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D.C. Bar Announces 2023 Annual Award Winners

April 24, 2023

By Jeremy Conrad

The District of Columbia Bar congratulates the winners of its 2023 Annual Awards honoring individuals and organizations whose outstanding work and exceptional projects benefited Bar membership, enriched the legal community, and expanded access to justice. The following awardees made important contributions to the advancement of public policy and provided critical assistance for the District’s vulnerable populations.

Frederick B. Abramson Award
D.C. Bar 50th Anniversary Campaign

The D.C. Bar’s 50th anniversary campaign was the product of cross-departmental efforts that included significant contributions from Programs, Marketing and Communications, and IT departments; the Executive Office; and the Pro Bono Center. The yearlong campaign was built around the themes of integrity, diversity and inclusion, global influence and innovation, leadership, community, and service.

Establishing a standard for future collaborative projects within the organization, the campaign conveyed the Bar’s mission, core purpose, and organizational values through the creation of an anniversary microsite, a timeline of the Bar’s history, a professionally executed “Setting the Gold Standard” promotional video, and a wide slate of programming to drive awareness and member engagement. Since the campaign, programming features such as advance check-ins and sponsorship opportunities have become staples in the production and execution of Bar signature events.

Community of the Year Award
Taxation Community

In 2022-23 the Taxation Community provided its members with a broad slate of programming, including 10 multipart series addressing a wide range of tax sub-specialty areas and a variety of standalone programs that informed and engaged members. The Community’s 2023 Tax Legislative and Regulatory Update drew a record-breaking 685 registrants, more than half of whom opted to attend in person. The conference has been the largest event held at the D.C. Bar headquarters since the onset of the pandemic, securing more than $48,000 in sponsorships.

Voluntary Bar Association of the Year Award
Federal Communications Bar Association

The Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA), known as the “tech bar,” has been the leading organization for communications lawyers and other professionals since its establishment in 1936. The FCBA provides exemplary service to its members and other legal, policy, and engineering professionals and students by presenting programming focused on technology, media, and telecommunications law.

The FCBA has a long history of establishing and supporting initiatives that promote the Washington, D.C., legal community through the FCBA Foundation. With funds raised at its annual dinner and charity auction, the foundation grants four-year college scholarships to high school seniors from area public and charter schools interested in pursuing a degree in communications-related fields. The foundation also provides summer work stipends and scholarships to law students.

The FCBA promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion in its membership and in the legal profession generally through programming such as its annual Women’s Summit Series.
Through its Diversity Pipeline Program, the FCBA attracts, develops, and supports diverse law students interested in pursuing careers in technology and communications law and policy, facilitating access to paid summer legal internship opportunities for law students from historically underrepresented and disadvantaged groups.

Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year Award
Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP, in collaboration with area nonprofit organizations, continued its longtime commitment to pro bono in 2022, providing a wide variety of legal assistance to persons of limited means. The firm contributed to efforts relating to access to justice, housing, juvenile justice, prisoner’s rights, immigration, and racial equity issues. Steptoe addressed community needs that were amplified and exacerbated by the pandemic, providing 39 associates to the Legal Aid Society’s domestic violence/family law unit and funding two housing law fellows. The firm also participated in a monthly walk-in clinic at Miriam’s Kitchen for the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless and litigated numerous eviction defense cases through its active participation in the Housing Right to Counsel Project.

Steptoe’s attorneys were among the first to participate in the DC Volunteer Lawyer Project’s remote TPO Clinic during the pandemic, representing survivors of domestic violence seeking temporary protective orders. Steptoe has also been involved in programs by the Legal Counsel for the Elderly, the Veterans Consortium, the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center’s Advocacy & Justice Clinic, the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, Ayuda, the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, and many others.

Laura N. Rinaldi Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award
Shelby A. Rampolo, Perkins Coie LLP

Perkins Coie associate Shelby A. Rampolo billed an impressive 196 hours of pro bono work in 2022, much of it benefiting the District’s immigrants, children, and the elderly. In the past year, Rampolo represented nine clients, including a senior citizen assaulted by police officers outside his home and individuals seeking asylum or special immigrant juvenile status after experiencing gang-related or gender-based violence. Her efforts in coordination with the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, the Tahirih Justice Center, and Catholic Charities have drawn praise from many. Just three years out of law school, Rampolo stands out for her significant contributions because they came in addition to the 1,675 hours she spent on her core practice of political law and commercial litigation.

The award winners will be honored at the D.C. Bar’s Celebration of Leadership on June 22. The Bar will also present its 2023 Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Excellence in Government Service to Patricia A. McKenna, assistant section chief with the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and its 2023 William J. Brennan Jr. Award for access to justice work to Jon S. Bouker, a partner and government relations practice co-leader at ArentFox Schiff LLP.

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