The District of Columbia Bar has announced the winners of its 2020 Annual Awards honoring those who have worked tirelessly to improve the profession and the greater legal community through public service, volunteer work to improve access to justice, and development of new projects and initiatives.
The D.C. Bar International Law Community (ILC) arranged a wide array of activities and events addressing topics such as international trade, dispute resolution, criminal law, global communication, and investment. Programs included a March 2020 event on the new U.S. Treasury Department regulations implementing the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act; the January 2020 program “Making Sense of Recent Developments in U.S.–China Relations”; and a July 2019 event discussing the U.S. legal framework addressing economic espionage and trade secrets theft, with panelists from multiple divisions of the U.S. Department of Justice. The ILC’s networking receptions focused on the 50th anniversary of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and on immigration regulations. In addition to these well-attended and substantive events, the Community provided opportunities for law students through its ILC Fellows program as well as numerous networking and informational sessions on careers in international law.
South Asian Bar Association of Washington, D.C
The South Asian Bar Association of Washington, D.C. (SABA-DC) organized and cosponsored more than 50 events in 2019, serving its members and the broader D.C. community with timely, educational, and thought-provoking programming. SABA-DC provided many opportunities for career development through events featuring Big Law managing partners, current and former Supreme Court clerks, and Facebook Vice President and Deputy General Counsel Paul Grewal. SABA-DC has also a long tradition of public service, continuing its Public Interest Fellowship Program, mentorship program, and support of the Robert E. Wone Judicial Clerkship & Internship Conference. The bar association also created the Community Response Network, a roster of South Asian attorneys willing to help community members impacted by domestic violence, and cosponsored two naturalization drives and citizenship application workshops.
Laura N. Rinaldi Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year
Stephanie Hales, Sidley Austin LLP
Stephanie Hales, a partner in Sidley Austin’s healthcare and government strategies groups, devoted 562 hours to pro bono work in 2019 (in addition to over 300 hours in 2018). Hales’ many supporters included Whitman-Walker Health’s policy director, who praised her long-term dedication to serving low-income District residents, including her work leading a detailed review of D.C. criminal laws and policies affecting commercial sex workers and consenting adults. Hales’ other supporters noted her policy work promoting the accessibility and affordability of medicines and care critical to D.C. residents with autoimmune disorders, her advocacy that led to groundbreaking expanded Medicaid coverage of cochlear implants, and her work on a housing conditions case for a D.C. family living with mold and rodent infestation. Apart from her pro bono work, Hales also spent hundreds of hours volunteering on the boards of three local nonprofits that serve D.C.’s most vulnerable population.
Pro Bono Law Firm of the Year
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP
In 2019, Fried Frank continued its long-term commitment to improving the lives of its District neighbors, devoting almost 2,900 hours to pro bono service on behalf of the city’s low-income residents. As the composition of its D.C. office gradually changed to include more non-litigators, Fried Frank adapted by increasing pro bono opportunities for transactional lawyers. In 2019, the firm entered into an innovative collaboration with Tzedek DC in which 34 firm attorneys, including 11 partners, represented residents in debt collection and other consumer protection matters. The firm also expanded its participation in the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center’s Nonprofit and Small Business Legal Assistance Programs and continued its support of the Center’s Advice & Referral Clinic and Landlord Tenant Resource Center. Letters of support from the D.C. Volunteer Lawyers Project and the Washington Council of Lawyers attested to the firm’s “vital” role over the years in expanding access to justice in the District of Columbia.
Frederick B. Abramson Award
Law Student Community’s “Let’s Brief It” Podcast
The D.C. Bar Law Student Community realized the potential of podcasts, which have become one of the most popular tools to reach people and share meaningful information, and launched “Let’s Brief It.” For each program, law students conduct research and interview attorneys about their practice areas. The podcast has provided an additional channel through which law students can learn from experienced practitioners as well as connect on a more personal level. The listener base has been strongest locally, but it stretches across the United States and internationally.