Washington Lawyer

Legal Beat: May 2014

From Washington Lawyer, May 2014

By Kathryn Alfisi and Thai Phi Le

D.C. Bar Elections Kick Off on April 29
The D.C. Bar annual elections will open on April 29 for positions on the Board of Governors for the 2014–2015 term, including three seats in the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association. Additionally, elections for steering committees of the Bar’s 20 sections will begin.

The names of the candidates appear in the election coverage article of this issue of Washington Lawyer. Candidate ballots and biographies can be viewed by eligible voters on April 29 by logging in to vote online at www.dcbar.org/vote. Only active Bar members in good standing as of April 15 are eligible to vote in the Bar’s general elections. Active, inactive, and judicial members in good standing who also belong to one or more of the Bar’s sections as of April 15 are eligible to vote in sections elections.

Ballots and instructions for voting, by mail or online, will be distributed to all eligible voters by April 29. Members have until May 23 to vote.

Results of the election will be announced on the Bar’s Web site and at the 2014 Celebration of Leadership, which includes the Bar’s Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting, on Tuesday, June 17, at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW.

Born, Women’s Rights Advocate, Wins Thurgood Marshall Award
Brooksley Born headshot courtesy of Arnold & Porter LLPThe D.C. Bar has selected Brooksley Born as the winner of its 2014 Justice Thurgood Marshall Award, presented biennially to an individual who has shown a strong commitment to and excellence in the fields of civil rights and individual liberties.

Born is a retired partner of Arnold & Porter LLP where she led its derivatives practice and chaired its pro bono committee.

Her public service efforts and achievements will be recognized on June 17 during the 2014 Celebration of Leadership: The D.C. Bar Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW.

“I am absolutely thrilled to receive the award. It is a very special honor to get an award in Thurgood Marshall’s name, who is the very embodiment of civil rights law, and also to be in the company of such distinguished and effective advocates for equality who have received the award before me,” Born said.

Born has championed women’s rights, civil rights, and pro bono legal services. She has been a trailblazer for women in the legal profession, serving as the first female chair of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary and cofounding the ABA Women’s Caucus. She helped establish the Women’s Rights Project of the Center for Law and Social Policy, now known as the National Women’s Law Center, whose board she chairs.

Born joined Arnold & Porter in 1965 and retired from the firm in 2002. In 1996 she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as chair of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), a position she held until 1999. At the CFTC, she strongly advocated for regulation and oversight of the over-the-counter derivatives market.
Born clerked for Judge Henry W. Edgerton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She is the recipient of many awards, including the 2009 John F. Kennedy Library Foundation’s Profile in Courage Award. —K.A.

Youth Law Fair Steers Teens Toward Law, Education, Positivity
Youth Law Fair 2014Students and parents from the Washington metropolitan area gathered on March 22 at the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse to take part in the 15th Annual Youth Law Fair.

The law fair, a joint effort of the D.C. Bar Litigation Section and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, is a free, daylong educational event that brings together students from D.C. area schools with educators, attorneys, judges, and community leaders to learn about the justice system and to explore issues facing the youth today.

Participants began their day by taking tours of the courthouse and visiting education–related exhibits, and then attending a morning session that featured an interactive discussion of this year’s theme, which focused on youth drug and alcohol use.

The students further explored the issue of alcohol and drug use during a mock trial. This year’s law fair also featured performances by Split This Rock’s 2014 D.C. Youth Poetry Slam Team.—K.A.

Members Must Pay D.C. Bar Dues by July 1
The D.C. Bar has sent its members their annual dues statements for fiscal year 2014–2015. The deadline for payment is July 1.

Dues are $268 for active members and $130 for judicial members and inactive members. Dues not received or postmarked by July 15 will be assessed a late fee of $30. Members whose Bar dues and/or late fee, if applicable, are not received or postmarked by September 30 automatically will be suspended.

Payments may be remitted by mail or submitted online at www.dcbar.org/login. 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.

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

Bar’s Board of Governors Approves 2014–2015 Budget
The D.C. Bar’s proposed 2014–2015 budget, as recommended by the Budget Committee, was approved by the Board of Governors at its April 8 meeting. 

The budget calls for an increase in members’ annual dues from $265 to $268 for active members, while dues for judicial and inactive members would remain at $130.

The expenditure budget for dues-funded activities is $25.6 million. Personnel expense makes up 61 percent of the budget; there is a 3 percent pool for staff salary adjustments. Four full-time positions are added to support new initiatives and operational improvements, with a focus on increased use of technology and future revenue generating capabilities. After funding of reserves, a net amount of $260,500 will remain available to be utilized as needed for future expenses or investments.

The overall budgeted deficit for nondues programs in fiscal year 2014–15 is $361,700, which includes a $254,700 deficit for the Pro Bono Program. Deficits will be covered through the use of nondues reserves and/or reduced expenditures.

Full budget details were published in the April 2014 issue of Washington Lawyer and on the Bar’s Web site at www.dcbar.org.—K.A.

Conversing With Kagan
Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan at Georgetown University Law Center. Photo courtesy of Brent Futrell/Georgetown LawU.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan offers her legal insights at the inaugural “Dean’s Lecture to the Graduating Class” on March 17 at the Georgetown University Law Center. Kagan was welcomed by Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor and a host of students in the audience. 

New 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 the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct and 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 onsite fee is $279. Courses will be held May 17, June 10, July 12, August 12, and September 13. Advanced registration is encouraged.

For more information or to register online, visit www.dcbar.org/membership/mandatory-course.cfm.

Holder Delivers Keynote Speech at NAWJ Meeting and Conference
On March 14 U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) “a powerful voice for women jurists at every level” as he addressed attendees of the association’s 2014 Midyear Meeting and Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.

The event, which opened on March 13, brought together judges from across the country as well as leaders in the academic, legal, and business communities.

In his speech, Holder said the NAWJ has “built a long and distinguished record of service and independent advocacy” and “worked to encourage, to motivate, and to inspire America’s future leaders.”

“You’ve stood at the forefront of efforts to increase the diversity of the bench and bar; to develop strong and committed judicial leadership; and to improve the administration of justice for all litigants—and particularly for populations that are too often overlooked and underserved,” Holder said.

As the country marked Women’s History Month in March, celebrating the contributions of many courageous women, Holder said it is also important to seize the opportunity to build on the progress made by trailblazers in the legal profession and to “keep marching down the road that still stretches before us.”

Holder talked at length about the U.S. Department of Justice’s efforts to expand access to justice, including committing more than $24 million in grants, new initiatives, and other forms of direct assistance to support indigent defense throughout the country over the last four years. He said the department’s Office of Justice Programs has funded a range of efforts to educate, train, and equip lawyers to provide quality representation. —K.A.

Judge Richter’s Retirement Leaves Vacancy on D.C. Superior Court
The District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission has announced a vacancy on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia due to the retirement of Judge Robert I. Richter.

The commission will send President Obama a list of names of three persons for possible nomination and appointment to the court, filling the spot left vacant by Judge Richter’s retirement, which takes effect October 2.

To be considered for nomination, applicants must e-mail a copy of their letter of interest, résumé, applicant questionnaire, and writing samples in separate PDF files to the executive director and to each commission member. The e-mail subject line should include the applicant’s name and should state that the e-mail contains application materials for a judicial vacancy.

In addition, an original and one paper copy of the completed application materials must be sent to Kim M. Whatley, Executive Director, Judicial Nomination Commission, 515 Fifth Street NW, Suite 235, Washington, DC 20001.

Application materials must be received by 5 p.m. EDT on May 16. For questions, contact Kim M. Whatley at 202-879-0478 or dc.jnc@dc.gov.

D.C. Bar Foundation Makes Grants to Civil Legal Services Projects
On March 14 the D.C. Bar Foundation announced it had awarded more than $3.4 million in Access to Justice Grants in support of 20 different collaborative civil legal services projects in the District of Columbia.

These projects provide a range of services, from increasing the number of lawyers working on housing issues to widening access to legal services for those living in underserved areas, to providing live interpreters in an attorney–client setting through a shared legal interpreter bank. 

“The Access to Justice funds place lawyers in the most underserved communities of the District. These investments allow the nonprofit legal community to provide high-quality legal services at the doorstep of those who are in most need,” said Marc Fleischaker, president of the D.C. Bar Foundation Board of Directors.

Among the awardees are two new projects, one of which will expand access to legal services for low-income workers in D.C. Wards 5 and 7, and the other will provide legal representation to low-income D.C. residents with disabilities, enabling them to make their own decisions and direct their lives. 

This is the eighth year the Council of the District of Columbia has appropriated funding to expand legal services in underserved areas of the District. Other funding sources include income generated from the Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts held by D.C. Bar members and private donations. The Bar Foundation identifies and monitors the Access to Justice grantees. 

 To see the complete list of grantees, visit www.dcbarfoundation.org.—K.A.

Court Seeks Comments on Proposed Rule Changes on Pro Bono Legal Work
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals seeks comments on a proposed amendment to D.C. App. R. 49 that would create an exception allowing internal counsel who have not been admitted to the D.C. Bar to provide pro bono legal services.

The Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law made the recommendation to the court on September 19, 2013, stating that these changes would help address the need to increase access to justice in the District. The amendment would permit attorneys who are members in good standing of the highest court of a state or territory and are supervised by an active D.C. Bar member to perform pro bono work in the District. The work must be assigned or referred by an organization that provides pro bono legal services to the public.

Written comments regarding the proposed rule amendment are due by May 20. Ten copies should be sent to the Clerk, D.C. Court of Appeals, 430 E Street NW, Suite 209, Washington, DC 20001.

Read the full notice at http://bit.ly/1jZNnBN.—T.L.

Reach Kathryn Alfisi and Thai Phi Le at kalifisi@dcbar.org and tle@dcbar.org, respectively.