By Kathryn Alfisi and Thai Phi Le
On December 14 the Children’s Law Center held a gift wrapping party as part of its annual Holiday Hope Drive, which provides Christmas gifts for disadvantaged families in the District of Columbia. Pictured (from left) are Verizon attorneys Sarah Trosch, Elaine Critides, Chris Oatway, and Karan Singh.—K.A.
Board Sets Groundwork for Changes to Clients’ Security Fund
On November 13, the D.C. Bar Board of Governors approved changes to the Clients’ Security Fund that will, among other things, increase the cap on individual claim payments and set the Bar’s annual contribution to the fund at a fixed amount.
These changes, which will not go into effect until the next dues ceiling cycle, will balance the goal of financial stability and budget predictability for both the CSF and the Bar, with the CSF’s mission of providing reimbursement to claimants who are victimized by Bar members. The changes were recommended by the Clients’ Security Fund Study Committee.
The CSF, established in 1972 by the D.C. Court of Appeals, reimburses former clients of D.C. Bar members when an attorney has been found to have dishonestly retained a client’s money, property, or other thing of value. The CSF steps in when the client cannot be reimbursed from any other source.
The CSF’s trust is funded by an annual appropriation of Bar members’ dues. The fund is administered by five trustees who are Bar members and appointed by the court to serve five–year terms. The Study Committee was created in 2010 to review amendments to the CSF’s rules of procedure proposed by the trustees, and to make recommendations to the Board of Governors about the funding of the CSF and the method of paying claims.
With these changes, the limit on any individual claim payment would increase from $75,000, which has been the cap since 1990, to $100,000. The Board of Governors would review this limit as part of each dues ceiling cycle to consider whether any changes should be made.
Also, for the first time, the Bar’s annual contribution to the CSF would be set at a fixed–dollar amount, which will be determined in conjunction with the establishment of the dues ceiling cycle. It has been suggested that the contribution during the next dues ceiling period should be $250,000.
Another change to the CSF will result in its year–end balance floating within a range of $500,000 to $1.25 million, with a target range of $750,000 to $1 million. This range would be reviewed periodically to correspond to the dues ceiling cycle.—K.A.
Sections Seek Committee Candidates, Move Elections Online
The D.C. Bar’s 20 sections are seeking candidates interested in serving on section steering committees. Members wishing to be considered should submit a Candidate Interest Form and résumé to the Sections Office by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on February 7.
Additionally, for the first time, the 2013 section elections will be conducted primarily online. Paper ballots will be provided to section members who request them before April 15.
Each steering committee has either two or three positions available. Elections will be held in the spring of 2013, with results announced in mid–June. Steering committee terms run for three years, from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2016.
Section nominating committees will review all Candidate Interest Forms to select candidates who reflect the excellence and diversity of the Bar. Two to three candidates will be nominated for each position.
To access the Candidate Interest Form, view a list of vacancies, or request a paper ballot, visit www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers/sections/section_elections. For more information, e–mail the D.C. Bar Sections Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Georgetown Law Releases First International Migrants Bill of Rights
On December 18, International Migrants Day, a group of students, alumni, and scholars from Georgetown University Law Center released the International Migrants Bill of Rights (IMBR), the first–of–its–kind universal declaration of human rights for all categories of international migrants.
The IMBR calls for improved conditions for international migrants through recognition and advancement of their basic human rights. It also restates and reaffirms the core human rights derived from existing United Nations treaties.
“Migrants, regardless of immigration status and motive for migration, are individuals with basic human rights. All too often, countries that have committed to upholding human rights violate the rights of migrants on a vast scale. The IMBR seeks to protect migrants from the egregious human rights violations that are occurring all around the world,” said Bianca Santos, program director of the IMBR Initiative and a 2011 Georgetown Law graduate.
The IMBR Initiative was created in 2007 as a student-led project through Georgetown Law’s Global Law Scholars Program. It has grown through the collaborative effort of students and scholars from Georgetown Law, the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies at The American University in Cairo, the Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Migration Studies Unit at the London School of Economics. The IMBR Initiative is housed at Georgetown Law and at Georgetown’s Institute for the Study of International Migration.
For more information about the IMBR, visit www.law.georgetown.edu/academics/centers-institutes/isim/imbr.—K.A.
McKinney–Vento Awards Honor Leaders in Fight Against Homelessness
On November 15 the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty (NLCHP) celebrated its partners and supporters in its mission to end homelessness during the 14th annual McKinney–Vento Awards.
Approximately 200 guests were on hand at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel to honor the recipients of the NLCHP’s Stewart B. McKinney Award, Bruce F. Vento Award, Pro Bono Service Award, Pro Bono Assistance Award, and Personal Achievement Award.
The 2012 Pro Bono Service Award went to long–time NLCHP partner Covington & Burling LLP. The award was presented by D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.
“Each year, we give an award to a firm [that] has done really extraordinary pro bono work with us on behalf of homeless people. Covington really was the hands–down choice for this award,” said Maria Foscarinis, founder and executive director of the NLCHP. “We have a long–standing and very special relationship with Covington. Covington was the firm that worked with us from the very beginning, even before I founded the law center in 1989.”
Leading up to the establishment of the NLCHP, Covington partnered with Foscarinis to help enact the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which was signed into law in 1987. Since then, the firm has worked on numerous projects with the organization. In just the past year, Covington has dedicated a team of attorneys and offered resources to work on litigation regarding the use of vacant federal properties to serve and house homeless people.
“The firm has really had a major impact on national level policy addressing homelessness through this work,” Foscarinis said.
Food Network star Sandra Lee received the Stewart B. Kinney Award for her advocacy work to end childhood hunger and to create stability for homeless families. The Bruce F. Vento Award went to Rhode Island State Senator John Tassoni Jr., the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, and the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project, which advocated for the passage of the state’s Homeless Bill of Rights, the first of its kind in the United States.
Global consulting firm Navigant won the Pro Bono Assistance Award for the company’s work to protect the rights of homeless service providers.
Danae Vachata, founder and president of the Bell Fund, accepted the Personal Achievement Award and spoke about her own struggles with homelessness and her journey to create the Bell Fund, whose mission is to make post–secondary education more accessible to homeless and at–risk youths.
“The honorees painted a picture of how important legal advocacy is to addressing the major social problem of homelessness,” Foscarinis said.—T.L.
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. Upcoming 2013 dates are February 5, March 9, April 2, May 11, and June 4. Advanced registration is encouraged.
For more information or to register online, visit www.dcbar.org/mandatorycourse.
Washington College of Law’s 2013 Founders’ Celebration Under Way
For five months each year, American University Washington College of Law (WCL) holds its Founders’ Celebration to inspire and engage the legal community with provoking seminars, forums, and discussions about relevant issues facing the industry. The 2013 celebration kicked off on January 16 and will run until May 28.
Created in honor of WCL founders Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett, this year’s celebration began with a birthday commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. The event, the first of more than 87 throughout the next four months, featured WCL associate professor Cynthia E. Jones as keynote speaker.
The expert panels started on January 17 with “Transparency in the Obama Administration—A Fourth–Year Assessment,” a discussion about the current administration’s struggle to keep its campaign promise of greater government transparency.
Other seminars will feature conversations about international human rights issues, voting rights, environmental law, juvenile justice, immigration, life after a law degree, health law, national security law, and technology, among many others.
All are invited to attend the events. Many of the programs offered may go toward Continuing Legal Education credits.
In 2012 the Founders’ Celebration attracted more than 7,000 attendees, nearly 650 speakers, and representatives from more than 1,000 diverse organizations, from governmental departments to international organizations to law firms and embassies.
Mussey and Gillett established the WCL in 1896, earning the distinction of being the first law school in the nation founded by women. The Founders’ Celebration hails ideas and innovation to improve the world through the law, and hopes to encourage conversation and create opportunities to shape the legal issues facing the world today.
For more information, visit www.wcl.american.edu
D.C. Practice Manual, 2012 Edition, Is Available for Purchase
The D.C. Bar and its sections have released the District of Columbia Practice Manual, 2012 Edition, a two–volume, soft–cover guide covering the basics of law in the District of Columbia.
Produced with the assistance of Thomson Reuters, this easy–to–use format brings together the collective knowledge of hundreds of experienced practitioners in 33 chapters.
A must–have resource and the starting point for every D.C. practitioner, the new manual has an introductory chapter on Finding the Law in the District of Columbia, followed by specific chapters covering Administrative Procedure, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Antitrust, Appellate Practice in the D.C. Court of Appeals, Art Law, 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, Human Rights, Intervention Proceedings, Juvenile Law and Practice, Landlord and Tenant Practice, Legal Ethics and Lawyer Discipline, Mental Health Proceedings, Partnerships, Personal Injury, Real Property, Small Claims, Superior Court Civil Practice, Taxation, U.S. District Court Civil Practice, Wills and Estates, Workers’ Compensation, and Zoning and Historic Preservation.
The title is available for $300 and may be ordered from the D.C. Bar Member Services Center, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210. Credit card orders may be placed by secure fax to 202-942-9752. Individuals purchasing the new edition automatically qualify for subscription pricing discounts on subsequent editions.
For more information about the title, contact the D.C. Bar Communications Office at email@example.com.
Justice Breyer Among Legal Scholars Discussing Internationalization
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer and Mireille Delmas–Marty, a professor emeritus at the Collège de France, participated in the Brookings Institution’s Ninth Annual Raymond Aron Lecture on December 18, themed “The Internationalization of Law.”
Delmas–Marty’s teachings and research work focuses on comparative legal studies and the internationalization of law. She is the creator of the Association de Recherches Pénales Internationales, whose objective, she said, is “to understand by means of concrete situations the dynamic process of interaction between national and foreign law, between national and international law.” However, she noted that the landscape of international law has become increasingly complex and unclear in the seven years since the association was founded.
During her presentation, Delmas–Marty touched on how national bodies of law are being reshaped by transnational forces such as universal human rights and economic integration, and the challenges this presents. “The Internationalization of law is still evolving, improving, and we should be patient … Patient, but not passive,” she said.
Using the image of clouds in the sky on a windy day to capture the constantly changing international legal landscape, Delmas–Marty went on to focus on three main challenges: accountability, legitimacy, and predictability. She offered that the 2008 Supreme Court case Medellin v. Texas serves as an example of how unclear it is to know whether or not treaty provisions are self–executing or automatically binding on states.
“The Supreme Court has previously found many self–executing provisions that involve, for example, property rights, contract and commercial rights, taxation, and so on. But in Medellin, where the conditions for applying the death penalty to foreigners were at issue, the majority of the Court considered the United Nations treaty obligation to comply with the International Court of Justice judgment was not self–executing,” she said.
Delmas–Marty went on to talk about the International Criminal Court and signs of its growing credibility.
Breyer followed with his own remarks about how the internationalization of law affects his job as Supreme Court justice. “What is going on is very interesting. What you’re going to see is that it’s a work in progress. Mireille is looking at the legal world and what she sees are the clouds that she’s above and asks ‘what are the patterns?’ And anyone who thinks it’s just a pattern of 200 sovereign nations, each applying its law to the people within its territory, has somehow been asleep because that isn’t what’s going on,” Breyer said.
Breyer went on to say that his view of this is not from the clouds but from the trenches where his job as a Supreme Court justice has changed significantly in the nearly two decades he has been on the Court.
He went on to give examples of the challenges presented to the Court by an increasingly international legal landscape. “Worrying about the relation of the 30,000 (international organizations with the power to make law) and whether their laws are going to be enforced and exactly how in the United States, worrying about the security liberty balance, worrying about the content of some of the rights, and that’s the world I live in,” he said.
Also on the panel were Vivian Curran, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and Brookings senior fellow Benjamin Wittes who served as moderator.
To watch a video, hear an audio recording, or read a transcript of this Brookings event, visit http://www.brookings.edu/events.—K.A.
Naval Academy’s First Paraplegic Grad Pursues Dreams in Law School
In April 2011, Kevin Hillery, then a junior at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, set out with three friends for an adventure race in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Dark clouds hung over the trees, but the group had a full day ahead of mountain biking, kayaking, running, and orienteering.
For Hillery, this was one of about five adventure races he had already completed with his buddies, something they did just for fun. He remembers taking off on his bike, but from there his memories are blank.
“I was told that this tree just fell on me and got me right at the perfect time. It hit me on the head and cracked my helmet. It went over the back tire, stopped the bike, and sent me flying. I was in pretty rough shape,” Hillery said.
As the rain poured down, his three friends put together bikes and blankets to keep him dry, making sure not to move him. “It was a big state park. No one else was around, and we were also a little lost. I can’t imagine how they were feeling,” Hillery said.
They noticed a house in the distance. As one friend ran to get help, the others stayed close by to care for Hillery.
Help came, but Hillery was paralyzed from the waist down. In seconds, his dreams of becoming a Navy Seal had ended.
Keep on Moving
Hillery grew up in Medway, Massachusetts, a small suburb of Boston. In high school he began reading books about the military, in particular the Navy Seals. “I was really interested in the culture. I was really attracted to the challenge and wanted to be part of a brotherhood like that,” he said.
The Naval Academy seemed like a perfect fit, and he enrolled in the fall of 2008.
Before the accident, Hillery was well on his way to graduating with a degree in economics and getting commissioned as an officer. But as he lay in bed at the University of Virginia Hospital, the goals he had set and worked toward were moving out of reach.
“I was stuck in bed and couldn’t do anything,” he recalled. He just had surgery to fuse his spine back together. He had months of rehab ahead of him.
“I probably could have let myself get upset if I dwelled on that too much, but it was easy to just focus on a goal. Right [after the accident] happened, it was like, I might not be able to get back to the Naval Academy. Let’s take care of that right now.”
In between rehab sessions, he started making phone calls to the academy and the judge advocate generals (JAGs). Over the weeks, Hillery’s mind bounced back and forth between school and his recovery. Would the Naval Academy let him back in? How would he adjust to using a wheelchair all the time? With his injuries, could he become a Navy officer? What does he need to do to learn to get dressed alone again? Would he graduate alongside his classmates? How much more would he have to push his body to live a normal and independent life?
“Throughout the whole time, goals just shifted. I came to terms with it that I was never going to be a Seal. I’ll still do everything I can to serve my country,” he said.
When he got word that the Naval Academy would allow him to continue taking classes, Hillery was excited. He was finishing his rehab at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta and would return for the spring semester of his senior year.
A Graduation to Remember
Upon his return to Annapolis, Hillery’s room was equipped for a wheelchair, and he started moving at full speed. He finished up his coursework. He spoke with JAG attorneys and friends about the potential opportunities he could now pursue. Could he be commissioned as an officer and work in another community? Intelligence sounded appealing. His discussion with the JAGs proved that the chances were unlikely.
“I had to find something else that I wanted,” he said. That “something else” became a law degree.
The semester was a whirlwind, but as Hillery prepared for graduation, he put in applications to law schools, including Georgetown University Law Center. In May 2012, through hard work and determination, 22–year–old Hillery became the Naval Academy’s first paraplegic graduate.
Before his graduating class of nearly 1,100 and U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, the ceremony’s keynote speaker, Hillery wheeled up to the stage to receive his diploma. Adding his own flare, Hillery tossed the front of his wheelchair in the air as he exited the stage.
“Graduation was just amazing. It was a huge celebration all week,” Hillery said. “All my family was there. It was almost kind of a blur.”
To the Halls of Georgetown
For Hillery, the excitement of graduation led right into the thrill of his acceptance to Georgetown Law. In the fall 2012, Hillery began his first semester.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but was excited to start the adventure,” he said.
In addition to the classwork, Hillery went looking for volunteer opportunities through Georgetown Law’s pro bono program, seeking ways to serve the Washington, D.C., community. Every Friday of the semester, he spent a few hours at the Advocates for Justice and Education working on legal research and drafting memos.
Hillery’s perseverance was recognized in December when he was named one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30,” the magazine’s annual listing of some of the great current young innovators.
“I definitely want to do something [in the] public sector, something with the government,” said Hillery. “I feel like I had this education at the Naval Academy and this desire to serve in the Navy for so long, and I didn’t get to do that. I really want to serve my country in a different way.”—T.L.