstojustice.org.—K.A.

Obama Nominates DOJ’s Nash for Superior Court Vacancy
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney Stuart Nash was nominated by President Barack Obama to fill a vacancy on the Superior Court for the District of Columbia. The vacancy was left by the retirement of Judge Rafael Diaz, who stepped down in March.

Nash is an associate deputy attorney general and director of DOJ’s Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force.

From 1997 to 2004, Nash served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia, and prior to that he practiced law at Williams & Connolly LLP.

However, Nash was not among the candidates nominated for the position by the District of Columbia
Judicial Nomination Commission, which selects and recommends a panel of three candidates to the president for each vacancy on the D.C. Court of Appeals and Superior Court.

Nash was chosen as a nominee by the commission in 2008 to fill a vacancy on the D.C. Superior Court left by the retirement of then Chief Judge Rufus G. King III, and was nominated by President Bush, but later withdrew his nomination.—K.A.

Reach D.C. Bar staff writer Kathryn Alfisi at kalfisi@dcbar.org. Fleur L. Harris contributed to this report.