Washington Lawyer

Legal Beat

From Washington Lawyer, March 2011

By Kathryn Alfisi and Thai Phi Le

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

Whitman-Walker’s Loubier Wins 2011 Scoutt Prize
Erin M. Loubier, senior managing attorney and director of public benefits of the Whitman-Walker Clinic’s Legal Services Program, has been selected the 2011 recipient of the Jerrold Scoutt Prize by the District of Columbia Bar Foundation.

“I am deeply honored to receive the Scoutt Prize. I have been very lucky to work with incredible colleagues and inspiring clients at Whitman-Walker Clinic, and many mentors and friends in the D.C. public interest legal community. I consider myself extremely fortunate to help those in need access health care and lifeline public benefits,” Loubier said. “I am both humbled and profoundly grateful that the D.C. Bar Foundation has chosen to recognize me and the Whitman-Walker Clinic this year. I hope that the small ways that I contribute to our community will help carry on the vision and legacy of Jerrold Scoutt.”

The prize is awarded annually to an attorney who has worked for a significant portion of his or her career at a nonprofit organization, providing hands-on legal services to the District’s disadvantaged residents; demonstrated compassionate concern for his or her clients; and exhibited a high degree of skill on their behalf.

loubierOver the past 12 years, Loubier has worked at Whitman-Walker on behalf of people living with HIV/AIDS and other serious medical conditions, as well as for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals. She is one of the District’s leading experts on health insurance for low-income people and on public benefits programs. Loubier has represented hundreds of individuals in complex and challenging public benefits matters, and she has worked to address systemic issues with advocacy and litigation.

Loubier also helped develop and implement groundbreaking integrated services for clients who seek medical services at Whitman-Walker, providing legal advice and support at the earliest possible, and often critical, point for those who may be living with HIV or AIDS.

In addition to her work at Whitman-Walker, Loubier trains and mentors pro bono attorneys. She is a graduate of Drew University and American University’s Washington College of Law.

The Scoutt Prize is named in honor of Jerrold Scoutt Jr., a founding partner at Zuckert, Scoutt & Rasenberger, L.L.P. and longtime supporter of legal services for the needy. The prize winner receives a stipend of $2,500, which is funded by the firm.

The D.C. Bar Foundation will present the 2011 Scoutt Prize during the D.C. Bar Judicial Reception on May 3. For more information, contact Katherine L. Garrett, executive director of the D.C. Bar Foundation, at 202-467-3750, ext. 12, or garrett@dcbarfoundation.org.—K.A.

Bar Partners With Fastcase to Launch Free Legal Research Tool
Active and judicial members of the D.C. Bar can now access a comprehensive online law library with Fastcase, the newest member benefit offered by the Bar.

The Bar has partnered with Fastcase, a Washington, D.C.-based company that combines the best of legal research with the best of Web search, to provide active and judicial members with a powerful tool for finding the law.

“The D.C. Bar is thrilled to be joining the Fastcase family, which brings a comprehensive legal research library to our members’ fingertips at little or no cost. We are confident that this innovative and powerful program will quickly become the Bar’s most popular member benefit offering,” D.C. Bar Communications Director Cynthia Kuhn said.

To use the service, active and judicial members should go to the Bar’s Web site at www.dcbar.org, click on the Fastcase icon, and log in using their existing username and password for the Bar site. Members who do not recall their log in information can retrieve it from the log in page. If you experience problems logging into Fastcase, e–mail the D.C. Bar at memberservices@dcbar.org.

The Fastcase service for active and judicial members includes free access to D.C. and some federal case law; users may add unlimited access to the full Fastcase law library for $195 per year, an 80 percent discount off the standard premium cost. Enterprise licenses are also available for law firms and organizations.

Fastcase was founded in 1999 and has more than 500,000 subscribers globally. It began providing member benefits to state bar associations in 2005 and has since signed member benefit agreements with 20 state bar associations and numerous voluntary and metropolitan bar associations.

D.C. Bar members can access Fastcase training and research support at no cost, available under the “Help” menu once they are logged into Fastcase. Members can also contact Fastcase directly from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-866-773-2782 or dcbar@fastcase.com. Additionally, Washington Lawyer readers can find a Fastcase primer on pages 28–31 of the February 2011 issue.—K.A.

International Law Section Honors Public Service Advocates
On January 19 the D.C. Bar International Law Section recognized DLA Piper LLP’s nonprofit pro bono affiliate, New Perimeter, for its public service efforts, as well as posthumously honored Harvey B. Fox of Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg LLP for his community work.

The section’s annual awards luncheon serves as a tribute to D.C. Bar members and local organizations for their contributions to international law and practice through longstanding commitment to public service in various fields of international law. This year’s event highlighted contributions in the areas of international trade and investment

Section chair Penny Wakefield presented the Public Service Award to New Perimeter, which provides pro bono legal services for international projects in developing and post-conflict countries. DLA Piper attorneys from offices around the world have worked on assignments that tackle the growing issues of health care, hunger, economic development, law reform, and human development.

In the time since New Perimeter was established in 2005, DLA Piper has given 13,000 attorney hours per year to the program, which translates to $6 million in donated legal services annually.

“It’s a tremendous honor to receive this special recognition of New Perimeter’s ongoing commitment to international pro bono service from the D.C. Bar’s International Law Section,” said Sheldon Krantz, director of New Perimeter and a partner at DLA Piper. “We are extremely proud of New Perimeter’s accomplishments thus far and look forward to continuing to expand the scope and geographic reach of our pro bono service.”

V. James Adduci II, managing partner at Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg, accepted the section’s Community Service Award on behalf of Fox, a former partner at the firm. Fox, who died in 2010 of cancer, dedicated more than 30 years of his career to the development and improvement of U.S. customs law, regulation, and policy.

The luncheon ended with remarks from keynote speaker Gary Doer, ambassador of Canada to the United States, who spoke about trade relations between the two countries.—T.L.

Bar Seeks Nominations for 2011 Awards
The D.C. Bar is seeking nominations for outstanding projects and contributions by Bar members, which will be recognized at the Bar’s 2011 Celebration of Service. The deadline for submissions is April 1.

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

Award nominations must be submitted to Katherine A. Mazzaferri, Chief Executive Officer, District of Columbia Bar, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210, or online at www.dcbar.org/awards.

The winners will be honored during the gala dinner on June 30 at the Grand Ballroom of the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW. The event also will feature the presentation of the Bar’s Frederick B. Abramson, William J. Brennan Jr., and Beatrice Rosenberg Awards.—K.A.

Raffinan Sworn in as D.C. Superior Court Judge
Maribeth Raffinan was sworn in January 7 as associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia by Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield in a ceremony at the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse.

Raffinan was nominated by President Barack Obama in July 2010 and confirmed by the Senate in September. Prior to her appointment to the bench, Raffinan worked as a staff attorney with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) for 11 years, acting as supervising attorney from 2006 to 2010.

In addition to her regular duties at PDS, Raffinan was cochair of the 2006 Deborah T. Creek Criminal Practice Institute, served on the Superior Court’s Drug Court Committee, performed trainings for Criminal Justice Act panel attorneys, led trial practice groups, and served as a rotating attorney with the Special Litigation Division.

From 1996 to 1999, Raffinan worked with the Federal Public Defender for the District of Columbia as a research and writing specialist. She is a member of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association and the Philippine American Bar Association.

Raffinan is a graduate of Boston College and The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law.—K.A.

Bar Seeks Candidates for Committee Vacancies
The D.C. Bar Board of Governors is seeking candidates for appointments this spring to the Attorney/Client Arbitration Board, Clients’ Security Fund, Judicial Evaluation Committee, Legal Ethics Committee, and D.C. Bar Foundation, as well as to the Board on Professional Responsibility (BPR) of the D.C. Court of Appeals. Résumés must be received by March 15.

All lawyer 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 or board on which they would like to serve, to the D.C. Bar Executive Office, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210. Online submissions can be made at www.dcbar.org/vacancies.

Additionally, Bar members interested in being considered for BPR hearing committee vacancies that arise periodically should send a letter of interest and résumé to the Board on Professional Responsibility, 430 E Street NW, Suite 138, Washington, DC 20001. 

New Clinic Assists Residents in Resolving Disputes
The Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) have partnered to launch a Community Dispute Resolution Clinic. The new clinic began operations February 8.

The clinic is designed to help Spanish-speaking District residents resolve disagreements ranging from consumer disputes to housing arguments. Residents may seek help with disputes over car repairs, debt or loan repayments, home improvements, housing security deposits and repairs, and unpaid wages, as well as conflicts between stores and merchants, among other issues. The clinic aims to avoid the costs associated with resolving such issues in court.

“I appreciate the efforts of CARECEN to assist the court in making its services more convenient and accessible to Spanish-speaking members of our community,” Superior Court Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield said. “Dispute resolution is an effective way to resolve disputes, less involved and costly for the participants, and obviously a saving of court-time as well. Most importantly, dispute resolution is a process that results in a compromise, a situation where both parties are pleased with the resolution.”

To try to settle a dispute, a bilingual specialist from the Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division of the Superior Court works with all parties, contacting other persons involved when appropriate. The specialist also helps identify possible community resources that may help resolve the issue.

The clinic is held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. It is located at the CARECEN offices at 1460 Columbia Road NW. For more information about the Community Dispute Resolution Clinic or to schedule an appointment, contact CARECEN at 202-328-9799, ext. 18.—T.L.

Partnership Project Upgrades School’s Computer Lab
childrenAt noon on February 1, attorneys and staff of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP descended on James A. Garfield Elementary School in Southeast Washington, D.C., with 19 netbooks in hand. “Whoas” and delighted squeals echoed through the school’s computer lab as students scrambled to test out the new laptops.

The law firm’s gift was made possible through the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs’ D.C. Public School Partnership Project. The program links up District law firms and corporate legal departments with local public schools to help bring critical resources to these schools.

Nearly a year ago, Garfield Elementary School and Paul Hastings were paired up following a needs assessment survey. Attorneys and staff immediately made an impact. They helped organize field day activities and sponsored a holiday card contest. They observed Jeans Day in the office to help the school raise money and donated 100 tickets to a Washington Wizards game for students, families, and staff.

Among the firm’s most successful events was a book drive. Attorneys contacted a local Borders bookstore and secured discounts; the school also received books that were not sold after the store went out of business.

During the holiday season, principal Angela Tilghman recalls receiving a call from the firm, asking her to make a wish. She was told that each year the firm holds a holiday party that also serves as a fundraiser. “I said my biggest wish right now is that we would have some computers in our school to be able to put in our computer lab,” Tilghman said.

Already grateful for the firm’s prior acts of generosity, Tilghman was beyond excited when she heard it was donating 19 netbooks to the school.

“Fantastic doesn’t even describe what it is. Absolutely, positively wonderful,” she said. “We really don’t have opportunities for them to use computers because the computers that we do have are so old and antiquated. These allow us to go out and use the Web immediately, and to be able to use some of the instructional programs that we haven’t been able to use because of our lack of equipment.”

The laptops, she said, will help improve the students’ educational experience. “This really is a wonderful partnership,” Tilghman said.

With the help of Paul Hastings’ England office, Garfield students also will be connected to a local school there through Skype.

The Public School Partnership Project currently has more than 25 active partnerships that facilitate tutoring services, technology training, fundraising support, field trips, and other enriching and educational activities.

Firms and organizations interested in getting involved should contact the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs at WLC@washlaw.org.—T.L.

Georgetown’s Legal Studies Center Wins Heiskell Award
Georgetown University Law Center’s London-based Center for Transnational Legal Studies (CTLS) will receive the 2011 Andrew Heiskell Award for International Partnerships from the Institute of International Education (IIE), marking the first time the award has been given to a program focused on legal education.

“I am pleased to see CTLS, and the innovative cooperation of its partner schools around the world, recognized in this way. We thank IIE for the honor,” Georgetown Law dean William M. Treanor said. “CTLS offers a vision of what legal education can aspire to in an increasingly interconnected world. We believe that the Center uniquely prepares its students for global legal practice in the 21st century.”

CTLS opened in 2008 with initial partners Free University of Berlin, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, King’s College London, National University of Singapore, University of Fribourg, University of Melbourne, University of Sao Paulo, University of Torino, and University of Toronto. ESADE Law School in Barcelona and the National Autonomous University of Mexico followed soon after.

The program brings together faculty and students from 24 law schools in five continents to study international, transnational, and comparative law, as well as to prepare students for transnational legal practice by exposing them to ideas, faculty, and fellow students from different legal systems and cultures.

The Heiskell Awards, established in 2001, seek “to promote and honor the most outstanding initiatives that are being conducted in international higher education by IIENetwork member universities and colleges.” The Heiskell Award for International Partnerships recognizes “innovative international partnership efforts.”

The awards will be presented on March 18 in New York as part of IIE’s Sixth Annual Best Practices in Internationalization Conference.—K.A.

Bar Speeds Up CLE Course Registration With QR Codes
The D.C. Bar will begin incorporating a quick response (QR) code into its spring Continuing Legal Education catalog to make online registration for courses faster and easier.

QR codes are black and white images that resemble and function much like barcodes. Unlike the typical barcode, however, they provide detailed, Web-based information such as URL links, product details, and event information when scanned by a mobile phone.

To utilize this new technology, users simply need to download a bar-code scanner application to their smart phones, which will then be able to read the code. By scanning the QR code in the CLE catalog, interested participants can immediately view a current listing of all upcoming courses in the next three months and register immediately.

QR codes are quickly becoming important tools for numerous businesses, appearing on airline tickets, billboards, business cards, magazines, and in newspapers.—T.L.

Eight Dads Graduate From Fathering Court Program
fatheringOn January 28 the Superior Court of the District of Columbia handed out diplomas to eight graduates of its Fathering Court initiative, the largest number of graduates since the program was launched in 2008.

The Fathering Court is intended to help fathers returning from prison become better parents, both financially and emotionally. The program combines needs-assessment, skill development opportunities, case management, peer support, completion of a mandatory curriculum, and contact with community resources. Participants of the program also have access to such services as housing assistance and referrals, substance abuse treatment and counseling, and mediation services.

“Each of these gentlemen has done everything we’ve asked them to do and so much more, and they’ve done [it] for all the right reasons,” said Fathering Court deputy clerk Ronnie A. Mitchell in his opening remarks. “I hope they recognize this more than just a graduation, but as the start of a solid foundation that will guide them through the rest of their lives. … I always say that now that you’ve graduated, the work really begins.”

Before receiving their diplomas, each of the graduates was introduced by someone who works for the program. Among the graduates was Reginald Tyson, once homeless but now holds two jobs and credits the program with helping him reenter society.

“It made me feel like I was a part of something; it helped me tremendously. The only way I can keep what I’ve got is by giving it back,” Tyson said.

Fathering Court Presiding Judge Milton C. Lee also praised the work of this year’s graduates. “You’ve overcome so much, demonstrating that there’s really no limit to what you can accomplish. One thing that I want to ensure you have is that you’re graduating from this program but you’re not graduating from this family. You’ll always be part of the Fathering Court,” he said.

The graduation also featured comments from Superior Court Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield; Ron Scott, Fathering Court program manager; Family Court Presiding Judge Zoe Bush; motivational speaker LeCount Holmes Jr.; and a musical performance from Soloman Howard.—K.A.

Superior Court Loses Two Judges, Seeks Candidates to Fill Vacancies
The District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission has announced that there will be two vacancies on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia this spring, and it seeks candidates to fill the positions. Application materials must be received by the close of business on March 18.

The Superior Court will lose two judges to retirement. Judge John H. Bayly Jr. will step down effective April 22; Judge Stephanie Duncan-Peters will depart May 3. The commission must submit the names of three people for nomination within 60 days of each vacancy to the president of the United States.

The successful candidate must be a citizen of the United States; an active member of the D.C. Bar who has been engaged in the active practice of law in the District for the five years immediately preceding the nomination, been on the faculty of a law school in the District, or employed as a lawyer by the U.S. or the District government. The candidate must also be a bona fide resident of the District who has maintained an actual place of residence for at least 90 days immediately prior to the nomination and will retain such residency while serving as judge; and is recommended to the president, for such nomination and appointment, by the Judicial Nomination Commission; and has not served, within a period of two years prior to the nomination, as a member of the D.C. Tenure Commission or the Judicial Nomination Commission.

Those interested in applying for these vacancies must follow the instructions and application materials on the commission’s Web site at www.jnc.dc.gov.

In addition to paper copies submitted to the commission, applicants should e-mail their letters of interest, résumés, and applicant questionnaires in separate PDF files to the commission’s executive director and each commission member. The e-mail subject line should include the applicant’s name and state that the e-mail contains application materials for a judicial vacancy.

While the commission does not require letters of recommendation, letters of support, or endorsements, it will accept them. Such letters should be received by the commission within 30 days from the application deadline date or by the close of business on April 18.

Address applications and correspondence to Kim M. Whatley, executive director, Judicial Nomination Commission, 515 Fifth Street NW, suite 235, Washington, D.C. 20001.

For questions, contact Whatley at 202-879-0478 or dc.jnc@dc.gov.—K.A.

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. Upcoming dates are March 19, April 12, May 14, June 7, July 9, August 9, September 10, and October 4. Advanced registration is encouraged.

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

NLCHP Report: HUD Homelessness Prevention Program Falls Short
A new report by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP), released in January, indicates that the federal government’s first comprehensive homelessness prevention program is running low on funds while homelessness continues to rise across the country.

NLCHP examined the successes and problems of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), launched in 2009 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a new approach to preventing homelessness.

The report, “On the Edge: How HUD Can Improve the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program,” reveals that most of the program’s $1.5 billion funding, part of President Obama’s economic stimulus package, has been depleted. The report is based on a survey conducted by NLCHP among 121 service providers a year after HPRP funds were made available.

“What we’ve found is that if people can make it through the program’s bureaucracy, HPRP can be a very successful way to prevent or rapidly end homelessness. But without a major increase in funding, and some adjustments to how these programs are administered, we’ll barely be making a dent in the problem,” said NLCHP policy director Jeremy Rosen, who was the primary writer and researcher of the report.

Based on current spending trends, cities benefitting from HPRP could run out of money before the program ends in 2012. The report cites Detroit, which distributed an estimated 50,000 applications to homeless or near-homeless people for its 3,500 HPRP grants on the first day the funds were available. Wilmington, Delaware, has already used 87 percent of its HPRP funds while Tallahassee, Florida, has spent 84 percent of it.

“HUD’s homelessness prevention programs are an essential part of our nation’s response to this growing human rights crisis. During this crucial time, we urge Congress to fully fund these programs and we urge HUD to work to make them as efficient and effective as possible,” said NLCHP founder and executive director Maria Foscarinis.

In addition to more funding, the report suggests the need for HUD to provide greater outreach to individuals and families in need of HPRP assistance, clarified standards to help local communities better administer the program, and quicker distribution of funds.—K.A.

Superior Court Unveils Portrait of Former Chief Judge King
kingThe commissioned portrait of former Superior Court of the District of Columbia Chief Judge Rufus G. King III was unveiled on January 21, continuing the tradition of displaying privately funded portraits of former chief judges in recognition of their service.

The ceremony featured remarks from current Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield; D.C. Court of Appeals Senior Judge William C. Pryor; Jonathan Dana, a managing partner at Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell LLP; Lawrence Eiser of the U.S. Department of Justice; and D. Michael Lyles of the U.S. Department of Defense.

“At their best, portraits are lessons in history. The magic of the brush strokes can distill people to their essence, and so it is here. This fine portrait captures so well Judge King’s life force—it reminds us vividly of the power of one man, one leader, to make a difference, especially one who is unconcerned about who gets credit,” said Eiser, who had served as a law clerk to King.

The portrait was overseen by a commission formed with the support and guidance of Judge Satterfield. Maryland artist Peter Egeli was selected by Judge King to paint his portrait. Egeli’s artwork has been commissioned by U.S. government agencies, state and federal courts, foundations, educational institutions, and corporations.

King was a judge at the Superior Court for more than 26 years, serving as chief judge from 2000 to 2008 when he took senior status.

The portrait will hang in the ceremonial courtroom 315 of the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse.—K.A.

Campaign Promotes Benchmark Giving to Aid Civil Legal Services
Across the District of Columbia, residents are lining up at shelters in search of a warm place to stay and food to eat. Unemployment levels continue to rise at rates above the national average. Incidence of family violence is growing at alarming rates. The need for civil legal services has never been greater. To meet the demand, the D.C. Access to Justice Commission launched the Raising the Bar Campaign in December.

With the endorsement of the D.C. Bar and the D.C. Bar Foundation, the campaign aims to substantially raise the financial support to the District’s legal services community by recognizing law firms that generously give at specific benchmark levels. The highest givers, those that donate at least .11 percent of their office revenue, reach the platinum level. The gold level signifies those that give .09 percent, and silver recognizes firms that donate .075 percent. Cash donations, donated attorneys’ fees, and support for fellowships are included in the percentage.

Eight law firms have thrown their support behind the campaign by joining the Leadership Circle and pledging to donate funds at one of the three levels in 2011. Members of the Circle include Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Covington & Burling LLP, Crowell & Moring LLP, DLA Piper LLP, Jenner & Block LLP, Sidley Austin LLP, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP. In an open appeals letter, these eight firms also have urged their counterparts at other local firms to join the mission, stressing the importance of the private bar in providing legal services to the poor.

“This is an important and long overdue initiative,” said Frank M. Cooper III, managing partner of DLA Piper. “Since 2001, the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Initiative has provided guidance for firms in establishing pro bono hours targets. Until now, there has not been any comparable guidance for monetary donations.”

While pro bono hours are critical, so are the financial donations. According to the commission, legal services funding dropped 25 percent in 2009 as the requests for services rose 20 percent. Legal services organizations had to make cuts, losing 12 percent of their lawyers and nearly 40 percent of their nonattorney staff.

R. Bruce McLean, chair of Akin Gump, added, “We are confident that many firms will be moved by this campaign. As lawyers, we share a unique obligation to ensure equal access to justice. For most of us, this commitment is more than a matter of ethical obligation—it is a matter of principle.”

For more information or to join the campaign, contact Jess Rosenbaum, executive director of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission, at 202-344-4441 or jess.rosenbaum@dcaccesstojustice.org.—T.L.

Former Bar President Keeney Joins Legal Aid Society
Former D.C. Bar president Jack Keeney, a partner at Hogan Lovells, began work January 31 as director of the Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. The project aims to help the civil legal services community develop a poverty law reform agenda, bringing appellate litigation that may influence laws to help poor litigants living in the nation’s capital.

“This is an incredible opportunity for me. It’s an opportunity to be hands-on in writing the appellate briefs, doing the appellate arguments, but even more fundamentally, in helping to plan and develop the law reform strategy to help D.C.’s poor,” Keeney said. “Hogan has been absolutely great in terms of the pro bono that I have done here in my 32 years. It’s now time, in this time of crisis for legal aid providers, to be doing more of it.”

His transition to Legal Aid received deep support from his colleagues at Hogan Lovells, which made an in-kind donation of certain administrative services to assist Legal Aid.

“While we will greatly miss Jack’s leadership and substantial contributions to our practice and operations, it is hard to imagine a better fit for this vital work at Legal Aid,” said J. Warren Gorrell Jr., co-chief executive officer of Hogan Lovells. “We all look forward to deepening our important relationship with Legal Aid as Jack becomes a leading voice in our appellate courts for those living in poverty in our city.”

During his tenure at Hogan Lovells, Keeney focused his trial practice on complex litigation involving securities, fiduciary duties, legal malpractice, and federal election law. From 1989 to 1993, he served as partner-in-charge of the firm’s community services department, which received the 1991 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award for outstanding law firm pro bono program. He joined the firm following a clerkship with Judge Alexander Harvey of the U.S. District Court for Maryland.

Keeney’s commitment to both the D.C. community and legal field is apparent in his numerous affiliations. He served as chair of the Legal Needs Subcommittee of the D.C. Bar Public Service Activities Committee and served on the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Initiative Working Group.

The Appellate Advocacy Program was founded in 2004 and named in honor of its first director, Barbara McDowell, who died in 2009. “This is the project that, in addition to doing the briefs and oral arguments, helps to set the agenda in consultation and cooperation with many other players in the D.C. public interest community,” Keeney said. “The idea that we can actually approach the problems of poverty in the District of Columbia, look for legal solutions, and then bring appropriate legal cases before the D.C. Court of Appeals to establish those rights—that is a very unique and exciting opportunity.”—T.L.

Breyer Leads Talk on High Court’s Role in Active Democracy
A few floors above the Newseum’s Walter and Leonore Annenberg Theater is a room filled with newspapers spanning the centuries and chronicling the history of the nation. Towering up front on the museum’s facade are the carefully crafted words of the First Amendment.

The Newseum was a fitting venue for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer on January 20 when he spoke about the critical role the Court has played in making democracy work. Joined by Harold Hongju Koh, legal advisor for the U.S. Department of State, Breyer discussed how the Supreme Court intersects with freedom, democracy, and the law.

The forum, “Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge’s View,” also the title of Breyer’s new book, was presented by the Supreme Court Fellows Program Alumni Association and the First Amendment Center.

The first part of the conversation centered on Breyer’s view that the Supreme Court should interpret the U.S. Constitution in a way that would encourage citizen participation in government. Active liberty, he said, is crucial to a functioning society that aims to protect individual liberties.

“I can’t tell you what kind of life you ought to lead. I hope you’ll have a job, a good professional career. I hope you’ll have family, children. Very lucky for you. And I hope you will spend some time working in the community. The people who wrote this document thought you would participate,” said Breyer, holding up a copy of the Constitution in his hand. No one, he continued, can force citizens to participate in government and help shape public policy. However, without active involvement, the democratic process will not work as the Founders intended it to, Breyer said.  

Turning the discussion, Koh asked how judicial supremacy makes democracy work. Why is Congress or the president, he said, not in charge of resolving the issues that appear before the Court?

Breyer reminded the audience that whoever oversees the cases must protect the rights of the most unpopular people. There are alleged greedy corporate leaders, child molesters, and racists—and all still have the same rights as everyone else in the nation. Congress and the president still have to play the political game, and defending the ostracized is not something they could easily and likely do without biases.

Breyer said acceptance of judicial opinion has taken years, but in the United States the executive branch follows through on Court decisions regardless of its own opinions. He cited the aftermath of the Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, declaring the desegregation of public schools unconstitutional. In 1957 then Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called on the National Guard to keep black students from entering Little Rock High School. Despite widespread dissent against the integration of public schools, President Dwight Eisenhower upheld the decision and deployed 101st Airborne Division paratroopers to allow students to enter safely.

“In this country, there’s no view so crazy there isn’t somebody who doesn’t hold it. It’s true,” laughed Breyer. “We think all kinds of things, but 309 million people have come together to agree that disputes will be resolved peacefully under law. Now that is a treasure. It’s not the only treasure in the United States, but it is a treasure and it’s not something lightly discarded.”

The forum ended with talk about the evolving nature of law, as Koh and Breyer discussed the value of analyzing foreign law to possibly help interpret the U.S. Constitution.
“Learn where you can learn,” said Breyer. If England makes a ruling that can be applied in the United States,
why not use it? While the Constitution is rarely amended, the law is ever-changing to fit society’s needs, he said.

“Those words in the Constitution do protect something that is permanent,” said Breyer. “It describes permanent values, but it’s the job of the judge to take those permanent values and work out how they apply to circumstances that are continually changing. The Founders did not think of airplanes. They even were unaware of the Internet. Yet the First Amendment applies to the Internet. How and in what way?”

Answering those questions, Breyer said, is the role of a judge.—T.L.

Hispanic Bar Elects New Officers, Board Members
The Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia (HBA-DC) has elected a new set of officers and board members during its annual meeting on January 20 at the St. Gregory Hotel.

The new officers will join President William Alvarado Rivera and Immediate Past President Kenia Seoane López on the board of directors.

Lyzka P. DeLaCruz is president-elect; Juan Sempertegui, vice president for external affairs; Christina Brito, vice president for internal affairs; Leonor Velazquez Davila, vice president for membership; Erik J. Burgos, treasurer; and Maria G. Mendoza, secretary.

The newly elected board members are Sergio Balbontin, Holli Feichko, Jilma M. Lasso, Sergio F. Oehninger, Eldy Quintanilla De Roché, Fernando Rivero, and Marie Scott.

HBA-DC, a nonprofit organization, was founded in 1977 as the Hispanic Lawyers Association. Its membership includes several hundred lawyers practicing in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia; Latino students attending local law schools; and non-lawyers who join as associate members.—K.A.

Obama Considers Three Nominees for Court of Appeals Vacancy
The District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission has forwarded to President Obama the names of three candidates—Corinne Ann Beckwith, Todd Sunhwae Kim, and Walter A. Smith Jr.—to fill a judicial vacancy on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.

The three nominees have been submitted as candidates for the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Inez Smith Reid.

Beckwith has been an attorney in the Appellate Division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia since 1999, and a supervisor since 2009. Before her current position, Beckwith worked as an appellate attorney at Michigan’s State Appellate Defender Office and taught criminal appellate practice at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Kalamazoo College in Michigan and a Master of Science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois. Following law school, Beckwith served as a law clerk to Judge Richard D. Cudahy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and then to Associate Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kim has served as the Solicitor General of the District of Columbia since 2006. Prior to his current position, Kim was an appellate attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental and Natural Resources Division. Kim is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He served as a law clerk to Judge Judith W. Rogers on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Smith has served as executive director of DC Appleseed Center of Law and Justice since 2001. Prior to joining DC Appleseed, Smith served two years as a special deputy corporation counsel for the District of Columbia, and was a partner at Hogan & Hartson LLP (now known as Hogan Lovells) where he was a full-time director of the firm’s pro bono practice. Smith is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Harvard Law School, and The George Washington University Law School. He served as a law clerk to Judge Charles Clark on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

President Obama has 60 days to select a nominee to fill the vacancy.—K.A.

BPR Seeks Volunteers for Hearing Committees
The Board on Professional Responsibility of the D.C. Court of Appeals is seeking D.C. Bar members and members of the public who are interested in serving on its Hearing Committees.

There are 12 Hearing Committees of the board assigned to hear lawyer discipline cases brought by Bar Counsel, and contested petitions for reinstatement filed by attorneys who are disbarred or suspended and required to prove fitness to practice as a condition of reinstatement. Each Hearing Committee is composed of two attorneys and one public member. Lawyer members must be members of the D.C. Bar. In addition to the 12 standing committees, there is a roster of alternate Hearing Committee members who serve when a regular member is unavailable.

In contested disciplinary and reinstatement cases, the Hearing Committees consider evidence and the testimony of witnesses taken under oath. Committees generally are guided, but not bound, by provisions or rules of court practice, procedure, pleading, and evidence. Contested hearings can range from a few hours to several days. At the conclusion of the hearing, the parties file briefs, and the committee drafts a report to the board, with findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a recommended sanction. Reports usually are drafted by the committee chair, but the drafting may be delegated to another member. Hearing Committees also consider petitions for negotiated discipline, conduct limited hearings on the petitions, and may reject the petition or recommend acceptance to the court. Each Hearing Committee considers three to five cases a year, and hearings are open to the public.

Hearing Committee members are appointed by the Board on Professional Responsibility and can serve two consecutive three–year terms.

If you are interested in serving on a Hearing Committee, please send a cover letter and résumé to Elizabeth J. Branda, Executive Attorney, Board on Professional Responsibility, 430 E Street NW, Suite 138, Washington, DC 20001, or e-mail dcboard@dcbpr.org.

Public Health Law Program Issues Third Call for Research Proposals
On January 27 the Public Health Law Research (PHLR) program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released its third call for proposals for studies that will examine the impact of laws and legal practices on public health.

Up to $2.85 million is available in this round of funding. Short-term studies will be funded up to $150,000 each for up to 18 months, while complex and comprehensive studies will be funded up to $450,000 each for up to 30 months.

PHLR’s first two calls for proposals were issued in 2009 and 2010, which has resulted in the funding of 28 studies that address a wide range of legal and public health issues such as effective legal decision making during public health emergencies, zoning laws and walkability, issues related to the public health infrastructure at the state and local levels, and the impact of lead laws on public health.   

“We encourage studies that build the evidence base for healthy public policy,” said Scott Burris, law professor and director of the Center for Health Law, Policy and Practice at Temple University, and who also directs the national program office for PHLR. “The researchers we fund have the potential to contribute game-changing data to policy debates.”

Last year, the second call for proposals resulted in PHLR receiving 152 brief proposals, out of which 54 were invited to submit full proposals and 13 were funded.

Applicants to the new call for proposals will have access to methodology and other technical resources on the PHLR Web site at www.publichealthlawresearch.org.

Brief proposals must be submitted by April 20.

To apply, visit www.rwjf.org.—K.A.

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