Legal Beat: News and Notes on the D.C. Bar Legal Community
From Washington Lawyer, September 2009
By Kathryn Alfisi and Thai Phi Le
Former D.C. Bar President Lamm Takes Over as ABA President
Carolyn B. Lamm, a partner at White & Case LLP and former D.C. Bar president, was inducted as president of the American Bar Association (ABA) in August at its 2009 Annual Meeting, making her the first lawyer from the District of Columbia to lead the ABA since 1958.
Lamm said one of her primary goals in leading the ABA is to build membership across the legal profession, particularly among young lawyers. She also will focus on increasing diversity within the legal profession.
Lamm served as the D.C. Bar’s 26th president from 1997 to 1998. She has been active in the ABA for more than 25 years as a member of the House of Delegates from 1982 to 2005, and of the Board of Governors from 2002 to 2005. Lamm also served on numerous ABA committees and chaired its Young Lawyers Division.
In addition to her ABA work, Lamm also is a councilmember of the American Law Institute and a board member of the American Turkish Chamber of Commerce, American Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, and American Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce. At White & Case, Lamm concentrates on international arbitration, international trade matters, and international commercial litigation.
She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo and received her law degree from the University of Miami School of Law.
To recognize Lamm’s accomplishment of becoming the first ABA president from the District in half a century and the first female D.C. attorney to rise to the post, the D.C. Bar Board of Governors passed a resolution officially congratulating her.—K.A.
D.C. Bar Practice Manual 18th Edition Coming Soon
The 18th edition of The District of Columbia Practice Manual will be available this fall.
This two-volume manual is an important resource that, in an easy-to-use format, provides information on the basics of practicing law in the District of Columbia and includes citations to key statutes, regulations, court rules, and cases, as well as relevant forms.
The 18th edition includes 25 revised chapters covering a range of topics: administrative procedures, alternative dispute resolution, antitrust, appellate practice in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, art, child abuse and neglect, commercial law, consumer protection, corporate practice, criminal law and practice, criminal traffic offenses, domestic relations, employment law, environmental law, government contracts, Health Maintenance Organization Act, intervention proceedings, legal ethics and attorney discipline, mental health proceedings, partnerships, personal injury, taxation, United States District Court practice, wills and estates, and workers’ compensation.
D.C. Bar Seeks Nominations for 2010 Beatrice Rosenberg Award
The D.C. Bar is calling for nominations for the 2010 Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Excellence in Government Service.
The award is presented annually to a D.C. Bar member whose career exemplifies the highest order of public service. In keeping with the exceptional accomplishments of Ms. Rosenberg, nominees should have demonstrated outstanding professional judgment throughout long-term government careers, worked intentionally to share their expertise as mentors to younger government lawyers, and devoted significant personal energies to public or community service.
The Bar established the award in honor of Beatrice “Bea” Rosenberg who dedicated 35 years of her career to government service and performed with distinction at the U.S. Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She also served as a member of the Board on Professional Responsibility.
The 2010 presentation of the Rosenberg Award will be made on April 9 at the Judicial and Bar Conference’s keynote luncheon. In 2009 the award was presented to Catherine G. O’Sullivan, chief of the Appellate Section for the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Nominees must be members of the D.C. Bar and current or former employees of any local, state, or federal government agency.
Submissions must be received by October 30. Nominations may be submitted online at www.dcbar.org/who-we-are/rosenberg-award or in writing to Katherine A. Mazzaferri, Executive Director, District of Columbia Bar, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210.
For more information on the Beatrice Rosenberg Award, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.—K.A.
Rocking for a Cause
Members of the Dangerous Communication Device from Williams & Connolly LLP celebrate their victory at the “Banding Together 2009” battle of the law firm bands fundraiser at the Black Cat. Ten other bands featuring members of area law firms also participated. The annual event raises money for the Gifts for the Homeless, a legal organization-supported nonprofit that provides new and used clothing to the homeless in the District. This year’s event raised $86,662 and drew more than 1,000 attendees. Pictured (from left) are band members Philip Sechler, Kenneth Brown, Dave Gerkin, Thomas Ward, and Paul Hourihan; Walter Lohmann, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and “Banding Together” coordinator; and Daniel Buchner, an associate at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP.—K.A.
Legal System Atwitter With Possibilities for Social Media
Eight weeks into a federal drug case in Florida, a judge had to declare a mistrial. Why? Jurors were conducting their own amateur Google investigations on their cell phones. In another case, a consultant successfully removed a potential juror after discovering that he lied about knowing another possible juror. How? The man’s Facebook profile revealed they were cousins.
For several years, everyone has read—albeit mostly online—about how social media is drastically changing traditional print and broadcast media. Only recently has the discussion turned to its effects on the justice system.
Can lawyers and judges do what even spouses can’t do: detach people from their trusty BlackBerry devices and iPhones long enough to ensure a fair and impartial jury? Will the soaring popularity of blogging, commenting on news stories, and social networking sites such as Facebook change the legal system?
“We forget that we had e-mail and [American Online] and other ways for people to communicate with each other long before Facebook and Twitter came along. This is not really new,” said Dr. Richard Waites, one of the founders of the trial consulting firm The Advocates and a board-certified civil trial attorney. “What’s causing heartburn, however, is the new technology.”
“Modern technology makes it easier to find out about jurors, or for jurors, unfortunately, to find out about the case,” said Abbe Lowell, head of the white collar criminal defense practice group at McDermott Will & Emery LLP.
In the past, if attorneys wanted more information about potential jurors—and had both the time and money—they would look up voter registration, see if cars were adorned with any bumper stickers that might reveal certain opinions, or view criminal databases. Today, in the hands of an adept online searcher, the majority of that information can be found in just a few key strokes.
“It’s good if it’s not abused, and it’s understood as one of many tools,” Lowell said. “It doesn’t take the place of in-courtroom analysis, but it’s an important piece of data.”
Christine Martin, a senior consultant for trial consulting firm DecisionQuest, agrees. “Social media due diligence is becoming a necessity as attorneys prepare for trial. More than ever, people are sharing their opinions about a wider variety of current events, news stories, issues, and ideas.”
For virtually every case they work on, DecisionQuest uses what they dub “social media analysis.” Martin added, “It answers the question, ‘Who is saying what to whom and with what effect?’”
Their analysis played a key role in defending Orange County, California, Sheriff Mike Carona against federal corruption charges in United States v. Carona. While early news reports were negative, Martin and her team discovered through various social media outlets that more people supported the sheriff than expected. Able to use some of the opinions online to form their trial strategy, defense attorneys argued a case that was eventually decided largely in favor of Carona. He was convicted of only a single count of witness tampering and acquitted of charges of mail fraud, conspiracy, and another count of witness tampering.
Dennis Stolle, a partner at Barnes & Thornburg LLP and president of the trial consulting firm ThemeVision LLC, also has staff that scours the Internet for information and public opinion for almost all his cases. “It can be useful not only in a tactical manner in terms of having a better sense of who you are presenting the case to, but it could also provide insight into whether the jury was honest during the voir dire process.”
While he believes the inundation of information online would not affect jury selection in run-of-the-mill cases, Stolle said, it can shape jury selection and trial strategy for high-profile litigation. “In the past, there might be a 15-, 20-, 30-second news clip that would show on local television. When it was done, it would be gone forever. Now, the news clip will be posted to the Web page, where it can be viewed over and over again.”
One of his greatest concerns is the comment section below news stories accommodating numerous radical posts that some readers are unable to differentiate from fact. Added Stolle, “It becomes very difficult to screen during the jury selection process to ensure that you don’t have jurors who have already essentially reached a decision in their mind based perhaps on unreliable information gleaned from blogs and other sources.”
Not all types of practices, however, have the time and resources to conduct social media analysis and hire jury consultants, according to Stephen J. Gripkey, assistant U.S. attorney for the Department of Justice. “I don’t know if staffing levels would ever be the way prosecutors want them to be, period, even just to deal with the cases, let alone troll the Internet,” he said. “If you did a search for 20 hours, you might find nothing, but that 20-hour period is definitely time I want to use to prepare my witnesses for the next day and deal with the logistics for the trial.”
Gripkey also believes that more useful information can be discovered about a juror in person than online. “Seeing someone in real life, in three dimensions, seeing their demeanor in the courtroom when they’re under oath is really where most of your impact is going to be. I don’t think I’ll ever want to rely on stuff on the Web to formulate how I pick a jury.”
Benefit or not, some critics worry about the integrity of cases if more jurors decide to channel their inner Sherlock Holmes, only this time substituting the old-fashioned magnifying glass with a sleek tool that fits in their hand.
“There is a real concern among trial lawyers that the availability of information on the Internet provides average jurors with the ability to access information about a case that will not be presented into evidence,” Lowell said.
That concern is justified, Waites said. In jury selections that take more than one day, some potential candidates may research on Google and chat with their friends about the case. “I’ve seen it many, many times,” Waites said. “Their attitudes are already in place, but what happens is that they find out new information in a very sketchy, uncontrolled manner that may skew the way they look at a case early on, and I think first impressions of lawyers and cases are very powerful.”
Courts are now reacting to the pitfalls of social media and modern technology. In September, the Michigan Supreme Court issued a rule that banned jurors’ electronic devices both inside and outside of the courtroom to investigate a case, while the Indiana Judicial Conference’s jury committee is drafting similar policies.
The legal system also is responding to privacy issues that arise when trial attorneys use social media in jury selection. In March the Philadelphia Bar Association issued an ethics opinion stating that lawyers cannot use a third party to “friend” a witness or potential juror on MySpace or Facebook to gain access to that person’s page. Some judges, like those in the Virginia Beach Circuit Court, seal juror names before a trial. “It’s no longer, ‘Mr. Smith, can you tell me this or that? It is Juror 108, can you tell me this or that?” Stolle said.
While juror privacy must be respected, Lowell argues that it is the juror’s choice to reveal information about him- or herself online. “They are on Facebook. They are on blogs. They want to be out there in the public domain. The privacy issue is not as pronounced because the jurors put this information out there for others to see.”
Whether attorneys choose to post a negative comment about social media or click the “like” button, most agree that the legal system’s fundamentals will not significantly change, but the courts will have to adapt to it. Said Lowell, “Social media and access to the Internet is just the latest example of how technological advances create great opportunity and a variety of problems and a number of challenges”—T.S.
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 D.C. Judicial Nomination Commission (JNC), and 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 terms.
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 JNC as well as on the board of directors of the NLSP. The JNC has one vacancy to fill an unexpired term created as a result of an incumbent’s resignation. Candidates must have been engaged in the practice of law in the District of Columbia for at least five years. NLSP board 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
- Neighborhood Legal Services Program
- Practice Management Service
Members With Unpaid Dues, Fees May Lose Law License
D.C. Bar members who failed to pay their annual dues by August 17 were charged a $30 late fee. Members who fail to pay their Bar dues and/or late fee by September 30 will automatically 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, P.O. 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 email@example.com.
Members are encouraged to confirm all of their personal information on the dues statement, including e-mail addresses.
ABA Honors Women Trailblazers With 2009 Margaret Brent Award
The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Commission on Women in the Profession honored five women on August 2 with its prestigious 2009 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award for their outstanding work.
The honorees—Linda L. Addison, a partner at Fulbright & Jaworski L.L.P.; Helaine M. Barnett, president of Legal Services Corporation; Judge Arnette R. Hubbard of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Law Division; Associate Judge Vanessa Ruiz of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals; and Loretta A. Tuell, a founding partner at AndersonTuell LLP—were presented the award during the 2009 ABA Annual Meeting at The Fairmont Hotel in Chicago. Addison, Ruiz, and Tuell are members of the D.C. Bar.
“These highly distinguished women have been trailblazers throughout their careers, and they are inspirational role models for women throughout the legal profession, and indeed all women,” commission chair Bobbi Liebenberg said.
In the 1970s, Addison was one of only a few women hired to try cases in Texas, building her practice at a time when business clubs were closed to women. She is now considered one of the most influential lawyers in the nation, trying more than 50 cases to judgment as lead counsel.
Ruiz is among the first women to argue a case in the Supreme Court during the term of Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She successfully argued the case Havens Realty Corp. v. Coleman on a pro bono basis in 1982. Twelve years later, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the first Hispanic judge on the District’s highest court.
Even in second grade, living on an Indian reservation in Idaho, Tuell knew she was going to be a lawyer. In 2007 she helped established AndersonTuell, one of the first law firms in the District to have a Native American woman as founding partner. Tuell also led the development of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Tribal Consultation Policy, a key initiative for people living in Indian country.
In the spirit of the award, which was established in 1991 in honor of Margaret Brent, the first female lawyer in America, the ABA will celebrate the winners unlike any other year. Bringing in a cultural tradition from Tuell’s tribe, the awardees’ achievements also will be recognized with a rendition of the “Honor Song.”
“I know what this award stands for, the value of it, and when I found out that I had received it, joy went through me,” said Tuell, the first Native American woman to receive the award. Giving advice to up-and-coming lawyers, she said, “Find your mentors. Find the people in the world around you, in your community, at work, in school and take the best of what you see.” —T.S.
Judges Address Changes to CJA, Family Court Panels
The D.C. Bar Courts, Lawyers and the Administration of Justice Section—in association with the Criminal Law and Individual Rights Section, Family Law Section, and Litigation Section—held a luncheon program on July 10 to discuss the reestablishment of the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) and Family Court Panel of Attorneys and how lawyers can become or remain a member.
The Superior Court of the District of Columbia recently issued an administrative order reestablishing the panels and consolidating the United States and District of Columbia panels into a unified CJA panel. The order also establishes qualifications and continuing obligations for panel members and limits membership to four years without reapplication.
D.C. Superior Court Associate Judges Juliet McKenna and Robert Morin were on hand at the luncheon to explain what these changes mean for current and future panel members.
Morin, a member of the CJA Implementation Committee, said the CJA Panel will be reestablished by January 2010, and every four years thereafter. Among the changes brought by the administrative order will be the implementation of rolling admissions allowing attorneys to apply to, and be considered for, the panel at any time. Also, once on the panel, members must agree to represent traffic cases in addition to U.S. cases.
“No longer are you going to have this division of two different types of lawyers; you’re going to be a lawyer representing individuals in all cases that are appointed,” Morin said.
To qualify as a full member of the panel, an attorney must be judged competent to provide adequate representation in Felony II cases. There also will be provisional members who are appointed for a one–year term to represent misdemeanor cases, after which time they can apply to become full members. Then there is the conditional member option allowing attorneys who may not be able to pick up cases immediately a nine-month period before they are required to accept an appointment.
Following Judge Morin’s discussion, Judge McKenna, a member of the Panel Oversight Subcommittee of the Family Court Implementation Committee, addressed changes to the Family Court Panel.
She said the panel will be reestablished in 2010 to be in synch with the CJA Panel, and then again in 2012, after which time it will be reestablished every four years. New attorneys can be considered for the Family Court Panel for a one–year term, after which time an application can be submitted for full panel status.
Applications for both the CJA and Family Court Panels will be reviewed by Judge McKenna and Judge Morin’s respective committees, which have until December 1 to provide recommendations to D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield. Judge Satterfield will reestablish the panels by January 15.
All current panel members must reapply, and attorneys wanting to receive appointments from these panels also must apply. The deadline for applications is September 15. For detailed information on the panels and how to apply or reapply, visit the D.C. Superior Court’s Web site at www.dccourts.gov/
internet/superior/main.jsf and select the “Administrative Orders” link along the left-hand side.—K.A.
Fore! … A Good Cause
Mary Legg of Firm Advice, Inc. (center) presents trophies to the winning team of the 20th Annual D.C. Bar Golf Tournament comprised of (from left) Peter Hill of Billy Casper Golf, Jeff Beam of State Farm Insurance, attorney David L. Lowans, and Alex Elmore of Billy Casper Golf on June 15 at the Country Club of Fairfax. The tournament highlights the Member Benefits Program, which raises money for non-dues-funded Bar services such as the Pro Bono Program.—K.A.
Clients’ Security Fund Seeks to Fill Trustee Vacancy
The Clients’ Security Fund of the District of Columbia Bar will have a vacancy for a trustee in February 2010 and seeks candidates for this opening.
The fund reimburses clients for losses caused by the dishonest conduct of members of the Bar, and it represents a fundamental commitment by lawyers in the District to protect the integrity of the profession.
The fund is operated by five volunteer trustees appointed by the D.C. Court of Appeals to serve five-year terms. The trustees generally meet 10 times a year to review pending claims, discuss fund policies and procedures, review the financial operations and condition of the fund, and discuss methods to improve the claims process.
The deadline for submitting application materials is September 11. Bar members who wish to be considered should submit a résumé and cover letter to D.C. Bar, Executive Office, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210, or fax to 1-866-926-2585.
For more information about the Clients’ Security Fund, please visit www.dcbar.org/csf.
LEAP Reception Recognizes Pro Bono Work of Area Lawyers, Firms
On July 16 the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) recognized the achievements of law firms and lawyers working under its Lawyers Executive Advisory Partners (LEAP), a national alliance with the legal community to help eradicate homelessness in America.
The annual reception honors LEAP members that provide financial support and pro bono legal services in support of NLCHP’s mission. LEAP was formed in 2004 when NLCHP decided to strengthen its ties with its pro bono partners and as a way to recognize their contributions.
The reception, held at Goodwin Procter LLP, featured Associate Judge Noël Anketell Kramer of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals as keynote speaker. Kramer talked about the importance of lawyers providing pro bono services in the court system.
“I have a real soft spot for people who are willing to put down their paying work and come to the courthouse and try to help people…the truth of the matter is that these people deeply need the help that only a lawyer can give,” she said.
Kramer also commended the work of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program in running resource centers at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and its efforts to convince more lawyers to offer pro bono assistance. She acknowledged, however, that more work remains to be done, especially when it comes to the Landlord and Tenant Court and the Domestic Violence Court.
NLCHP Executive Director Maria Foscarinis also spoke at the reception, discussing the impact of the economic crisis on the District’s low-income residents.
“This is a particularly important time for us…more and more people are being pushed into homelessness…. This is really a crisis, and I think it’s a human rights crisis in this country,” Foscarinis said.
She thanked the members of the participating LEAP firms, saying, “Without the support of our pro bono partners, particularly our LEAP firms, we wouldn’t be able to accomplish what we accomplish.”
For more information on LEAP, contact the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty at 202-638-2535 or LEAP@nlchp.org.—K.A.
Attorney/Client Arbitration Board Welcomes Arbitrator Candidates
The D.C. Bar Attorney/Client Arbitration Board is seeking lawyer and nonlawyer volunteer arbitrators for its fee arbitration service.
The ACAB’s fee arbitration service provides a relatively informal, efficient, and confidential forum for Bar members and their clients to resolve disputes about legal fees. Candidates are screened and appointed by the ACAB Committee. Appointed arbitrators must be able to attend a half-day training session at the Bar before serving on cases.
The deadline for submitting application materials is September 11. Candidates should contact Kathleen E. Lewis at 202-737-4700, ext. 3238, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications, additional information about the ACAB, and qualifications for ACAB arbitrators are available at www.dcbar.org/acab. Submit applications and résumés by mail at D.C. Bar ACAB, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210; fax at 1-866-550-9330; or e-mail email@example.com.
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. The next course dates are September 12, October 6, November 7, and December 8. Advanced registration is encouraged.
For more information or to register online, visit www.dcbar.org/membership/mandatory-course.
FedEx Offers Bar Members Savings on Shipping, Office Services
New D.C. Bar member benefit provider FedEx is offering discounts on select shipping and office services, allowing Bar members to save money on their copying, printing, and binding needs, among others, at FedEx Office locations.
This new benefit program means that Bar members can save from 15 percent to 26 percent on select FedEx Express services and from 4 percent to 12 percent on select FedEx Ground services, as well as receive 20 percent off print and copy services and 10 percent off other FedEx Office services.
To access these shipping discounts, members must open a D.C. Bar-sponsored FedEx account or roll over an existing account. Members will then receive a FedEx Office discount card bearing their name and account number.
To enroll in the D.C. Bar FedEx shipping program, visit www.1800members.com/dcbar. For more information, call 1-800-636-2377 to speak to a dedicated member service representative.—K.A.
Study Shows Shrinking Job Market for 2008 Law Graduates
Reflecting the impact of the economic downturn on the legal sector, a recent study by the National Association for Law Placement, Inc. (NALP) showed that employment rates for law school graduates dropped for the first time since 2003.
In Jobs & JD’s: Employment and Salaries of New Law Graduates—Class of 2008, the NALP reported that employment rates for law school graduates whose employment status were known fell from the 20-year high 91.9 percent, recorded in 2007, to 89.9 percent in 2008.
The findings are based upon information on 40,582 graduates—or 93 percent of the class of 2008—supplied by 188 American Bar Association-accredited law schools. This is the 35th consecutive year the NALCP has documented employment statistics of law school graduates.
Among the study’s other findings: only 23 percent of new graduates were offered a starting salary of $160,000, while 34 percent came in with a salary of $55,000 or less; and 56.2 percent of new graduates went to work for a law firm, while 26.8 percent took jobs in the public service sector, including government jobs, judicial clerkships, and public interest positions.
For more information on this study or on NALP, visit www.nalp.org.—K.A.
Council for Court Excellence Releases Guide to Juvenile System
The Council for Court Excellence (CCE) has published the Guide to the DC Juvenile Justice System, the first of its kind to help the public understand how the system operates.
The guide, which appears in English and Spanish, discusses how a case moves from arrest to discharge, the government and nongovernment agencies involved and the roles they play, and the rights of victims of juvenile crimes.
Former D.C. Attorney General Robert J. Spagnoletti, who headed the committee that produced the guide, said nearly 3,400 youths were prosecuted in the District last year.
“The Office of the Attorney General prosecutes cases, but it really takes place in the family court; when you merge the family court world and the criminal world together and add in a bunch of social service agencies and programs that deal with juveniles, it creates a very complex system. For families that find themselves involved in the juvenile justice system in the District, it’s not an easy place to navigate … The goal was to put together a guide that would put together the answers to the questions people have about the system,” he said.
The guide came out of earlier efforts by the CCE to focus on the issue of juvenile justice, only to find out that almost no one could explain how the juvenile justice system actually works.
“I think that the basic premise of it is what brought everybody in the room,” said Vincent N. Schiraldi, director of the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.
“The system is just so confusing … It’s very disempowering to families, to young people, and to victims to not understand. [The guide] really shifts power from system players to community members by putting it in writing and telling them what’s going on,” he said.
Also present at the guide’s release were Judge William Jackson, presiding judge of the D.C. Superior Court’s family court; Robert Hildum, deputy attorney general for the Public Safety Division of the D.C. Attorney General’s Office; and Michael Satin, supervising attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.
To obtain copies of the guide, contact the Council for Court Excellence at 202-785-5917. The guide may also be downloaded at www.courtexcellence.org.—K.A.
Chief Judge Satterfield Discusses Issues Facing Superior Court
Lee F. Satterfield, chief judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, sat down with members of the D.C. Bar Courts, Lawyers and the Administration of Justice Section, Criminal Law and Individual Rights Section, D.C. Affairs Section, and Litigation Section to discuss developments at the Superior Court.
One topic of discussion was the court’s space shortage and the projects underway to address it.
All the projects are part of the D.C. Courts’ Judiciary Square master plan and include the recent renovation of the Old Courthouse and the D.C. Court of Appeals’ move to that building, and the acquisition of Building C. Satterfield said that there are also long-term plans to expand the C Street side of the Moultrie Courthouse.
Satterfield also talked about the renovation of the court’s juvenile cell block and the court’s continuing attempts to improve the landlord-tenant court.
“There is now an additional judge [Judge Cheryl Long] working in landlord-tenant court,” Satterfield said. “Judge Long spends 70 percent of her time in landlord-tenant court and the rest working in the Probate Division.” Satterfield said that the court intends to experiment with blended judge assignments such as this in an effort to maximize judges’ time. In addition to the extra judge, landlord-tenant court also has a permanent attorney assigned to it.
Assisting pro se litigants in and outside landlord-tenant court remains a focus of the court, Satterfield said. He pointed to the development of self-help resource centers (with help from the D.C. Bar) and the creation of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission as efforts that have already been taken and said that such work will continue.
Other issues Satterfield discussed include the court’s annual Law Day event, court finances, e-filing and remote access, performance measures related to disposition and trial date certainty, and changes for the Counsel for Child Abuse and Neglect (CCAN) Office and Criminal Justice Act (CJA) attorneys.—K.A.
U.S. Attorney General Holder Honored at BADC Luncheon
The Bar Association of the District of Columbia (BADC) honored United States Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. with its 2009 Constance L. Belfiore Quality of Life Award at its 138th Annual Meeting and Luncheon at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel.
The award recognizes employers, whether in a law firm, corporation, government agency, or association setting, who assist their lawyers in achieving a balanced professional and personal life. This is the 12th time the BADC has given the award.
BADC incoming president James G. Flood, who worked with Holder at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, presented the award and commented that the new attorney general has brought a new level of integrity to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Holder did not speak about DOJ, instead, focusing his speech on the need for attorneys to be involved in public service and to use their skills to assist the many people who are suffering in the current economic climate.
“As lawyers, our commitment to public service is more important now in this current economic crisis than it has been for quite some time,” he said.
“People need help, but they don’t just need a handout, they need a hand … what they need is a lawyer, a lawyer who has their best interest at heart and who has the skills and the judgment to get them through these tough times.”
Holder invoked President John F. Kennedy’s call for public service and Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s remarks on the great change an individual can make when he or she stands up to improve the lives of others.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that one person cannot make a difference in the lives of others…. Don’t let anyone tell you that public service is dead; I can assure you that it’s not,” Holder said. “Your help is desperately needed by the poor, sick, young, elderly, and economically downtrodden, and it is needed right now.”
The meeting and luncheon also featured the induction of BADC board members and officers by D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Eric T. Washington, reports from the BADC treasurer and foundation president, and remarks from outgoing BADC president Ralph P. Albrecht.—K.A.