Washington Lawyer

Legal Beat

From Washington Lawyer, February 2016

By David O'Boyle and Jeffery Leon

D.C. Bar, Fastcase Unveil New Member-Exclusive Content

The D.C. Bar's partnership with Fastcase continues to get even better. Active and judicial Bar members now have exclusive access to substantive, practical content not available to other Fastcase users. Content includes:

  • D.C. Court of Appeals Rules 
  • D.C. Superior Court Rules
  • Rules of Practice and Procedure (D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings—OAH—Rules and Laws) 
  • Code of Ethics for OAH Administrative Law Judges
  • Formal opinions issued by the D.C. corporation counsel and D.C. attorney general since 1982 
  •  D.C. Court of Appeals forms 
  • OAH forms 
  • Disciplinary system recommendations and actions 
  • D.C. Bar Ethics Opinions 210–369 The content update also includes access to the D.C. Municipal Regulations, which is available to all Fastcase subscribers.
     These additions are a direct result of the Bar's expanded partnership with Fastcase in August 2015, providing active and judicial Bar members a full nationwide subscription to Fastcase while keeping the cost the same: free.
     To access these resources and start your search: 
  • Visit the Bar's Web site at www.dcbar.org. 
  • Log in to your dcbar.org account using the Fastcase logo at the bottom of the page.
  • Use the "Search" drop-down menu to reveal the new content categories. 

For login inquiries, e-mail member benefits@dcbar.org. For Fastcase-specific questions, e-mail support@fastcase.com or call 866-773-2782. 

If you are an inactive member of the Bar and want these new Fastcase benefits, call the D.C. Bar Member Service Center at 202-626-3475 to upgrade your member status and gain access to the full nationwide Fastcase library in addition to the D.C. Bar-only expanded content. 

Fastcase is a D.C.-based company that combines industry-leading legal research technology with remarkable customer service. Members can even sync their work on their desktop and the Fastcase app by using their Mobile Sync feature.

Learn more about other D.C. Bar member benefits, including deals with Clio and Avis, by visiting www.dcbar.org, keywords: Member Benefits.   

BADC Honors Women in the Law, Low Bono Firm at Annual Banquet 

BADC President Nancy Nunan with the honorees at the 144th BADC Annual Banquet: D.C. Superior Court Judge Diane M. Brenneman, D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Lisa Blatt, and Lisa Manning.  On December 5 the Bar Association of the District of Columbia (BADC) held its Annual Banquet where it celebrated and recognized outstanding women in the law. 

Now in its 144th year, the black-tie event was held at The Capital Hilton with a cocktail reception, dinner, and an awards ceremony attended by more than 160 people. Four of its honorees this year were women. 

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton was honored with the Annice M. Wagner Pioneer Award for her extraordinary contributions to the community and public service. D.C. Superior Court Judge Diane M. Brenneman was named Judge of the Year; Lisa Blatt, a partner at Arnold & Porter LLP, as Lawyer of the Year; and Lisa Manning, counsel at Schertler & Onorato LLP, as Young Lawyer of the Year. 

This year the BADC also introduced a sixth award: the Suzanne Richards Award, named for the organization's first female president and given annually to a D.C. nonprofit. The recently launched D.C. Affordable Law Firm (DCALF), a low bono law firm providing high-quality legal services to residents who do not qualify for free legal aid, received the inaugural award, along with a $10,000 grant. 

"Suzanne was a trailblazer for women in the profession," said Keith W. Watters, president of the BADC Foundation. "She cared a lot about access to justice, so it is fitting that the D.C. Affordable Law Firm receive this award." 

DCALF is a joint venture between Georgetown University Law Center, Arent Fox LLP, and DLA Piper LLP.—D.O. and J.L.  

Rosenberg, Marshall Awards Nomination Period Ends Feb. 1 

The D.C. Bar is calling for nominations for its 2016 Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Excellence in Government Service and its 2016 Thurgood Marshall Award for excellence, commitment, and dedication in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, and the public interest. The deadline for submissions is February 1. 

The Rosenberg Award is presented annually to a D.C. Bar member whose career exemplifies the highest order of public 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 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She also served as a member of the Board on Professional Responsibility. 

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. Nominees must be current or former employees of any local, state, or federal government agency. 

The Thurgood Marshall Award recognizes a member of the D.C. Bar who has shown extraordinary commitment and initiative in pursuing equal justice and opportunity for all Americans. The award was established in 1993 and is presented in alternating years as the William J. Brennan Jr. Award. 

The D.C. Bar seeks a strong candidate who has demonstrated exceptional achievement in the pursuit of equal justice and who has made a significant, positive impact on the quality or administration of justice. 

When submitting a nomination for either the 2016 Rosenberg Award or the Marshall Award, please include a copy of the nominee's résumé and the nomination form. Nominations may be submitted in one of the following ways: (1) online through the Bar's Web site at www.dcbar.org/awards; (2) by e-mail attachment to rosenbergaward@dcbar.org or marshallaward@dcbar.org, respectively; or (3) in hard copy to Katherine A. Mazzaferri, Chief Executive Officer, District of Columbia Bar, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005. Electronic submissions are encouraged.

Both awards will be presented at the Celebration of Leadership: The D.C. Bar Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting on June 15. 

Additional information for both awards, including nomination forms and a list of past award winners, can be found at www.dcbar.org/awards

Bar Seeks Nominations for Annual Awards at Celebration of Leadership

The D.C. Bar is seeking nominations for outstanding projects and contributions by Bar members, which are among the honors to be presented at the 2016 Celebration of Leadership: The D.C. Bar Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting. The deadline for submissions is March 25. 

Bar members are encouraged to submit nominations for the following: Bar Project of the Year/Frederick B. Abramson Award, Section of the Year, Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year Award, and Laura N. Rinaldi Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year. 

Nominations may be submitted in one of the following ways: (1) online at www.dcbar.org/awards; (2) by e-mail to annualawards@dcbar.org; or (3) by mail to Katherine A. Mazzaferri, Chief Executive Officer, District of Columbia Bar, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210. Electronic submissions are encouraged. 

The winners will be honored on June 15 at the Bar's Celebration of Leadership at the Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW. The Bar also will present its Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Excellence in Government Service and its Thurgood Marshall Award for excellence in the pursuit of equal justice and opportunity for all Americans. 

Court Approves Change to D.C. Bar Dues Ceiling 

On December 22 the District of Columbia Court of Appeals approved a new dues ceiling, or maximum authorized dues rate level, for the D.C. Bar as recommended by the Bar's Board of Governors. 

The D.C. Bar dues level has consistently been among the lowest in the country for a bar of its size, ranking in the bottom 20 percent of all unified bars, according to a recent American Bar Association report. The Bar's operations include comprehensive programs to support professional competence, professionalism, and ethical conduct;an attorney discipline system;and a Clients' Security Fund. 

In a petition filed on June 30, 2015, the Board recommended the new dues ceiling to fund the Bar's projected operating expenses for at least the next five fiscal years. The new ceiling amount of $380 was suggested by the Board's Dues Ceiling Rate Authorization Committee, which studied the Bar's current and projected finances to determine the funding needed for the Bar's continued operations through mid-2020. 

The court approved the Board's proposal to raise the Bar's ceiling on annual membership dues from $285 to $380, effective July 1, 2016, until further order by the court. 

The new ceiling does not represent the actual dues rate assessed to Bar members but rather a maximum. The dues rate is set annually by the Board after an extensive budget review process.—J.L.  

Superior Court Judges Honored at Family Law Section Event 

Judge Jose Lopez, presiding judge of the D.C. Superior Court's Domestic Violence Unit, with Janese Bechtol, chief of the Domestic Violence Section of the D.C. Office of the Attorney General.On December 15 the Family Law Section of the D.C. Bar honored several judges from the D.C. Superior Court's family court during the section's annual holiday party at Rosa Mexicano in downtown Washington. 

The event was attended by nearly 80 people, bringing together legal professionals from the family law field. The section honored six judges who recently left the family court: Judges Danya Dayson, Jennifer DiToro, Florence Pan, Maribeth Raffinan, Robert Rigsby, and Judith Smith. The judges received commendations for their service on the family court and in the Washington legal community. 

Judges Hiram Puig-Lugo and Carol Ann Dalton, presiding judge and deputy presiding judge, respectively, of the family court, thanked the outgoing judges for their work and welcomed the new Domestic Relations Branch judges, who assumed their calendars in January. 

The section leadership also presented a special honor to Judge José López for his decade-long commitment to the D.C. Superior Court's Domestic Violence Unit, most recently as its presiding judge.—J.L. 

Sections' Probate Law Digest Available for Download 

After five years in the making, the District of Columbia Estates, Trusts and Probate Law Digest is available for download. This one-of-a-kind resource contains 35 years of significant published and unpublished probate decisions of the D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Court of Appeals, all in one comprehensive publication. Readers will have access to 896 digests and 537 previously unpublished cases between 1976 and 2012.

The price is $300 for D.C. Bar members and $500 for nonmembers. Members of the Bar's Estates, Trusts and Probate Law Section or contributors to the Digest can receive a discount code by e-mailing their full name and Bar number to sections@dcbar.org

For more information or to download the Digest, visit the D.C. Bar Marketplace at www.dcbar.org/marketplace

In Rise of Ridesharing Economy, a Clash of Old and New Options

In 2011 the ridesharing company Uber Technologies, Inc. arrived in the District of Columbia, offering black car service similar to traditional limousine service and disrupting the local taxicab industry in a major way. As more unregulated ridesharing businesses started offering low-cost transportation, the District's highly regulated taxicab industry began to cry foul as the demand for its services dwindled. 

On December 15 the D.C. Bar Antitrust and Consumer Law Section hosted the panel discussion "Taxis and Ridesharing at the Crossroads—What Are the Rules of the Road in D.C.?" to explore the issues and challenges, including regulation, involving the rise of alternative transportation options. 

Some regulations have been imposed on ridesharing companies in the four years since Uber rolled into the District, but many in the taxicab industry have criticized the unequal requirements and uneven playing field in the vehicle-for-hire transportation market. 

In 2012 the D.C. Council passed the Taxicab Service Improvement Amendment Act, setting the framework for the modern taxicab business. It required in-car credit card readers, wheelchair accessibility, and standardized "cruising lights" and color schemes. Additional regulations established age limits for vehicles used as taxis and required taxicab operators to share trip data with the D.C. Taxicab Commission (DCTC). Under the current regulatory framework, ridesharing companies are not required to share any trip data with DCTC. 

Roy D. Spooner, general manager of Yellow Cab Company of D.C., said these regulations require any taxicab driver to spend approximately $2,200 just to start driving in the District. 

While the new regulations were well intentioned, many in the taxicab industry believe they were ill timed. Within a year, Uber launched its lower-cost alternative UberX, and Lyft started operating in the District. These ridesharing companies entered the market with no regulations and with low barriers to entry for drivers. 

Spooner said the taxicab industry cannot compete with Uber, Lyft, and others because of the disparity in regulations imposed between taxicabs and ridesharing companies.

"We need fair and practical regulations. We want to innovate and move into the spaces that Uber has, like black car service, sedan service, food delivery," Spooner said. "We should be able to do that." 

Greg McCurdy, senior policy counsel at Uber, said the company wants to be regulated, but in the right way. The business model of ridesharing companies is different from that of the traditional taxicab, as most of the drivers drive part-time and are considered "independent contractors" with limited legal ties to the company. 

In the District, more than 50 percent of Uber drivers drive fewer than 10 hours each week. This part-time nature means that ridesharing companies have low barriers to entry for drivers to make their work worthwhile. 

"Most of these people are parents, they're students, they're retirees, they have other jobs," McCurdy said. "This is income that they make to supplement other things that they are doing."

DCTC Chair Ernest Chrappah said the vehicle-for-hire industry has exploded in the District, causing the transportation market to split in many different ways, benefitting a larger pool of drivers and lessening the returns for veterans in the taxicab business. 

The distribution of the transportation market is DCTC's main concern. In particular, Chrappah has to ensure that cab drivers are able to make a living and that taxicab companies that have made significant investments in the local transportation industry are protected. 

"We have to be concerned about whether drivers are working longer hours for less money, whether they are dealing with unsafe conditions," said Chrappah. "How do you ensure that, as we encourage innovation, we don't destroy the companies that have made a significant investment in where we are today?" 

William F. Adkinson Jr., attorney advisor in the Office of Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission, also participated in the panel, offering his insight on the "sharing economy" that ridesharing companies operate in.—D.O. 

Bar Invites Members to Take on Leadership Roles 

The D.C. Bar Board of Governors is seeking candidates to serve on various boards and committees. 

The Bar is accepting applications from D.C. Bar members interested in serving on the D.C. Bar Foundation's board of directors. Consideration will be given to individuals who have experience with or knowledge of fundraising, finance, and the D.C. community and its legal services providers. Applications are due by February 10. 

Additionally, the Bar is seeking candidates for appointment this spring to the Attorney/Client Arbitration Board, Judicial Evaluation Committee, Legal Ethics Committee, Clients' Security Fund, and the Board on Professional Responsibility (BPR) of the D.C. Court of Appeals. The deadline to apply for these vacancies is March 11. 

Applicants for attorney vacancies must be members of the D.C. Bar. For openings on the BPR, three individuals will be selected for each vacancy and their names will be forwarded to the D.C. Court of Appeals for final appointment. Preference is given to individuals with experience on BPR hearing committees.

Bar members interested in being considered for BPR hearing committee vacancies that arise periodically should send a letter of interest and résumé to the Board on Professional Responsibility, 430 E Street NW, Suite 138, Washington, DC 20001. 

To apply for a board or committee opening, please submit a résumé and cover letter stating the committee(s) or board(s) on which you would like to serve and a description of relevant work or volunteer experience. Applications that do not include the requisite cover letter with a description of relevant experience will not be considered. 

Leadership experience with other D.C. Bar committees, voluntary bar associations, or the Bar's sections is highly desirable. Descriptions of the committees and links to the D.C. Bar Foundation and BPR Web sites are available at www.dcbar.org/about-the-bar/committees.cfm

Applicants should submit materials by mail to the D.C. Bar Executive Office, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210, or by e-mail to executive.office@dcbar.org.  

Bar's Sections Invite Candidates to Join 2016 Steering Committees 

The D.C. Bar Sections Office is seeking members interested in steering committee positions for all of the Bar's sections. Members wishing to be considered should submit a Candidate Interest Form and résumé to the Sections Office by 5 p.m. eastern time on Thursday, February 4. 

All section members have been notified by e-mail about the availability of Candidate Interest Forms, which can be found online by going to www.dcbar.org/sections and clicking on the "Elections" option. 

Nearly all steering committee vacancies are for three-year terms. Each section has either two or three available positions. A list of vacancies is available online. 

The sections' nominating committees will review all Candidate Interest Forms to find the best qualified, diverse candidates. Two to three candidates will be nominated for each position. Previous leadership experience with voluntary bar associations or with the Bar's sections is highly desirable. The elections will take place in the spring of 2016, and the results will be announced in June. The winning candidates will assume their new steering committee roles on July 1.  

WCL Announces 2015 Honorees for Outstanding Pro Bono Work

On December 9 the Washington Council of Lawyers (WCL) held its annual awards ceremony celebrating the exceptional pro bono and public interest work of several members of the District of Columbia legal community. 

The WCL honored Roderic V. O. Boggs, executive director of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs; Kathryn E. Legomsky, an attorney in the General Counsel's Office at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development;Rebecca Lindhurst, managing attorney at Bread for the City; Jennifer Tschirch, pro bono coordinator at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law; and the firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

In his opening remarks, Paul S. Lee, pro bono manager at Dechert LLP and WCL president, said it's important to recognize the achievements of not only the award winners, but of all lawyers who engage in pro bono and public interest work. 

"As public interest lawyers, we have a hard time recognizing ourselves," Lee said. "We are taught to be humble and we are taught to serve those who are in need where we can make the most impact. We don't necessarily like to take the time to pat our own backs." 

The WCL presented its Presidents' Award for Public Service to Boggs for his influence on civil rights and access to justice. As a founding member of the WCL, the District's only public interest bar association, and through his work at the Washington Lawyers' Committee, Boggs has spent much of his career establishing and strengthening the D.C. public interest community. 

"There is hardly an aspect of our lives as residents of this community that Rod has not touched by his herculean efforts to promote equal access to justice and equal opportunity under law," said Steven P. Hollman, a partner at Hogan Lovells and a member of the WCL board of directors, during the ceremony held at Arnold & Porter LLP. "He has been a bottomless well of empathy, unable to abide watching in silence while another was made to suffer an indignity or deprivation of rights when he had the means to stop it." 

Legomsky received the Government Pro Bono Award in recognition of her volunteer work for the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, Bread for the City, and the Family Court Self-Help Center at the D.C. Superior Court.

For her devotion to protecting the rights of low-income tenants in the District, ensuring they have access to legal representation, and for her work to produce systemic changes in housing policy, Lindhurst was honored with the Legal Services Award. 

The Above and Beyond Award went to Tschirch for her work in organizing DC Pro Bono Week. As with last year's recipient of the award, Tschirch received a bobblehead doll of herself. 

Kirkland & Ellis took home this year's Law Firm Award for its commitment to pro bono work in the District, as well as for its relationship with and support for the WCL. In particular, WCL highlighted the firm's collaboration with the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia in conducting hundreds of intakes and handling dozens of pro bono cases to bring legal services to those most in need.—D.O.   

Jennifer Tschirch receives Above and Beyond Award at Washington Council of Lawyer 2015 Awards Ceremony.Jennifer Tschirch, pro bono coordinator at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law, shows off a bobblehead doll made in her likeness at the Washington Council of Lawyers 2015 Awards Ceremony on December 9. Tschirch received the Above and Beyond Award for her leadership in organizing D.C. Pro Bono Week, a weeklong series of events, trainings, and programs to recognize and promote pro bono work.—D.O. 

JNC Releases Annual Update to Historical Report on D.C. Courts 

The District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission (JNC) has published an annual update to its historical report on the D.C. Courts, including its recommendations to the president of the United States, presidential appointments to the D.C. Court of Appeals and D.C. Superior Court, and the commission's designations of chief judges for those courts. 

The report, which spans 40 years, provides a chronological listing of judges who have served or are serving on the courts, the JNC's nominees to fill vacancies on the courts, and the presidential appointees for those positions. A listing of chief judge designations to the Court of Appeals and the Superior Court dates to 1976. The updated report is current through September 30, 2015. 

For more information about the report, contact Katherine "Katia" L. Garrett, executive director, at 202-879-0478 or dc.jnc@dc.gov.—D.O. 

Reach David O'Boyle and Jeffery Leon at doboyle@dcbar.org and jleon@dcbar.org, respectively. You can also follow David on Twitter at @d_oboyle and Jeffery at @JLeonDCBar.