From Washington Lawyer, July/August 2015
By David O'Boyle and Michael Smith
Sidley’s Timothy K. Webster Begins Term as D.C. Bar’s 44th President
On June 16 Tim Webster, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, was sworn in as the 44th president of the D.C. Bar at the 2015 Celebration of Leadership, succeeding Brigida Benitez, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP. Benitez will serve the Bar for another year as immediate past president.
Webster, in his opening remarks after taking the oath of office, spoke about his duty as Bar president. “I’ll let [you] in on a little secret—being Bar president is not all [about] christening ships and kissing babies,” he told the audience. “The fundamental work of the president is stewarding the unceasing process of change, both within the Bar . . . and the profession.”
Webster will pick up where Benitez left off by working with the Bar’s Board of Governors to take the next steps in the Bar’s strategic planning process following the recent approval of five strategic priorities and 15 related objectives.
He also plans to oversee the completion of the work of the Global Legal Practice Task Force, which was initiated by Benitez. The task force was formed to explore the increasing globalization of the profession, including the regulation of foreign lawyers seeking admission to practice in the United States, or of Bar members engaging in cross-border practices.
Finally, Webster will focus on the D.C. Bar sections by forming two working groups. One group will explore how best to enhance the experience of sections members, and the other will examine the sections leadership structure to assess leadership as an indirect means to drive member value.
The Bar’s annual Celebration of Leadership, held at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, also included the presentation of awards to outstanding individuals and programs in the District’s legal community.
Daniel A. Koffsky, deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, received the Bar’s Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Excellence in Government Service for his dedication to public service and contributions to the legal profession.
Koffsky, whose brother received the Award in 2011, shared some of his experiences with Rosenberg, calling her “tough-minded, completely without egotism, and joyful about the law.”
Koffsky said his work at the Office of Legal Counsel has afforded him two great privileges: “The first is to have worked in this office with men and women whose talents have been an inspiration and whose friendships have sustained me. The second . . . is to have been allowed some part in guiding the government that the people of the United States made more than 200 years ago.”
The Bar presented its Justice William J. Brennan Jr. Award to James J. Sandman, president of Legal Services Corporation, for his commitment to the pursuit of equal justice and opportunity for all Americans.
The former Bar president called on the local legal community to do more to close the justice gap and to provide legal representation for those who need it. “I don’t understand why in this city—with the numbers we have, with the resources we have, with the culture and values that we have—why anyone should ever lose their home or have their children taken away from them, or have to pursue a protection order against an abuser without a lawyer simply because they can’t afford to pay for one,” Sandman said. “I ask all of you to work with the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center . . . and all of the other wonderful legal services organizations in our city to change that.” (To view videos and read transcripts of Koffsky’s and Sandman’s acceptance speeches, click here: Celebration of Leadership.)
Dennis Lane of Stinson Leonard Street LLP and Gary Thompson of Reed Smith LLP were honored as Laura N. Rinaldi Pro Bono Lawyers of the Year, while Covington & Burling LLP was recognized as Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year.
The D.C. Bar Administrative Law and Agency Practice Section was presented with the Section of the Year Award, and the 16th Annual Youth Law Fair, hosted by the D.C. Bar Litigation Section and the D.C. Superior Court, received the Frederick B. Abramson Award.—D.O.
Bar’s Board of Governors Approves New Strategic Plan Priorities
On June 9 the D.C. Bar Board of Governors approved a set of priorities and objectives proposed by the Strategic Planning Committee charged with developing D.C. Bar 2020, the organization’s new strategic plan for the next five years.
The five priorities focus on the Bar’s vision of leading within the legal profession, empowering individuals, enhancing member value, providing public service and professional excellence, and fostering community and connections. The priorities were identified by the committee following a comprehensive environmental scan of the legal profession and extensive member engagement efforts.
To ensure that the priorities reflect the voices of all Bar members, the committee reached out to each of the Bar’s diverse membership groups. During the process, more than 2,500 members responded to four polls that targeted their thoughts on globalization, the effects of economic forces on the industry, where the Bar should focus its training efforts, and whether the Bar should play a role in organizing groups to discuss issues affecting the profession. In addition, 2,453 members completed a comprehensive survey, with nearly 1,200 of them providing further comments.
A total of 346 members participated in 21 small focus groups hosted by the Bar to facilitate in-depth discussion on the current state of the organization and its strategic priorities looking forward. The committee heard from government attorneys, contract attorneys, solo practitioners, resigned members, in-house counsel, active and inactive members, lawyers working overseas, judicial members, and attorneys from various experience levels and age groups.
The Board’s vote signals the end of the first two steps of Phase 1 of the D.C. Bar 2020 planning process. Moving forward, the Bar plans to complete Phase 1 by identifying the organizational implications of the priorities and objectives, as well as to identify its strategic goals, initiatives, and key performance indicators. Phases 2 through 4 will focus on executing, measuring, and evaluating the strategy.
To view the recommendations of the D.C. Bar Strategic Planning Committee, click here: Strategic Priorities.
UDC’s Steward Garners D.C. Bar President-Elect Post
Annamaria Steward, associate dean of students at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) David A. Clarke School of Law, has been elected president-elect of the D.C. Bar for the 2015–2016 term. Steward assumed office on June 16 and will serve in that post for one year before becoming president. She will continue in office a third year as immediate past president.
Steward is a member of the Bar’s Board of Governors and also serves on its Executive, Budget, and Leadership Development committees. She formerly served a term as D.C. Bar secretary and was a member of the Bar’s Strategic Planning and Publications committees. Steward was elected president of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia for the 2010–2011 term. She has been active in various capacities in the National Bar Association, Washington Bar Association, and American Bar Association (ABA) Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section.
At UDC, Steward leads, develops, and oversees all aspects of student affairs of the law school student body in accordance with ABA standards.
Also elected for one-year terms were, as secretary, Shara Chang of BuckleySandler LLP, and, as treasurer, Christopher P. Zubowicz of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Elected to the Bar’s Board of Governors were Susan Low Bloch of Georgetown University Law Center, Moses A. Cook of D.C. Law Students in Court, Ann K. Ford of DLA Piper LLP (two-year term), Arian M. June of WilmerHale LLP, Leah M. Quadrino of Steptoe & Johnson LLP, and Gregory S. Smith of the Law Offices of Gregory S. Smith.
Elected for two-year terms on the ABA House of Delegates were Paul M. Smith of Jenner & Block LLP and D. Jean Veta of Covington & Burling LLP. Carter T. Coker of Hunton & Williams LLP was elected for the under-36 seat.
All newly elected officers, board members, and delegates took office during the 2015 Celebration of Leadership: The D.C. Bar Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting on June 16.
D.C. Bar 2015 Election Results
(Winners in bold) President-Elect: Annamaria Steward, 3,193; Laura Possessky, 3,158. Secretary: Shara Chang, 3,283; Lindsey R. Vaala, 2,668. Treasurer: Christopher P. Zubowicz, 3,907; Jeffrey D. Ahdoot, 1,891. Board of Governors: Susan Low Bloch, 3,641; Arian M. June, 3,524; Moses A. Cook, 3,008; Gregory S. Smith, 2,900; Leah M. Quadrino, 2,617; *Ann K. Ford, 2,455; Marina S. Barannik, 2,332; Matthew Kaiser, 2,314; Mark A. Salzberg, 2,307; G. Brian Busey, 1,910. ABA House of Delegates: Paul M. Smith, 3,474; D. Jean Veta, 3,115; Beth L. Law, 2,496; Lisa J. Savitt, 1,731. ABA House of Delegates, Under-36 Seat: Carter T. Coker, 3,680; Ross C. Paolino, 1,763.
*Will serve a two-year term.
Bar Seeks Dues Ceiling Increase Authorization From Court
The D.C. Court of Appeals is calling for comments on a petition filed by the D.C. Bar Board of Governors recommending an increase in its dues ceiling to $380 to fund its projected operating expenses for at least the next five fiscal years. The deadline for comments is September 8.
The petition, filed on June 30, 2015, seeks only to set the new ceiling for dues, which currently is $285. The current ceiling was set by the court in 2008 and enabled the Bar to operate for seven fiscal years—two more than originally projected. Actual Bar dues amounts—currently $280 for active members, $145 for inactive members, and $142 for judicial members—are set annually by the Board after an extensive budgeting process and in keeping with the established ceiling.
“The D.C. Bar has demonstrated strong fiscal integrity in the past that should provide confidence in the future,” according to a memorandum in support of the Board’s recommendation. “The Bar, acting through its elected leadership and professional staff, has a history of conservative budgeting.
“We believe that the additional dues authority that would be available through the requested dues ceiling increase is critical if the Bar is to continue to maintain its disciplinary and regulatory functions and to provide the levels of other services that are required by Court rules and that our members have come to expect,” the memorandum stated.
In reaching its recommendation, the Board relied on the work of its special Dues Ceiling Rate Authorization Committee, chaired by former D.C. Bar president Thomas S. Williamson Jr., which examined the Bar’s current and projected finances and used conservative financial modeling to project the funding needed to allow continued operations through 2021. It also noted that the current request represents a smaller percentage increase than the previous request—34 percent versus 40 percent—and that D.C. Bar dues are consistently among the lowest in the country for a bar of its size. The Bar’s operations include comprehensive programs to support professional competence, professionalism, and ethical conduct, an attorney discipline system, and a Clients’ Security Fund.
The memorandum also noted the Board’s recent adoption of a series of strategic priorities and objectives to guide the Bar’s operations for the next five years.
Under Rule II, Section 5, of the D.C. Court of Appeals Rules Governing the D.C. Bar, the Board’s recommendation will be published by the court for a comment period of at least 60 days and is not subject to member referendum.
Interested parties should submit 10 copies of any written comment to the Clerk, D.C. Court of Appeals, 430 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20001. Comments will be available to the public.
To view the full petition, visit http://tinyurl.com/p3pvo6f.
Court of Appeals Seeks Comments on Proposed Name Change of Bar Counsel
The D.C. Court of Appeals is seeking comments on a proposal by the D.C. Bar to amend Rule XI of the D.C. Court of Appeals Rules Governing the Bar to change the title of Bar Counsel to Disciplinary Counsel and, in effect, to make conforming changes to other rules.
In its proposal, the Bar’s Board of Governors said the new title would more accurately reflect the activities of the prosecutorial office of the D.C. attorney disciplinary system. If adopted, the Office of Bar Counsel would also be renamed the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
The proposed amendment was first submitted to the Bar by the Board on Professional Responsibility in February 2014. In May of that year, the Board of Governors voted to support the proposal and to submit it to the court for its consideration.
In addition to the title change, the proposal seeks to amend relevant D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct and Comments; Rule II, Section 7, of the Rules Governing the Bar; and the Commentary to D.C. Court of Appeals Rule 49(e) to conform to the proposed new name of the disciplinary office.
Interested parties must submit their written comments by August 10. Ten copies of any comments should be addressed to Clerk, D.C. Court of Appeals, 430 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20001.
To view the full court notice or for additional information, visit the D.C. Courts’ Web site at www.dccourts.gov.
Don’t Lose Your License! Pay Bar Dues by September 30
D.C. Bar members whose Bar dues and/or late fee, if applicable, are not received or postmarked by September 30 automatically will be suspended administratively for nonpayment and subject to additional reinstatement fees.
Dues are $280 for active members, $145 for inactive members, and $142 for judicial members. When paying dues, members also may join a section or renew their section memberships and make contributions to the recently renamed D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center.
The deadline for paying dues was July 1. Dues not received or postmarked by July 15 were assessed a late fee of $30.
Payments may be remitted to the Bar’s Member Service Center by calling 202-626-3475 or toll free outside the Metro area at 1-877-333-2227, ext. 3475; by e-mailing email@example.com; by mail at 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005; or online. 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.
Members are encouraged to confirm all of their personal information on the dues statement, including e-mail addresses.
Presidents’ Reception Raises $848K to Support D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center
An estimated 300 people gathered on June 16 at a reception to honor Tim Webster, a partner at Sidley Austin LLP, as the new president of the D.C. Bar and to celebrate the work and achievements of the newly renamed D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center.
The D.C. Bar Presidents’ Reception, held at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, preceded the 2015 Celebration of Leadership: The D.C. Bar Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting where Webster was formally installed as the 44th president of the Bar.
Webster said he is proud to lead the Bar, in large part because of the “catalytic power” of the Pro Bono Center’s activities.
“With a staff of only 18, the [Pro Bono Center] rouses lawyers of all stripes, from baby boomers to millennials, across an arc of practices, from small to large firms, [and from] government agencies to in-house counsel,” Webster said.
“Those lawyers—1,400-strong—many of whom are in this room tonight, participate in a range of innovative clinics, resources, resource centers, and programs that serve thousands of D.C. residents, nonprofits, and businesses each year,” Webster added.
The annual reception also serves as a fundraiser for the Pro Bono Center’s programs, which are supported entirely by voluntary contributions. This year’s reception raised $848,000, or roughly one-third of the center’s annual budget.
Brigida Benitez, immediate past president of the Bar and a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, talked about how the Pro Bono Center was renamed following an in-depth strategic planning effort. “We believe that D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center better reflects the remarkable breadth and depth of programs and services this organization provides to individuals and families in the community each year with the help of so many of you in this room,” Benitez said.
D.C. Bar Pro Bono Committee Chair Ann K. Ford said the Pro Bono Center “is one of the best in the country because we have some of the most dedicated lawyers in the nation.”
“In addition to the thousands of people we serve every year in times of crisis, the Pro Bono Center supports hundreds of safety net nonprofits that serve low-income residents every day and small businesses that create jobs in this struggling economy,” added Ford, a partner at DLA Piper LLP.
Monika Kalra Varma, executive director of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center, said that when people face some of the most difficult moments in their lives, they can turn to the Pro Bono Center, which reaches individuals in need of legal help in their neighborhoods, through clinics, and at the court.
“The Pro Bono Center serves 20,000 of our Washington neighbors each year who need legal assistance,” Varma said. “Often a one-hour meeting with an attorney can provide an enormous amount of relief for a couple considering bankruptcy, or a mother trying to protect her home or preserve her family,” she said.—M.S.
Bar Seeks Candidates for Various Committee, Board Vacancies
The D.C. Bar Board of Governors is seeking candidates for appointment in the fall to the following standing committees: Continuing Legal Education, Election Board, Lawyer Assistance, Leadership Development, Practice Management Advisory Service, Regulations/Rules/Board Procedures, Rules of Professional Conduct Review, and Technology. (Committees with nonlawyer designees: Lawyer Assistance, Practice Management Advisory Service, and Technology.) The deadline to apply for these vacancies is September 4.
Additionally, the Bar is seeking candidates to fill vacancies on the board of the Clients’ Security Fund, Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP), and on the Committee on Nominations. The deadline to apply for these vacancies is October 2.
NLSP: The Board of Governors is accepting applications from D.C. Bar members who are interested in serving on the NLSP board of directors. 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.
Committee on Nominations: The Bar is accepting applications for the seven-member Committee on Nominations. This body is appointed each year in accordance with the Bar’s bylaws and is responsible for nominating candidates for officer and member positions on the Board of Governors as well as delegates to the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association. Any active Bar member who is not a Board of Governors officer or member and who has not served on the Committee on Nominations during the past three years is eligible to apply.
To apply for any of these openings, please submit a résumé and a cover letter stating the committee(s) or board 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 can be found online at www.dcbar.org, keywords: Standing Committees.
Submit materials via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to D.C. Bar Executive Office, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210.
48 Firms Raise $5M in Campaign to Fund Legal Services Providers
As part of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission’s Raising the Bar in D.C. Campaign, 48 law firms in the District of Columbia were recognized for donating more than $5 million to local legal services providers.
The campaign encourages law firms to tie a percentage of their D.C. office revenue to donations to organizations that serve low-income D.C. residents with urgent legal needs. The commission honored the participating firms on May 27 at a reception at the offices of Covington & Burling LLP.
“The leadership group that’s here . . . is comprised of firms of every size, from global entities to small and mid-size firms to solo practitioners,” said Peter Edelman, chair of the commission and a professor at Georgetown University Law Center. “That’s such a great statement of the commitment across the private bar to ensuring that every individual, regardless of income, has equal access to justice.”
At the reception, U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. thanked the firms for their contributions and called for more work to be done in addressing the access to justice gap. He also encouraged lawyers to get involved in the growing public debate about income inequality in the country, and to increase the provision of legal services for the middle class and those living in poverty.
“For all people in our society to live with dignity and with both the hope and the real prospect that they can better themselves, justice is the main ingredient: justice in the courts, justice in their dealings with government, justice in the workplace, justice in their efforts to secure decent and affordable housing, health care, and the rest of life’s necessities,” Verrilli said.
The Raising the Bar campaign recognizes law firms at three different levels of giving based on a percentage of their annual revenue. A total of 30 firms were recognized at the platinum level for donating .11 percent of their office revenue; 7 firms at the gold level, or .09 percent of their revenue; and 11 firms at the silver level, or .075 percent of their revenue.—D.O.
PMAS’ ‘Small Firm Course’ Wins ABA Professionalism Award
The American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on Professionalism has recognized the D.C. Bar Practice Management Advisory Service (PMAS) with the E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award for its “Successful Small Firm Practice Course.”
The award was presented on July 31 at the joint luncheon of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, National Association of Bar Executives, and National Conference of Bar Foundations.
The course was recognized for supporting, fortifying, and training attorneys, with little or no experience in managing a law practice, who have moved into a solo or small firm practice. The committee specifically highlighted the course’s emphasis on processes ensuring compliance with the essential duties of a lawyer.
PMAS Senior Staff Attorney “Rochelle Washington and I are truly pleased that the ABA has recognized the D.C. Bar’s commitment to serving its members,” said Daniel M. Mills, assistant director of PMAS. “As presenters of the course, we know how important it is to lawyers who are starting, managing, or growing a law firm and how difficult those tasks are in today’s market. Our bar is unique in its commitment to members who benefit from the course.”
Developed and presented by Mills and Washington, the free 10-week course provides attorneys with the information they need to compete and thrive while adhering to ethics in the modern-day legal profession.
The next “Successful Small Firm Practice Course” series runs from August 17 to November 2. Daytime brown bag luncheon sessions take place from 12 to 2 p.m., and evening sessions take place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the D.C. Bar Conference Center, 1101 K Street NW, first floor. Participants may register for any or all of the sessions.
For more information, click here: Small Firm.—D.O.
D.C. Bar Sections Elect New Steering Committee Members
The D.C. Bar’s 20 sections have elected new members to serve on their respective steering committees. In their roles, committee members will develop and organize substantive and social programs in their specific practice areas throughout the year. Unless otherwise noted, all terms are for three years, running from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2018.
Administrative Law and Agency Practice: Matthew R. Oakes, U.S. Department of Justice; Judith R. Starr, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation; and Matthew L. Wiener, Administrative Conference of the United States.
Antitrust and Consumer Law: Daniel P. Ducore, Federal Trade Commission; Richard V. Rodriguez, Office of the Attorney General of the District of Columbia; and George P. Slover, Consumers Union.
Arts, Entertainment, Media and Sports Law: Thomas Curley, Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz LLP; Deneen Howell, Williams & Connolly LLP; and Micah J. Ratner, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.
Corporation, Finance and Securities Law: Tony Y. Chan, Dechert LLP; Joan E. McKown, Jones Day; and Michael L. Post, Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board.
Courts, Lawyers and the Administration of Justice: H. Faith Mullen, Columbus Community Legal Services; Valerie J. Schneider, Fair Housing Clinic, Howard University School of Law; and David G. Steib, Ayuda.
Criminal Law and Individual Rights: Stephanie L. Johnson, Hunter & Johnson, PLLC; Kira A. West, Law Office of Kira Anne West; and Elizabeth B. Wydra, Constitutional Accountability Center.
District of Columbia Affairs: Janene D. Jackson, Holland & Knight LLP; Sally B. Kram, Consortium of Universities; and Smruti V. Radkar, University of the District of Columbia.
Environment, Energy and Natural Resources: Lisa B. Goldman, Environmental Law Institute; Adam M. Kushner, Hogan Lovells LLP; and Linda Tsang, American Forest & Paper Association.
*Estates, Trusts and Probate Law: Christopher M. Guest, Law Office of Christopher Guest, PLLC; Stephanie Perry, Pasternak & Fidis PC; Karla E. Saguil, Office of the Register of Wills; and *Eli J. Guiterman, Li Latsey & Guiterman PLLC (assuming remainder of two-year term of a steering committee member who resigned).
Family Law: Matthew B. Andelman, Delaney McKinney LLP; Sarah E. Mancinelli, Ain and Bank P.C.; and Stephanie N. Troyer, Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.
Government Contracts and Litigation: Joseph P. Hornyak, Holland & Knight LLP; Tracye W. Howard, Wiley Rein LLP; and Elizabeth P. Martin, U.S. Postal Service, Office of Inspector General.
Health Law: Marie-Claire Brown, D.C. Department of Health; Elizabeth K. Isbey, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; and Julia K. Tamulis, Bass Berry & Sims PLC.
Intellectual Property Law: Kenie Ho, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP; and Benjamin H. Huh, Ropes & Gray LLP.
International Law: Stephen J. Claeys, U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, Trade Subcommittee; Cortney O. Morgan, Husch Blackwell LLP; and Jessica E. Tannenbaum, American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative.
*Labor and Employment Law: Wynter P. Allen, Alden Law Group PLLC; Carla D. Brown, Charlson Bredehoft Cohen Brown & Sakata; Tammy R. Daub, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor; and *Keith D. Greenberg, Keith D. Greenberg, Esq., Arbitrator and Mediator (assuming remainder of one-year term of a steering committee member who became council chair-elect).
Law Practice Management: Heather A. D. Batzel, Batzel Law PLLC; Margaret M. Cassidy, Cassidy Law PLLC; and J. Thomas Spiggle, The Spiggle Law Firm.
Litigation: Kevin M. Clark, Attorney-at-Law; Shirley Horng, Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia; and Amy L. Neuhardt, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP.
Real Estate, Housing and Land Use: Lyle M. Blanchard, Greenstein Delorme & Luchs PC; Livya L. Heithaus, The JBG Companies; and Brian W. Thompson, Jackson & Campbell, P.C.
Taxation: Michael J. Caballero, Covington & Burling LLP; Kimberly M. Eney, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP; and Scott M. Levine, Jones Day.
Tort Law: Jonathan B. Nace, Paulson & Nace, PLLC; and Daniel S. Singer, Schultz & Trombly, PLLC.
Inaugural Practice 360o Serves Up Legal Expertise to Bar Members
The D.C. Bar Practice Management Advisory Service (PMAS) hosted its inaugural Practice 360o on May 15. The free, all-day event, dubbed “A Day for Lawyers & Law Firms,” included a variety of programming for Bar members covering essential and practical information to enhance their law practice and improve client services.
Drawing nearly 200 attendees, Practice 360o consisted of 20 separate sessions on a wide range of topics such as the latest tech trends in the legal industry, the basics of tax preparation and malpractice insurance, and defining and maintaining professional boundaries.
D.C. Bar senior staff attorney “Rochelle Washington did a terrific job selecting the content and working with the presenters to create 20 sessions that our members were eager to attend,” said Dan Mills, assistant director of PMAS. “A majority of our presenters were lawyers intimately involved with their subject matter as opposed to more commercial presenters that one often sees at events like this . . . We called this event ‘A Day for Lawyers and Law Firms,’ and from the response we have received, we were successful in serving our members.”
Social media and how lawyers can use these online tools in their practice were the topics of two sessions led by Tasha Cooper, president of UpwardAction, LLC. Cooper’s first hour-long session highlighted the benefits of the professional networking site LinkedIn. In her second session, Cooper talked about how lawyers should manage their online reputation in a way that builds their brand.
Linda Priebe, a partner at Culhane Meadows, PLLC, led a discussion on the ethical pitfalls of social media use by attorneys. In light of what she termed an “explosion of attorney social media use,” Priebe outlined the ethical duties—such as advertising, competence, confidentiality, investigations, and the gathering of evidence—of attorneys in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. “I don’t think I’ve yet met a lawyer that knew before I told them that their law firm’s social media was subject to jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB],” Priebe said. “Social media compliance and the relationships between employers and employees is a huge issue for the NLRB.”
Sharon Nelson and John Simek, cofounders of Sensei Enterprises, Inc., led a discussion on cybersecurity for lawyers. Nelson said that lawyers need to be convinced of the need for cybersecurity, and that they either have to become competent with technology or hire someone who is. “People hire experts all the time when they don’t know [something], and that’s what you should do,” Nelson said. “You have to make reasonable efforts to secure your data.”
In addition to the informative seminars, representatives from more than 20 vendors were available to speak with Bar members on topics such as using smartphones to their fullest potential in a law practice, or which malpractice insurance plan best suited their firm.
For more information about the event’s presentation and to view handouts, click here: Practice 360.—D.O. and M.S.
D.C. Court of Appeals Withdraws Order on Pleading Procedures
On June 10 the D.C. Court of Appeals vacated Administrative Order 2-15, which required counsel to provide an e-mail address and cell phone number in all pleadings. When notice of the change was publicized on May 28, the court received complaints about including lawyers’ personal contact information in public documents.
“DCCA Administrative Order 2-15 was issued to ensure that the Clerk’s Office had updated contact information for all counsel who practice before the Court of Appeals. However, because court pleadings are public records, attorneys expressed concern about having to provide the Court with their personal contact information in such a manner,” said D.C. Courts spokesperson Leah Gurowitz in a written statement. “The Court agreed with their concerns and rescinded the Order in favor of an alternative approach that better protects the privacy of the lawyers while providing the Clerk’s Office with the information it needs to ensure the accuracy of its communications with counsel.”
While attorneys are still being asked to provide their contact information to the court, that information will be kept confidential.
To see a copy of both the original order, Administrative Order 2-15, and the vacated order, visit the D.C. Courts' Web site.
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 and fiduciary 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 Estates, Trusts and Probate Law Section or contributors to the Digest can receive a discount code by e-mailing your full name and Bar number to email@example.com.
For more information or to download the Digest, visit the D.C. Bar Marketplace.
D.C. Superior Court Names New Clerk of Court
The Superior Court of the District of Columbia has appointed James D. McGinley, an experienced litigator and career military officer, as clerk of the Superior Court. McGinley’s appointment became effective on June 8.
As court clerk, McGinley will oversee all Superior Court operations, including the Civil, Criminal, Domestic Violence, Family Court, Multi-Door Dispute Resolution (Mediation), Probate, Special Operations (including Interpreter Services and the Jurors’ Office), and Tax divisions, as well as the Crime Victims Compensation Program, according to a statement from the Superior Court.
McGinley is a former partner at Hiepler & Hiepler, an Oxnard, California, civil litigation firm. He also served as a pro tem judge for the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Ventura.
After a 30-year career as a naval aviator in the U.S. Marine Corps., McGinley retired in 2013 with the rank of colonel. He completed three combat tours, and his decorations include the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star.
McGinley graduated from California State University, Long Beach; Pepperdine University School of Law; and Georgetown University Law Center.—M.S.
Honor Roll Recognizes 4,257 Attorneys for Pro Bono Service
D.C. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Eric T. Washington and D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield published the annual Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll in May, commending D.C. Bar members and others in the legal community for their pro bono service.
The Honor Roll was created by the court and is supported by the Access to Justice Commission and the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center.
A total of 4,257 attorneys who contributed 50 hours or more to providing pro bono legal services are recognized on the honor roll. Attorneys from more than 150 law firms and solo practices, as well as from a variety of corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations, qualified for the recognition, representing a broad range of the legal community.
“The D.C. Bar Pro Bono [Center] is thrilled to see the Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll numbers once again increase to the highest number ever, demonstrating that the pro bono spirit is strong in the District of Columbia,” said Ann K. Ford, chair of the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Committee.
More than 2,500 of the listed attorneys contributed more than 100 hours of service and were included in the High Honor Roll.
“The presence on the Honor Roll of lawyers from such a broad range of legal settings is a powerful statement about the commitment to access to justice across the legal community,” said Peter Edelman, chair of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission.
First-of-a-Kind Nonprofit Law Firm Ready to Fill Access to Justice Gap
What may be the first low bono law firm in the United States is about to hang out its shingle in Washington, D.C.
The D.C. Affordable Law Firm (DCALF), a partnership between Georgetown University Law Center and the law firms Arent Fox LLP and DLA Piper LLP, will provide legal services to D.C. residents whose incomes are too high to qualify for pro bono legal aid, but not enough to afford private attorneys.
Georgetown Law first announced in April that it was teaming up with the two law firms to open a nonprofit firm that will offer affordable legal services to clients of modest means. DCALF is targeting individuals whose incomes are between 200 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty line.
“We’ve selected six graduates . . . from our law school to be the first six lawyers [at DCALF],” said Peter Edelman, the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Law and Public Policy at Georgetown Law who helped spearhead the project. “We are ready to go.”
Changing the System
DCALF’s launch had been in the works for almost four years. Edelman said the idea for the low bono law firm was hatched in a “chance conversation” at a social occasion in November 2011 with Judith Sandalow, executive director of the Children’s Law Center, and Georgetown Law Dean William Treanor.
“Judith raised the idea,” Edelman said. “The dean and I both responded instantaneously that that was of interest to us. That’s when the seed was planted.”
At Treanor’s request, Edelman began the process of looking into the practicality of starting a nonprofit law firm. In the summer of 2012, thinking that gaining a partnership with a local law firm made sense, Edelman met with the chairs or managing partners of five firms to pitch the project. Arent Fox took a complete and immediate interest, according to Edelman.
Marc Fleischaker, chair emeritus at Arent Fox who will serve as DCALF’s board chair, said the idea is “to change the system a little bit to give access to legal services to middle-class and working-class people [who cannot] afford the very high legal fees that are charged by Washington firms.”
Fleischaker served as his firm’s point person on the project, working with Edelman. In 2013 the two attended a meeting hosted by the D.C. Bar at the behest of then Bar president Andrea Ferster on how to make affordable legal services available to D.C. residents of modest incomes.
“Certainly what Andrea Ferster did during her year as D.C. Bar president was helpful to create a climate of interest here in the city,” Edelman said.
To staff the firm, Georgetown will provide 15-month paid fellowships to six of its graduating students each year. Six new lawyers were recently selected from a pool of 40 applicants. The law school will provide $40,000 stipends to the lawyers and will award them LL.M degrees at no cost at the end of their fellowship.
DCALF will be located at the Farragut Square offices of Arent Fox, which also will be providing physical and technological support. DLA Piper will train the new lawyers and establish DCALF’s policies and procedures. Together, Georgetown Law and the two law firms will provide more than $1 million in financial and pro bono support annually to DCALF over the next three years, the university said in a statement.
DCALF is anticipated to open its doors this October.
Targeting Low Bono Clients
For individuals trying to navigate the legal system without a lawyer, “it’s like going into a hospital and operating on yourself,” according to Edelman. And in the District of Columbia, there is a significant number of people who do not qualify for pro bono legal help, such as a family of four with an annual income of $50,000 or an individual who earns $25,000, yet could not afford the services of an attorney.
“There is a huge population in the District of Columbia . . . [that does not] qualify for free legal aid, but is just above the qualifying line and cannot afford rates lawyers normally charge,” said Sheldon Krantz, a senior fellow at the Georgetown Center for the Study of the Legal Profession and a retired partner in residence at DLA Piper. Krantz will serve as DCALF’s first executive director on a pro bono basis.
Jane Aiken, associate dean for experiential education and law professor at Georgetown, worked with Edelman to devise the firm. DCALF’s caseload will focus on “housing, elder law, and domestic relations,” Aiken said, and the firm may be adding immigration and consumer debt to its practice.
DCALF’s principals hope to partner with the D.C. public interest law community “that has a deep knowledge about the needs of the population that we hope to serve,” Aiken said. “Many have offered us access to their expertise in training effective lawyers and how best to serve our clients.”
One of the first lawyers at DCALF will be 2015 Georgetown graduate Christopher Griesedieck, who said public interest law “is the whole reason I went to law school.”
“I’ve had pretty much every opportunity afforded to me. . . to have a good education, to always have time to study, and to do well, and I just feel like I have a responsibility to work for other people who don’t have those opportunities,” Griesedieck said.
Tabitha King, another DCALF hire, said she is looking forward to gaining practical experience, training, and supervision during her fellowship. “We are going to get a lot of intensive interaction with some top lawyers in the field—very one-on-one feedback on our work—whether it is advocacy, whether it’s writing, a lot of training,” King said.
“What we have here is a model that I don’t think exists anywhere else, which is the combination of major law firms with the Georgetown Law Center,” Edelman said. “We hope this will be a model for other programs around the country.”
Learn more about the D.C. Affordable Law Firm.—M.S.