Washington Lawyer

Legal Beat

From Washington Lawyer, March 2010

By Kathryn Alfisi and Thai Phi Stone

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

Bar Seeks Nominations for 2010 Awards Ceremony
The D.C. Bar is seeking nominations to recognize outstanding projects and contributions by Bar members at the 2010 Annual Business Meeting and Awards Dinner on Thursday, June 24, at the Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW.

The Bar will present its highest honor, the Thurgood Marshall Award, to a Bar member who has demonstrated exceptional achievement in the pursuit of equal justice and equal opportunity for all Americans. The Bar also will present the Frederick B. Abramson Award, which is given in recognition of extraordinary service to the profession.

Bar members also are encouraged to submit nominations for the following awards: Best Bar Project, Best Section, Best Section Community Outreach Project, Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year, and two Pro Bono Law Firm Awards—one for small firms (2–50 lawyers) and one for large firms (51 lawyers or more).

The awards will recognize contributions made between April 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010.

Award nominations must be submitted by April 2 to D.C. Bar Executive Director Katherine A. Mazzaferri, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210, or online at www.dcbar.org/awards.—K.A.

From Grads to Dads
dadsOn January 29 the Superior Court of the District of Columbia held its second Fathering Court Initiative graduation to recognize individuals who completed the year-long program, which instructs men who recently have been released from prison on how to reconnect with their children and to meet child-support obligations. Here, Fathering Court case manager YuVette Russell (left) and Superior Court Magistrate Judge Milton C. Lee Jr. (right) flank Fathering Court graduate Michael Turner, who displays his diploma.—K.A.

Bar Seeks Candidates for Board, Committee Vacancies
The D.C. Bar Board of Governors is seeking candidates for appointments this spring to the Legal Ethics Committee, Judicial Evaluation Committee, Attorney/Client Arbitration Board, and D.C. Bar Foundation, as well as to the Board on Professional Responsibility (BPR) of the D.C. Court of Appeals. All candidates must be members of the D.C. Bar.

For BPR openings, three individuals will be selected for each vacancy and their names will be forwarded to the D.C. Court of Appeals for final appointment. Preference is given to individuals with experience on BPR hearing committees.

Individuals interested in applying should submit a résumé, with cover letter stating the committee on which they would like to serve, to the D.C. Bar Screening Committee, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210. Online submissions can be made at www.dcbar.org/vacancies. Résumés must be received by March 15.—K.A.

Commission Nominates Judge Lee to Superior Court
The District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission has nominated Magistrate Judge Milton C. Lee Jr. to be an associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The nomination was sent to the U.S. Senate on January 20.

Lee will fill the seat vacated by retired Associate Judge Jerry S. Byrd.

Since his appointment in 1997, Lee has served as a magistrate judge in the Criminal and Civil divisions of the Superior Court. He is currently assigned to the family court, and he also presides over the Fathering Court Initiative, a treatment-oriented approach to reuniting children with their noncustodial parents recently released from prison.

From 1985 to 1993, Lee was a staff attorney at the District of Columbia Public Defender Service, where he tried several felony cases. He later taught at the Georgetown University Law Center in the Criminal Justice Clinic and at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law.

For additional questions about Lee’s nomination, please contact Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, chair of the Judicial Nomination Commission, at 202-354-3260 or jnc@dcd.uscourts.gov.—T.S.

Bar Offers Discount on Sections Membership
The D.C. Bar is offering a 50 percent discount on memberships to all its 21 sections until June 30, 2010. With more than 24,000 members, the Bar’s sections offer premium networking opportunities through educational programs, judicial receptions, and other exclusive events.

Additional benefits include early notifications of events, newsletters, discounts on Sections and Continuing Legal Education programs, and access to publications at reduced rates. Members also get the chance to be part of more than 100 committees in specialized areas, from environmental law to telecommunications.

To join, visit www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers/sections/join.cfm.—T.S.

Changes to Bar Dues Payment Schedule
This year D.C. Bar members must pay their annual dues by July 15—a month earlier than in previous years—to avoid being charged a late fee.

Dues statements for fiscal year 2010–2011 will be sent to Bar members in May, with a response deadline of July 1, allowing members a two-week grace period before a $30 late fee is assessed.

Dues amounts for 2010–2011 will be set by the Bar’s Board of Governors in April at the conclusion of its budget deliberations. 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. 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.

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.—K.A.

Pilot Program Tests Use of Listservs for Section Members
Three D.C. Bar sections have launched listservs as part of a pilot program to assess the value of an electronic discussion group. Under the program, the Estates, Trusts and Probate Law Section; Law Practice Management Section; and Litigation Section are the first sections to use listservs to connect attorneys in similar fields.

Members who join the listserv receive valuable information about events, programs, and issues affecting practicing lawyers. With greater participation, the listservs are poised to become a powerful tool in advancing the law, putting the advice of some of the most respected attorneys within a few keystrokes.

The Estates, Trusts and Probate Law Section has had great success in garnering support, creating a listserv community of more than 140 people. With topics ranging from ethical debates about debt collection to whether or not conservators can retain counsel, lawyers have received extensive information to better serve their clients.

Both the Law Practice Management Section and Litigation Section are seeking additional members to spur discussions. The Law Practice Management Section’s listserv also aims to post important information for its members in one forum to avoid the inconvenience of having to check numerous outlets.

Throughout the project, assigned coordinators will field questions, suggestions, and complaints, which will help determine whether or not to continue or expand the use of listservs for members of all sections of the Bar.

To participate in the pilot program, visit www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers/sections/listserv/listserv_terms.cfm. For additional information, contact David Itkin, Sections Office senior member information specialist, at 202-737-4700, ext. 3253, or at ditkin@dcbar.org.—T.S.

Commission Selects Nominees for Superior Court Vacancies
The District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission has selected candidates for two vacancies on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

Three candidates were chosen for each vacancy, and the nominations were forwarded to President Barack Obama on February 1 for consideration. The president has 60 days to choose from the pool of nominees. The candidates were submitted to fill vacancies created by the retirement of Judge Geoffrey A. Alprin and Judge Cheryl M. Long.

To fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Alprin, the commission has nominated Maria C. T. Amato, general counsel for the D.C. Department of Corrections; Robert D. Okun, a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia; and Judith A. Smith, magistrate judge on the Superior Court.

The commission has recommended Devarieste Curry, a partner at McLeod, Watkinson & Miller; Todd E. Edelman, a clinical professor at the Georgetown University Law Center; and Elizabeth C. Wingo, a magistrate judge on the Superior Court, to replace Judge Long.

All questions concerning the nomination application process should be directed to Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, chair of the Judicial Nomination Commission, at 202-354-3260 or jnc@dcd.uscourts.gov.—T.S.

New Member Benefit Offers Access to Business Centers Nationwide
The D.C. Bar has joined forces with Carr Workplaces, a provider of alternative workplace solutions, to offer members significant benefits and access to the 23 Carr-operated business centers across the country, including 11 in the Washington metropolitan area.

“Our unique partnership with the D.C. Bar provides a critical link to space and services for the legal community in Washington,” said Joe Wallace, chief executive officer of Carr Workplaces. “Attorneys expect the same level of service and professionalism they provide to their clients, the same rigor they apply to their own practices. Our workplaces are structured to deliver those high standards of support from the moment they walk in.”

This partnership provides Bar members with the flexibility of short-term leases for exclusive office space across the region and no start-up capital costs. It also offers on-site support staff and fully equipped, information technology-enabled offices. The benefits will be especially valuable to Bar members who manage their own practice or participate in a boutique firm.

Carr Workplaces also has offices in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.—T.S.

D.C. Circuit Seeks Nominees for Gribbon Pro Bono Award
The Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit Judicial Conference is seeking nominations for its fifth annual Daniel M. Gribbon Pro Bono Advocacy Award.

The award, endowed by Gribbon’s family and friends, honors his lifetime commitment to and strong support for pro bono legal services. Individuals or firms that have demonstrated distinguished advocacy before the district court in a pro bono matter that concluded between July 1, 2008, and December 31, 2009, are eligible for the award.

Interested parties may nominate themselves, and nonwinning nominees from previous years can resubmit their applications if they meet the criteria.

All nominations must be in writing and are limited to six pages. They may also include a description—up to two pages—of the pro bono work and letters of support. Nominees should not attach pleadings or court filings. Descriptions must be received no later than noon on March 17, while supporting letters will be accepted through noon on March 31.

Nomination materials may be e-mailed to Standing Committee member Scott A. Memmott at smemmott@morganlewis.com. Nominees also may submit the original plus 10 copies of their documents to: Scott A. Memmott, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, 1111 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004.

For additional inquiries, contact Memmott at 202-739-5098 or at the previously listed e-mail address.—T.S.

Bar Members Must Complete Practice Course
New members of the District of Columbia Bar are reminded that they have 12 months from the date of admission to complete the required course on District of Columbia practice offered by the D.C. Bar Continuing Legal Education Program.

D.C. Bar members who have been inactive, retired, or voluntarily resigned for five years or more also are required to complete the course if they are seeking to switch or be reinstated to active member status. In addition, members who have been suspended for five years or more for nonpayment of dues or late fees are required to take the course to be reinstated.

New members who do not complete the mandatory course requirement within 12 months of admission receive a noncompliance notice and a final 60-day window in which to comply. After that date, the Bar administratively suspends individuals who have not completed the course and forwards their names to the clerks of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and to the Office of Bar Counsel.

Suspensions become a permanent part of members’ records. To be reinstated, one must complete the course and pay a $50 fee.

The preregistration fee is $219; the on-site fee is $279. Course dates are March 6, April 13, May 8, June 8, July 10, August 10, September 11, October 5, November 6, and December 7. Advanced registration is encouraged.

For more information or to register online, visit www.dcbar.org/mandatorycourse.

Law Firms Swap Suits for Jeans for Justice
During any ordinary workday, swarms of people in suits walk the streets of Washington, D.C. For one day, however, attorneys and staff at local law firms dressed down for the Go Casual for Justice Jeans Day, a fundraiser organized as part of the National Pro Bono Week Celebration in October.

Lawyers and staff from 33 firms donated $5 or more to wear jeans in the office. The fundraiser brought in more than $33,500, which was donated to the D.C. Bar Foundation for its programs that support the District’s nonprofit legal services community. Already, half of the money is being put to work through the foundation’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). In January, the foundation issued 53 LRAP awards to poverty lawyers working on behalf of the District’s poor.

“The fact is that we didn’t have enough money to fully fund the LRAP awards this year,” said Katherine Garrett, the foundation’s executive director. “Through people’s generosity, we were able to provide at least three additional LRAP awards as a result of Casual for Justice.”

To rally his colleagues to support Casual for Justice, Sidley Austin LLP managing partner Carter Phillips issued a friendly challenge: Raise more than $4,000 and the diehard Ohio State Buckeyes fan would do the unthinkable—wear a hat and tie embossed with logos of the University of Michigan Wolverines. If they raise less than $3,000, pro bono counsel Rebecca Troth and associate Clifford Berlow would sing the Ohio State fight song in the firm’s atrium.

With 141 participants, the firm raised nearly $6,000 and watched Phillips don the Michigan gear at a Halloween party, complete with blinking lights to highlight the “M” on his cap.

“Sidley has always been committed to pro bono work and helping the communities in which we have offices,” said Ronald S. Flagg, a partner at the firm and president-elect of the D.C. Bar. “We feel very strongly that the fundraising efforts of the D.C. Bar Foundation are especially critical today, when the legal needs in our community are growing at the same time the resources available to legal service providers are shrinking. I hope Casual for Justice can make an even bigger contribution to these efforts in 2010.”

Dechert LLP, another contributor to the event’s success, already has plans to expand its Casual for Justice fundraiser by involving its London office. With the support of so many firms in the area, Pro Bono Week organizers are excited for this year’s event, which is slated for October 29, 2010.—T.S.

trendsHealthy Habits for the Short-on-Time Crowd
Everyone knows somebody who has done it—and we may be equally guilty ourselves. With a pint of ice cream in hand, we have watched The Biggest Loser, raving about how motivating the two-hour weight loss show is. Throw in the local news and The Tonight Show, and we have quickly become a statistic—the group of people who, according to a study by Australian researchers, watch four or more hours of television a day, increasing our mortality rate by 46 percent.

Lawyers easily fall into this category. Despite 16-hour days chock-full of briefs, depositions, and client dinners, they lead sedentary—albeit stressful—lives that put them in the company of couch potatoes.

The evidence is stacked against them. Lawyers are prone to coronary artery disease, hypertension, and ulcers. In a study published in the June 1997 issue of The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the most recent report available, epidemiologists determined that female lawyers working more than 45 hours a week were three times more likely to suffer a miscarriage. And while attorneys are movers and shakers in the figurative sense, they literally move less than the majority of the population.

The American Council on Exercise reported that lawyers were near the top of the least active occupations, traveling an average of two miles a day compared to, for instance, mail carriers who logged six miles in an eight-hour period.

A Weighty Subject
With little movement beyond ascending the corporate ladder, weight gain is a reality many people in the legal community face. In 2003 Mark Leventhal, an associate at Bode & Grenier, LLP, weighed 220 pounds and heard three words from his doctor that spurred him into action: “You are obese.” For Leventhal, eating well was his biggest obstacle. “On the Today show they say, ‘Let’s cut up apples and drizzle honey over them. It makes a wonderful snack.’ In reality, how many lawyers actually have time to cut up apples and drizzle honey over them?” he asked. Leventhal does, however, try to plan for the day as much as possible. He buys a salad in the morning and brings fruit and snacks to work. He keeps healthy, frozen meals in the firm’s fridge in anticipation of inevitable late nights.

Already exercising most mornings, Leventhal became even more diligent at the gym. Through Team in Training, a charity sports training program, he ran his first marathon on June 6, 2004. To date, he has run 14 marathons and 19 half marathons, and has dropped more than 50 pounds.

Training for marathons may not be everyone’s goal, but there are simple ways to fit exercise into a busy schedule. The key is being creative. Below are a few tips to stay active.

Create a Mini-Gym
Bring in dumbbells, mats, fitness balls, resistance bands, and other exercise equipment as space, money, and noise allow. Don’t have an office? See if there is an empty office that can be converted into a small gym.

While adults should participate in 2½ hours of moderate level activities— or at least 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous workout—each week, exercise does not have to be completed in long stretches of time. “You can get health benefits from engaging in physical activity in bouts as short as 10 minutes at a time,” said Dr. Carol E. Torgan, a health scientist and representative for the American College of Sports Medicine. Instead of sauntering to the vending machine for a break, pull out those dumbbells or crank out a few crunches.

Keep it Moving
Since the mid-1990s, Judge T. Rawles Jones Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has been doing three quarters of his office work behind his stand-up desk, custom-made for his six-foot build. Standing improves circulation, burns more calories than sitting, and strengthens back and leg muscles.

Douglas K.W. Landau, a trial lawyer at Abrams Landau, Ltd., often stretches during conference calls, which can reduce fatigue, muscle tension, and stress while increasing flexibility and range of motion in joints.

Like your cushy chair while working? Take the steps instead of the elevator when heading out to lunch. Walk a few extra blocks in the hunt for your daily dose(s) of caffeine. Bike or run to work, if possible.

Integrate Exercise Into the Job
Admittedly, most of the population is not like Landau, who finds a race in virtually every city he travels to and runs for miles in the middle of the night when he cannot sleep. Despite his boundless energy, he has tricks up his sleeve to ensure he stays fit. Instead of cramming exercise into his schedule, he makes it a part of his job. As a personal injury lawyer, he often runs around accident sites to get a feel for the case, bringing a recorder in case any trial ideas pop up.

He also networks at the gym. “Young lawyers need to practice their elevator speech and make it a locker room speech,” said Landau, who suggests wearing T-shirts branded with the company logo to start conversations. “A former partner used to do weightlifting with a doctor the firm had a relationship with. It’s like taking your best client out for drinks.”

Going out of town? See if your health club is a member of the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, and check out its Web site for the nearest gyms, which often are free or offer a reduced rate. Local community colleges also have free tracks on which to run.

The best advice is to stop putting exercise at the bottom of the ever-growing to-do list. “No lawyer I know is so organized that they have all their work finished every single day,” Landau said. “There are always things you can do … that you can go back to and do better. It’s got to be good enough to be done, and then you’ve got to move on and do the things that are important for you, your longevity.”—T.S.

Reach D.C. Bar staff writers Kathryn Alfisi and Thai Phi Stone at kalfisi@dcbar.org and tstone@dcbar.org, respectively.