By Kathryn Alfisi and Thai Phi Le
D.C. Bar Elections Kick Off on April 30
The D.C. Bar annual elections will open on April 30 for positions on the Board of Governors for the 2013–2014 term, including three seats in the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association, one reserved for a candidate under the age of 35. 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, beginning on page 36. Candidate ballots and biographies can be viewed by active members on April 30 by logging in to vote online at www.dcbar.org/elections.
Ballots and instructions for voting, by mail or online, will be distributed to all eligible voters by April 30. Members have until May 24 to vote.
Results of the election will be announced on the Bar’s Web site and at the 2013 Celebration of Leadership, which includes the Bar’s Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting, on Tuesday, June 18, at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW.
TSA Chief Counsel Kerner Wins 2013 Rosenberg Award
The D.C. Bar has named Francine J. Kerner, chief counsel for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as the 2013 recipient of its Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Excellence in Government Service for her contributions to the legal profession and her dedication to public service.
The award will be presented at the Celebration of Leadership: The D.C. Bar Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting on June 18 at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW.
“I am honored to be included among a group of attorneys whose work has effectively advanced a wide range of important government programs and operations,” Kerner said. “It is a thrill and I am totally delighted; there’s such a great group of lawyers who have received this award, quite a few of whom I know.”
Recipients of the Rosenberg Award are honored for having 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.
According to Ivan Fong, former DHS general counsel, Kerner embodies the professional and personal qualities the Rosenberg Award seeks to honor.
“Even among the many supremely talented and dedicated attorneys at DHS and its components, Francine stands out for her selfless commitment to professional excellence and public service. Embarking on a remarkable career spanning almost four decades in the public sector, she overcame challenges most would not recognize today. She is tenacious and smart, has uncompromising integrity, and brings outstanding judgment to the most complex and difficult questions of law and legal policy. Perhaps more important, for the last decade she has built a first–class legal department at TSA and has served as a trailblazer, mentor, and role model for countless others,” Fong said.
Kerner began her career in 1974 as assistant district attorney at Kings County District Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, New York. In 1979 she went to work for the U.S. Department of Commerce, first as counsel to the inspector general and later as senior attorney. Kerner worked at the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 1992 to 2002 when she joined DHS as chief counsel for the then newly created TSA.
In its first year TSA went from zero employees to a workforce of more than 65,000. Kerner was responsible for providing and overseeing the legal and policy advice necessary for managing every aspect of this massive deployment, the largest mobilization of a civilian workforce since World War II.
She is a graduate of Queens College and New York University (NYU) School of Law. She is the recipient of several awards, including the TSA Federal Woman’s Program Trailblazer Award, the Presidential Meritorious Rank Award, and the Jack L. Kroner Medal for Service by the NYU School of Law.—K.A.
On March 4 the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs held its 13th Annual Cooking for Kids Bake Sale and Taste–Off to raise money to support enrichment activities for students at public schools in the District of Columbia. Pictured are the judges of this year’s entries: (from left) Aggie Chin and Frank Ruta of Palena, Alex Kramer of Dos Gringos Café, and David Dorsen, of counsel at Sedgwick LLP and former food and wine editor of Washingtonian magazine.—K.A.
DC Appleseed’s Walter Smith Wins 2013 Brennan Award
The D.C. Bar has named Walter A. Smith Jr., executive director of the DC Appleseed Center of Law and Justice, as the 2013 recipient of its William J. Brennan Jr. Award for his demonstrated excellence in and commitment to public interest law.
The award will be presented on June 18 at the Celebration of Leadership: The D.C. Bar Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting at the Grand Ballroom of the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW.
The Brennan Award was established in 1993 and is presented biannually (in alternating years with the Thurgood Marshall Award) to a D.C. Bar member who has demonstrated excellence, achievement, and commitment to civil rights and individual liberties.
Smith has served as executive director of DC Appleseed since 2001, managing teams of pro bono attorneys. The nonprofit organization works on a wide array of public policy issues in the District of Columbia, including health care, education, housing, voting rights, and the environment.
Prior to joining DC Appleseed, Smith served two years as special deputy corporation counsel for the District of Columbia, where he focused on special education programs. He was also a partner at Hogan & Hartson LLP (now Hogan Lovells) where he was full–time director of the firm’s pro bono practice. Smith also served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
Smith is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and Harvard Law School and holds a master of laws degree from The George Washington University Law School. He served as a law clerk to Judge Charles Clark of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.—K.A.
D.C. Bar Board of Governors Approves Dues Increase
The D.C. Bar Board of Governors has voted to approve an increase in members’ annual dues for fiscal year 2013–2014. The new dues amount increases from $255 to $265 for active members and from $127 to $130 for judicial members. Inactive member dues will remain at $130.
The changes were approved after a public hearing to hear member comments was held on April 9 at the Bar’s headquarters.
The deadline for paying dues is July 1. 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.—T.L.
D.C. Bar Foundation Awards $3.17M Access to Justice Grants
On March 28 the D.C. Bar Foundation awarded $3.17 million in publicly funded access to justice grants to 20 local civil legal services projects that target disadvantaged residents of the District of Columbia.
“All the projects continue the creativity and collaboration that have been the hallmark of this flagship grant program,” said Emilio W. Cividanes, president of the D.C. Bar Foundation. “The District’s Access to Justice funds have been absolutely critical in making access to justice a reality for some of the most vulnerable in our community.”
The projects cover a wide range of legal needs of the underprivileged community. They address domestic violence, fund an interpreter program, and assist clients in housing and child support cases, among many others. Each year the D.C. Council appropriates funds to support these critically needed legal services, and the D.C. Bar Foundation administers the grants.
One of the newly funded programs is Ayuda’s Project END, which is aimed at stopping fraudulent practices by notarios, or immigration consultants, who falsely offer legal services to immigrants, collect money, and then disappear without doing the work.
With the grant, Ayuda will hire an attorney who will bring civil cases against notarios advertising and practicing in the District and refer cases to the Federal Trade Commission, the D.C. Attorney General’s Office, and other law enforcement agencies. Ayuda also will conduct outreach with the immigrant community to encourage them to work with local law enforcement on cases against notarios.
D.C. Bar Leadership Academy Holds Second Training Session
The D.C. Bar Leadership Academy held its second training session on March 22 where participants learned about leadership styles, working with and leading teams, and how to participate in and lead effective meetings.
The session also included a luncheon panel discussion featuring former D.C. Bar presidents Robert J. Spagnoletti and Darrell G. Mottley, as well as Laura Possessky and Annamaria Steward, former and current members, respectively, of the Bar’s Board of Governors.
The panelists shared with the 16 Academy members what they have learned from their leadership experiences, from how to remain motivated to who to look to as guides and role models.
“Some people think you just show up knowing all this stuff or you intuit all of it and it’s just not the case,” Spagnoletti said.
Steward talked about her experiences serving in leadership positions both at the D.C. Bar and at voluntary bars. In addition to having served as secretary of the Bar’s Board of Governors, where she is currently a member, Steward also served as president of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia (BADC), among other roles at various voluntary bars. One thing that translated across her different leadership roles was that a leader needs to be both a manager and a visionary, Steward said.
Mottley is currently serving as immediate past president of the D.C. Bar. He has been a member of the board of directors of the BADC, a member of the Commercial Law Section of the National Bar Association, and a member of the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia.
To take a leadership position at the D.C. Bar or at a voluntary bar, Mottley said one should believe in the organization’s mission and the direction it is heading. Potential leaders should also ask themselves what they would be doing at the organization and what their position requires.
Possessky said serving on the Bar’s Board of Governors and subsequently becoming president of the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia had been a positive experience. “One of the reasons I decided to become president of the Women’s Bar … when the opportunity came up [was] because I feel very passionately about the issues,” she said. “I also saw tremendous growth opportunities for the association and I saw opportunities for my own growth as well.”
Possessky also talked about what it was like running for president of the D.C. Bar in 2010, a campaign that Mottley won. “I figured that I win if I win or I win if I lose,” she said. “It [was] an awesome leap, even with seven years on the Bar’s Board of Governors, to the presidency even in the campaigning process.”
Speakers Jill McCrory and Daniel Martinage of Leadership Outfitters facilitated the morning and afternoon programming.
To read more about the Academy, visit www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers/events/leadership_academy.cfm.—K.A.
D.C. Bar President–Elect Candidates Outline Leadership Plans at Forum
D.C. Bar president-elect candidates Brigida Benitez of Steptoe & Johnson LLP and Lorelie S. Masters of Jenner & Block LLP outlined their proposed leadership initiatives if elected into office during a candidates’ forum on April 10. The candidates each were given five minutes to present their plans before members of
With the flip of a coin, Masters was chosen to go first. She spoke about her leadership experience at the D.C. Bar, in the local community, at voluntary bars, international bar associations, and the American Bar Association (ABA). Throughout her career she has worked extensively on increasing diversity in the legal profession, including while serving as president of the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia. “I’d like to bring my experience to the D.C. Bar to address the challenges that our profession … faces today,” Masters said.
Masters’ top priorities would be access to justice, professional development and training for young lawyers, and creating an official history of the D.C. Bar. “It’s important to know the past in order to form the future,” she said.
Masters also would look to create more partnerships between legal services providers and law firms, outside and in–house counsel, and young and senior lawyers to boost participation in pro bono work. “If elected, I would really like to work closely with all of you to make sure we can take the Bar to the next level and to implement all objectives of the D.C. Bar’s strategic plan,” Masters said.
During her turn, Benitez began by talking about why she was seeking the office of president–elect. “I care about the D.C. Bar. It’s an organization that I believe in, whose mission I share … If you believe in an organization, you’ve got to be willing to roll up your sleeves, step up, and lead it if asked to do so,” Benitez said.
She said her work at the Bar on various levels—in committees, in sections, and on the Board of Governors—has given her various perspectives useful to leading the organization. Benitez also had the opportunity to learn from examples set by her mentors, former Bar presidents John Payton and John Pickering.
If elected, Benitez plans to focus on access to justice issues, addressing the impact of an increasingly global profession, and boosting professional development opportunities at all levels. “We need to get more people engaged and more different people engaged who haven’t been. The Bar is a resource. We need to figure out how it can better serve,” Benitez said, adding that technology is key to member engagement.
Candidates for D.C. Bar secretary, treasurer, and for seats on the Board of Governors, as well as on the ABA House of Delegates, also were introduced during the forum. Full elections coverage appears in this issue of Washington Lawyer.—T.L.
On March 14 nationally recognized estate planning expert Ronald D. Aucutt, a partner at McGuireWoods LLP, taught the D.C. Bar Continuing Legal Education Program’s “Estate Planning After the New Year’s Day Legislation” course. The course focused on estate and tax planning following the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act by Congress on January 1, including where the act leaves the 2012 surge of gift–giving, expected estate tax changes, and its impact on attorneys’ practices. The class was a hit among participants who praised Aucutt’s ability to combine both wit and wisdom to extensively cover complex topics.—T.L.
Board of Governors Approves 2013–2014 Budget
The D.C. Bar’s proposed 2013–2014 budget, as recommended by the Budget Committee, was approved by the Board of Governors at its April 9 meeting.
The budget calls for an increase in members’ annual dues from $255 to $265 for active members, from $127 to $130 for judicial members, while dues for inactive members would remain at $130. However, these approved dues increases are below the dues levels projected in the Bar’s 2008 dues ceiling recommendation that was approved by the D.C. Court of Appeals.
The expenditure budget for dues-funded activities is $24.1 million. Personnel expense makes up 61.4 percent of the budget; there is a 2.5 percent pool for staff salary increases and 0.5 percent for other salary adjustments. The budget also includes new staff positions to address the demonstrated needs for marketing efforts, event planning and staffing, litigation support, and outreach.
In fiscal year 2012–2013 the Office of Bar Counsel will move into expanded office space, a move that is expected to cost $1.3 million. This amount will be amortized over 10 years, resulting in an increase in annual operating expense of $130,000.
The budget will provide a surplus of $1,205,200 from dues–funded activities, which will allow the Bar to set aside $560,900 annually to meet future space needs when the current lease at 1101 K Street NW expires in May 2021. The remaining surplus of $644,300 will be set aside for the Bar to remain consistent with the plan to increase the dues–funded operating reserve to a minimum of three months of operating expenses.
The overall budgeted deficit for nondues programs in fiscal year 2013–14 is $285,400, which includes a $254,900 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 2013 issue of Washington Lawyer and on the Bar’s Web site at www.dcbar.org.—K.A.
Annual Youth Law Fair Addresses Bullying
Hundreds of students and their parents filled the hallways of the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse on March 9 for the 14th Annual Youth Law Fair.
The law fair, a joint effort of the D.C. Bar Litigation Section and the D.C. Superior Court, is a free, day-long educational event that brings students from schools in the Washington metropolitan area together with educators, attorneys, and judges 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, followed by attending a morning session that featured an interactive discussion of this year’s theme, “BullyProof!”
In his introductory remarks, D.C. Bar President and Covington & Burling LLP senior counsel Tom Williamson told participants it is important for young people to develop a better understanding of how the court system works. “The legal system touches the lives of the citizens of D.C. in all sorts of ways,” he said.
As he has done in previous years, Curtis Etherly, director of public affairs and communications at Coca–Cola Refreshments, led the speak–out session in which he presented students and parents with questions about bullying and urged them to voice their opinions and experiences.
The students further explored the issue of bullying during a mock trial that centered on the Youth Bullying Prevention Act that was signed into law by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray in June 2012.
Etherly also led an afternoon session where he was joined by Maureen Iselin and Vicki Johnson of the National Capital Area Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.—K.A.
D.C. Bar Lawyers’ Professional Liability Program Available in VA
The D.C. Bar Lawyers’ Professional Liability (LPL) Insurance Program is now available for Bar members practicing in Virginia.
The D.C. Bar first partnered with insurance plan administrator USI Affinity in 2012 to launch the LPL program and has had success in providing customized, affordable solutions to Bar members in Washington, D.C., and Maryland.
The new program in Virginia is supported by the strength of an A–rated insurance company, offers limits of up to $10 million, and features a host of coverage enhancements. It covers all sizes of law practice, from solo practitioners to large law firms.
USI Affinity is the insurance plan administrator for more than 500 associations nationwide, represents approximately 15 million members, and has more than 50 years of experience designing insurance programs for attorneys.For more information or to get a quote, D.C. Bar members may visit www.mybarinsurance.com/dcbar, call USI Affinity at 1-855-874-0100 PIN 711, or e–mail LPLcoverage@usiaffinity.com.—K.A.