Almost 400 guests attended the 2018 Annual Gala of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC Law) on Wednesday, June 6th, held in the beautiful Independence Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Washington hotel. The event raised over $500,000 to support UDC Law’s Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program and Scholarship Funds. The UDC Law community of alumni, supporters, faculty and students turned out in force to honor outgoing Dean Katherine “Shelley” Broderick and Tony West, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of Uber Technologies, Inc., for their outstanding commitment and service to the public interest, diversity and justice.
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, University of the District of Columbia (UDC) President Ronald Mason, Jr. , Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh, Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Senior Advisor to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser Beverly L. Perry, Chair of the UDC Board of Trustees and Partner at Ballard Spahr LLP Christopher Bell, President of the Legal Services Corporation James Sandman, former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, family of the late D.C. Councilmember and namesake of UDC Law David A. Clarke, Carole Clarke and son Jeffrey Clarke, and Jon Bouker, Board Chair of the D.C. School of Law Foundation and Partner at Arent Fox LLP, were among those in attendance to celebrate the District of Columbia’s only public law school and the extraordinary community of faculty, staff, students and alumni committed to the public interest. The event showcased the work of students and faculty in UDC Law’s Housing and Consumer Law Clinic and Community Development Law Clinic, part of UDC Law’s nationally-recognized clinical program, and the outsized impact that D.C.’s only public law school has on the community.
The Little Law School That Can
UDC President Ronald Mason, Jr. gave opening remarks praising Dean Shelley Broderick’s two decades of leadership and reflecting on the powerful impact UDC Law has had on the University community and to the people of the District. “We are all hard at work transforming UDC into an advanced system of higher learning where our students aspire, accomplish, and take on the world.”
Jon Bouker, D.C. School of Law Foundation Chair, then took the stage to welcome the crowd and describe the critical role of the Foundation in raising private funds to support UDC Law’s students and programs, saying “Your support makes it possible for students who could not otherwise afford to attend law school to get a law degree,” while “giving back to the community, by providing 400 hours over the summer to government agencies, judicial chambers, and non-profits serving poor and vulnerable people.” He then introduced a five-minute video depicting UDC Law‘s mission and featuring members of the law school community.
Dean Shelley Broderick stepped up to the podium and remarked that, no matter how many times she views the video, “I can’t get through it without weeping. I so hope that you see what I see—a special law school that enables our students to practice law, promote justice and change the lives of D.C. residents.” She brought the audience to its feet with a rousing speech on the journey of the “Little Law School that Can” over nearly five decades, as it has held fast to its core mission to graduate students from groups traditionally underrepresented at the bar and to provide legal services to low-income District residents through its clinical programs.
Public School, Public Interest
The dinner service transitioned into a video presentation featuring UDC Law students and faculty in the School’s Community Development Law and Housing and Consumer Law Clinics. The presentation highlighted the important work of UDC Law’s clinics on the fiftieth anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, which was the subject of the School’s two-day symposium “FHA@50: Renewing Our Commitment to Housing Equity.”
Several of the UDC Law students featured in the video then took the stage. Jason Diggs (’18) spoke about his work in the Community Development Law Clinic providing transactional legal services to community organizations and small businesses to increase community control and ownership of District resources. “I was raised by a single mother with three pretty rambunctious boys in a public housing project in southeast Virginia. I saw her win, I saw her lose, but I never saw her quit,” said Mr. Diggs. “In that clinic, I met people just like my mom, people with amazing stories, but difficult challenges. But now I had the privilege to offer them support—and hope—for social justice.” Mr. Diggs, who took a well-deserved break for the evening from his preparation for the bar exam, plans to practice housing and community development law. During the summer of his first year, Mr. Diggs was awarded a Rauh Summer Fellowship to serve with the Virginia Legal Aid Society where he represented low-income clients in civil matters including eviction defense. He went on to receive a Freddie Mac Fellowship in the summer of his second year, working as a judicial law clerk in HUD’s Office of Hearings and Appeals. His last semester, Mr. Diggs was an extern at Manna, a non-profit, affordable housing developer in D.C., working alongside Director of Project Development Rozanne Look (’82).
LaNise Salley (’19), who spent last semester as a student attorney with the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic, will continue on as a Rauh Summer Fellow at the clinic focusing on securing critical repairs for low-income D.C. renters. Ms. Salley emphasized the importance of UDC Law’s scholarship programs, saying “On behalf of myself and the family I’ve created here at UDC Law, thank you.” Last summer, Ms. Salley was selected as an Equal Justice America Summer Fellow and provided legal services to low-income D.C. residents in debt collection matters at Tzedek DC, an independent public interest center housed at UDC Law. Ms. Salley’s success as a summer fellow led Tzedek DC to retain her as an intern during the fall semester and feature her in a documentary highlighting the organization’s work.
Theo Wilhite (’19), a “double firebird” who served as student representative on the UDC Board of Trustees as an undergraduate, spoke powerfully about how he overcame a host of challenges to become a UDC Law student, saying “I got my life back and today I am not a victim. I am a victor, and I hope to take my lived experiences to continue to advocate for persons who find themselves in similar situations.” Mr. Wilhite spent his semester as a student attorney in the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic, where he represented low-income District residents and advanced the clinic mission to preserve and expand quality affordable housing. Mr. Wilhite spent last summer as a Rauh Summer Fellow working in the office of D.C. Councilmember Robert White and the D.C. Office of Planning, assisting in community development matters. He is currently a District Leadership Program fellow, working at the D.C. Office of Planning exploring the intersection of equity and land use. Mr. Wilhite is the incoming President of the Student Bar Association for the 2018-19 academic year.
Keilah Roberts (’19) decided to come to law school after her family faced eviction from her childhood home when she was a teenager, having watched her family of seven struggle in the civil court system without legal representation. “Fortunately, this case was handled by none other than the first lawyer I knew, my mother. Our lawyer, my mother, doesn’t have a law degree, a college degree or even high school diploma. But nonetheless she is still the fiercest advocate I know. Armed with my mother’s courage to defend others, I applied to law school.” This past semester, Ms. Roberts was a student attorney with the Community Development Law Clinic, where she provided transactional legal services to D.C.-based housing cooperatives and other community organizations. Ms. Roberts was awarded a Rauh Summer Fellowship in the summer of her first year, interning with the Honorable Zuberi B. Williams of the Sixth District Court of Maryland. This summer, Ms. Roberts will join the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau as a student attorney.
Law As Justice
Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General and a Partner at Covington & Burling LLP, then took the stage for the award presentation honoring his former colleague, Tony West, who was a senior official in the U.S. Department of Justice in the Obama Administration. Mr. Holder regaled the audience with tales of Mr. West’s time as head of the Civil Division and later Associate Attorney General, praising Mr. West’s relentless work ethic and deep commitment to serving the public interest. Mr. Holder described Mr. West’s many accomplishments, ranging from his leadership in the Obama Administration’s review of the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act and the ultimate decision not to defend that statute, to his leadership in the DOJ’s challenges to discriminatory immigration laws passed in states such as Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, and Utah.
Mr. Holder also noted how fitting it is that Mr. West, a public interest champion, was honored by the nation’s preeminent public interest law school at a gala highlighting the students’ clinical work in the housing and community development area on the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, saying “There is no better man to be here for such an occasion than Tony, who brought lawsuits under the act and made fair and bias free housing a priority for the Justice Department.”
Mr. Holder also harkened back to his 2010 Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Lecture at UDC Law, when he called for law schools around the country to follow UDC Law’s model and adopt clinical and community services as a requirement of the law school curriculum. “Given the state of our country now, and the threats to Legal Services Corporation funding, we need lawyers trained in the UDC Law clinical model, now more than ever before,” said Mr. Holder. “I renew my call for other law schools to look to UDC’s David A. Clarke School of Law for inspiration and consider adopting a serious clinic service requirement.”
Mr. Holder then introduced a video presentation which showcased Mr. West’s life and work and included congratulatory remarks from Mr. West’s sister-in-law U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), PepsiCo CEO and Chairman Indra K. Nooyi, founding partner of Kaplan & Company LLP and counsel to the Edith Windsor in the Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor, Roberta Kaplan, and Thomas Perrelli, former U.S. Associate Attorney General and partner at Jenner & Block. Mr. West also made prerecorded remarks, speaking about the support of his family and upbringing as the driving force for his life of public service and the importance of practicing law as a matter of justice. “I think about law as justice giving voice to the voiceless, hope to the hopeless. I think about law as justice helping us build a community of trust and a community of caring. That’s really the highest and best purpose of the law,” said Mr. West in the video.
Tony West, who personally donated $25,000, on top of Uber Technologies, Inc.’s $50,000 sponsorship of the event, then joined Mr. Holder on the stage and extended his thanks to his friend and mentor, saying “My onetime boss, my all-the-time brother in the pursuit of justice, thank you for your kind words, thank you for your friendship, and your guidance that you give to me every day.” Mr. West reflected on the truth of his statement, after leaving the Department of Justice in 2014, that “when the history of the Holder Justice Department is written,” history “would judge that period to be a high water mark of greatness because of Eric Holder’s unique and unflagging leadership.”
“I am very mindful on nights like this that I stand on a platform of progress built by others,” said Mr. West, noting that his success was only made possible by his family who came before him. Mr. West shared the inspiring story of his mother-in-law Dr. Shyamala Harris, who immigrated to the U.S. from India in the late 1950s to pursue breast cancer research at UC Berkeley. “When Mother Harris wasn’t making scientific strides in the lab or busy raising her two remarkable daughters as a single mother, Mother Harris was marching, and she was meeting, and she was organizing for civil rights.” Mr. West also credited his father, Franklin West, “whose birth in 1940 to a family of sharecroppers in rural Georgia didn’t hold much of a future that was much different from his family’s past, but who discovered a freedom in education that would allow him to unlock opportunities into which he’d not been born.” Mr. West’s father became the first in his family to go to college, attending Talladega College, an HBCU. “Throughout our lives in both word and countless deeds, dad instilled in us an expectation of service as part of our obligation as citizens. And when I think about the all-too-short life journeys of both Mother Harris and my dad I can’t help but think about how they embody the best of America’s great story,” said Mr. West.
Mr. West went on to explain that being a UDC Law honoree “is so humbling, so special, because you, the UDC Law School community, your teachings, your faculty, your students, your alumni, you, like Mother Harris, like my dad, you embody the best of America’s great story. You remind us that America’s true character calls on each of us to rise above and to reach out. As Bobby Kennedy said on the night before he died fifty years ago today, “We are a great country, an unselfish country, a compassionate country.” And the work this law school makes real in the world reminds us of this basic truth even when our own leaders forget. Indeed, that is when your work is most important. And those moments when we lose our way, and we forget who we truly are. So thank you UDC Law not only for this great honor but for the work you must continue to do, and we must continue to support, the work of practicing law, of promoting justice, of changing lives, because that effort builds platforms of progress on which we all can stand tall.”
A Life of Service
UDC Law’s Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Chair of Public Interest Law Wade Henderson then stepped to the podium to present the second honor of the night, recognizing outgoing Dean Shelley Broderick for her many years of service. Professor Henderson, former CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, shared his first impressions of the “one-of-a-kind” Dean when she recruited him to teach at UDC Law, speaking to “her passion, her crackling energy, and her intensity all combined with her joie de vivre and her good humor.” He praised Dean Broderick for her many years of service to a law school “dedicated to opening the legal profession to underrepresented people and to serving those most in need.”
Dean Broderick joined Professor Henderson on the stage and gave stirring remarks as she reflected on her four decades of service at the law school, saying “leading UDC Law has been the honor of my life.” Dean Broderick was recruited in 1979 to lead the Criminal Defense Clinic at Antioch School of Law, UDC Law’s predecessor, and went on to earn her M.A.T. in clinical legal education from the school. She said, “The legendary Edgar and Jean Cahn hired me at Antioch School of Law on June 9, 1979. When I was hired, Jean told me she was assigning me to the admissions committee and she said, ‘your job is to bring in 150 of the worst troublemakers you can find who want to make social change.’”
She went on to do just that. Indeed, Dean Broderick highlighted in her remarks, above all, the strength of the student body, praising “the personal qualities our graduates bring to the table—grit, resilience, passion for justice, and the ability to relate to and communicate effectively with people in poverty, people in many cases very much like their own families and friends.” She noted that last year, 41% of UDC Law’s graduating class went into public interest and government service, compared to a national average of just 16%. The National Law Journal recently ranked UDC Law No. 2 in the nation for government and public interest job placement.
Ever gracious, Dean Broderick insisted that “UDC Law is no one-man band. It is a brilliant orchestra performing at the highest level and meeting its mission.” She asked the crowd to rally behind her successor and reflected that, contemplating her many happy years serving the cause of UDC Law, “I am filled with gratitude for all of those who have served on our Board, for the University community for its embrasure of the law school, for our students, and for the legal community here in D.C., which has stepped up to support our public law school financially.” Toward the end of her remarks, Dean Broderick invited D.C. Council to renew its 50% match on funds raised and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson indicated his support. With $400,000 raised for the evening, the D.C. Council’s match will add in nearly $100K, bringing the scholarship and fellowship funds raised to $500,000.
D.C. Councilmembers Mary Cheh, Brandon Todd and D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson then took center stage. Councilmember Cheh then presented a resolution recognizing Dean Broderick’s exemplary twenty-year tenure as dean and many contributions to the people of the District, praising her for building an institution that will continue to serve students and communities in need well past her tenure as Dean of UDC Law.
Beverly L. Perry, Senior Advisor to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, then joined the members of the D.C. Council on the stage to congratulate Dean Broderick and present the Mayor’s Executive Proclamation recognizing her service to the city and its residents.
The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC Law) is committed to the public interest, providing more than 100,000 hours of legal services to thousands of D.C. residents each year through its nine legal clinics. With the largest clinical requirement of any U.S. law school, its top-ranked program provides students the opportunity to gain experience in both direct representation and effective community activism and policy advocacy. This commitment has led to a No. 2 ranking by The National Law Journal for government and public interest job placement and No. 8 for Best Clinical Training Program by U.S. News & World Report. The diverse student body at UDC Law boasts significant representation by women, people of color and older students.
Washington, DC—Each year, The Jack and Lovell Olender Foundation recognizes law students and other national and local heroes at an awards ceremony attended by a broad cross-section of the District’s legal and community leaders. This year, on November 29th at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, Mr. Jack H. Olender presented the Earl H. Davis Award to six UDC David A. Clarke School of Law students for their outstanding service on behalf of clients in our clinical program.
This year, Dr. Robert Peter Gale, M.D. was honored with the Peacemaker Award for his lifelong service in international humanitarian crises, from his coordination of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power accident medical relief effort in the Ukraine to his similar efforts to aid the victims of the Japanese Fukushima power station accident in 2011.
Please join us in congratulating UDC Law students Tracy Hillhouse Price, Jason Barros, Oral John, John Blake, Dora Myles and Denisha Jones, each of whom received a $1,000 scholarship.
The DC Court of Appeals has re-appointed UDC Law Dean Shelley Broderick, alum Jonathan Smith, ’84, and three members of the DC School of Law Foundation Board, Sheldon Krantz, Andy Marks and Jon Bouker, to three-year Access to Justice Commission terms.
Dean Broderick said, “I am enormously proud to serve along side of four UDC Law Board members, an alum and other social justice warriors working to make real and measurable progress ending poverty and inequality. Just this month, we helped to ensure that $4.5 million was appropriated by the DC Council to support lawyers fighting eviction on behalf of people living in poverty. This first step toward Civil Gideon will change the lives of low income families for the better.”
UDC David A. Clarke School of Law hosted its first-ever annual Gala, in the University’s new LEED platinum Student Center ballroom on June 1, 2017. The event was a spectacular success – raising nearly half a million dollars for student scholarships and summer public interest fellowships. Former Attorney General Eric Holder, Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson and Ward 3 member Mary Cheh, judges, public interest and major law firm lawyers, alumni, faculty and law students — some 300 strong — came out to honor Leslie Thornton, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Washington Gas, and the Honorable William C. Pryor, Senior Judge, DC Court of Appeals and beloved UDC Law professor for 29 years.
Welcome and School of Law Video
Dean Shelley Broderick led off the evening by thanking the lead Gala sponsor, Washington Gas, and other funders and supporters as well as the 41 members of the event Steering Committee. She then introduced UDC Law‘s mission as depicted in a five-minute video featuring members of the law school community, community leaders and friends.
Eric Holder Takes the Stage
Eric Holder then joined Dean Broderick on the stage. He began by commending the UDC Law clinical model of legal education and the many millions of hours of additional legal services that would be generated if other law schools adopted a similar service requirement of 700 hours per student. Borrowing from Bobby Kennedy’s famous words, he spoke of the “millions of ripples of hope” such service would create, enough to form a powerful “current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance” of justice, much needed particularly “in today’s troubling times of oppression and resistance.”
Mr. Holder then praised Leslie Thornton, who started her career at the DC Public Defender Service under the legendary Charles Ogletree. He observed and marveled at her commitment to service – to the public interest, to diversity, to mentoring – and wondered if she ever slept!
Mr. Holder also introduced a video in which Vernon Jordan, BET’s Debra Lee, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Washington College of Law Professor Angela Davis paid tribute to Ms. Thornton for her storied career and her devotion to serving those less fortunate.
A Surprise Scholarship Gift of $50K from Honoree Leslie Thornton!
Ms. Thornton was visibly moved as she accepted the award from Mr. Holder and Dean Broderick. She described Dean Broderick, another former criminal defense lawyer for many years, as “a sister from another mother” and gave thanks to her family, friends and colleagues in attendance. She then pledged to personally donate fifty thousand dollars for scholarships in honor of the DC Public Defender Service Class of 1983, which itself had contributed $10,000 for scholarships in her honor, and thanked them for coming together, so many years later, and for donating to UDC Law in support of her recognition.
Kind Words of Appreciation from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser
After dinner, Mayor Bowser came bearing gifts – handsome “appreciation” plaques for each honoree. She extolled the importance and virtues of UDC Law, describing how students and graduates help to build the fabric of the DC Community. By way of example, she commended the Dean for her 2016 service in helping to draft a new constitution for the state of New Columbia. She referenced the UDC Law Review’s recent DC Democracy in the Time of Trump Symposium, which brought together District officials, nonprofit organizations, and the media to discuss strategies to protect, defend, and extend democracy under the Trump administration. She spoke of her many experiences as a DC Councilmember, and later as Mayor, with UDC Law students, faculty and alumni, so many of whom are hard at work in all walks of District government life and an integral part of the struggle for full democratic rights. We later learned that the Mayor had such a good time that she looks forward to coming back next year for the Second Annual UDC Law Gala!
Surprises Keep on Coming!
Dean Broderick returned to the stage and, wiping away tears, announced that longtime supporter, DC developer and philanthropist, Michele Hagans, had been so inspired by Ms. Thornton’s pledge that she also pledged $50,000 to fund four additional UDC Law scholarships, in honor of Dean Broderick, with the hope that other supporters would be similarly moved. Ms. Hagans and Dean Broderick later agreed to name one of the scholarships in honor of founding Dean, Bill Robinson.
The Dean also announced that Ms. Thornton had agreed to join the UDC Law’s Foundation Board and that DC Council Chair Phil Mendelson had just let her know the DC Council will, once again, match our fundraising – with the University and School of Law sharing one dollar for every two dollars raised over the next ten months!
Two Fabulous Law Students Share Service Experiences
Dean Broderick then described the UDC Law’s clinical and service-learning programs and introduced rising 3L law students Carmen Diaz Jones and John Blake.
Ms. Jones, who participated in the spring 2017 Service Learning Program, powerfully described an intense interaction she had with a young man named Rossell at a family detention center in Karnes, Texas. Rossell and his mother had fled Honduras after he had been threatened and pressed to join the MS-13 gang. Ms. Jones, herself an immigrant from Honduras, had met Rossell’s mother while helping to prepare her for a “credible fear” asylum interview. Upon hearing of Rossell’s interest in serving in the U.S. military, Ms. Jones told him of her own U.S. military and police service, giving him hope that he too could one day so serve. In the process of sharing a glimpse of the American Dream, she deepened her own confidence and commitment to serve others.
Law student John Blake described in detail some of his own Housing Clinic work on behalf of tenants whose right to organize and right to adequate notice of eviction had been routinely violated. Referencing his own upbringing in public housing, he challenged those in attendance to work with the UDC Law to end such abuses.
Broderick and Alum James King Introduce Judge Pryor
Dean Broderick and alum James King then shared an introduction of Judge Pryor. The Dean, who in 1988 served as Administrator of the then-DC School of Law, described interviewing the Judge for a faculty position just after he stepped down as Chief Judge of the DC Court of Appeals. The interview took place during the chaos of building renovations. Judge Pryor explained his desire to teach at the new public school where students who could not otherwise afford to attend would have the chance for a legal education. It was then, the Dean reported that, she “fell in love” with him (apologizing to the Judge’s wife Elaine seated nearby).
Dean Broderick then introduced James King. She told the crowd that after being signed by the Cleveland Browns, Mr. King had been arrested in connection with a college bar fight and charged with second degree murder and manslaughter. While incarcerated pre-trial, his jailer gave him an LSAT preparation book and his focus changed from football to justice. Mr. King described his countless tutoring sessions with Judge/Professor Pryor whose refrain was “this is easy.” Ultimately, this built his confidence and helped him and countless other students to succeed in law school. Mr. King, who is now 14 and 0 as a trial lawyer at the DC Public Defender Service, teased the judge, a former prosecutor, that thanks to his training, the government had yet to beat him!
A Most Magical Night
It was a magical night. Leslie Thornton emailed the dean the next day saying,
“I’ve gotten the most incredible feedback you could possibly hope for. Literally scores of people have reached out about the special energy and feel in the room. There is a really interesting and clear theme – that folks felt like they’d never been to an event like that where there was so much genuine kindness, and purity and importance of purpose, and a very special energy. Shelley – you and I have the privilege of really knowing and understanding what that thing is – I’m so glad it came across so clearly.”
With nearly $400K raised for the evening, the D.C. Council’s match will add in nearly $100K, bringing the scholarship and fellowship funds raised to nearly $500K! 52 alumni donated or helped to orchestrate the donations for more than $57,000 of those dollars, many specifically in honor of Judge Pryor. Dean Broderick personally contributed at the Advocate for Change ($5,000) level and the UDC Law faculty also kicked in at the Partner for Change ($2,500) level.
Comments from Alumni
Miguel Santiago, a 1981 Antioch School of Law grad, traveled from the Bronx to attend the Gala said, “What an awesome event! It is so inspiring to see, nearly 40 years after I started at Antioch, that we remain the vanguard of clinical law schools. Those who haven’t taken a close look at this wonderful institution lately – you have to visit it, see it for yourself. You’ll be amazed and you will want to find a way to contribute and serve.”
Perhaps our outgoing Student Bar Association President Jonathan Newton summed it up best when he wrote afterward, “Bravo! The Gala was OUTSTANDING!!! It instantly created a tradition I hope will last forever. I’m a broke man right now, but I’ll be making a donation on my first paycheck!”
Thanks to all those in attendance and all our donors – and “hats off” to our new development director Mizue Suito, development consultant David Simmons, and to Dean Shelley Broderick for one of the best first Gala events ever seen in this town!
On May 1, 2017, the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs presented a Certificate of Appreciation to UDC David a Clarke School of Law for its advocacy in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in matters related to guardianships for patients at the Washington, DC VA Medical Center during 2016 – 2017.
The advocacy cited was provided by students in Professor Faith Mullen’s General Practice Clinic who worked with VA social workers and physicians to obtain court-appointed guardians for incapacitated veterans. Professor Mullen thanked the students in attendance for their willingness to fearlessly jump in to represent their clients in these cases. Students who handled the cases expressed appreciation for the trust the clients placed in their litigation and problem solving abilities and for the opportunity to do this important work.
In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs presented Professor Mullen with a letter of recognition signed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. (see photo of letter, below.)
Chief Justice Robert’s letter reads:
“In Recognition of Professor Faith Mullen and Her Students at the University of the District of Columbia David Clarke School of Law
Thank you for this opportunity to share my appreciation for the outstanding work of Professor Faith Mullen and her students at the University of the District of Columbia David Clark School of Law on behalf of this country’s veterans.
By volunteering to help obtain guardians for incapacitated veterans who lack family or resources to appear in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Professor Mullen and her students have demonstrated their commitment to the legal profession and to the duty we all share to engage in public service.
It is fitting that we honor them at today’s ceremony. I join in congratulating the Professor and her students for their pro bono work.”
Washington, DC—Thanks to the wonderful generosity of renowned D.C. malpractice attorney Jack H. Olender, the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law is proud to report a significant expansion in the capacity of both its Immigration and Human Rights Clinic and its Legislation Clinic to serve low-income people and the public interest.
Long a leader in the field of medical malpractice and a fixture, with his late wife Lovell, on the D.C. and national legal, social justice and philanthropic scenes, Mr. Olender has for decades been a fierce advocate for and supporter of the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law. Mr. Olender’s support of the District’s public law school has included the provision of annual recognition – and scholarships – to six top UDC Law clinic students at his Olender Foundation annual Awards Gala as well as significant additional annual financial contributions to the School of Law’s scholarship funds. In addition, years ago, Mr. Olender endowed a scholarship fund in memory of Antioch School of Law graduate Gary Freeman, ’76, whose untimely death occurred during his tenure as an attorney in Mr. Olender’s firm.
Mr. Olender’s support, however, has been more than solely financial – in addition to previously serving on the University of the District of Columbia’s Board, he has devoted decades of service on the DC School of Law Foundation’s Board and, for many years, has hosted Board meetings at his law firm, Olender and Associates, and attended numerous School of Law events. Furthermore, Mr. Olender has placed his faith in two additional School of Law alumni, attorneys Lesley Zork, ’88, and Joshua Basile, ’13, who currently work for his elite law firm.
This fall, as a result of a transformative donation by the Jack and Lovell Olender Foundation, the School of Law has added outstanding professors in two clinics, and has conferred the title of “Jack and Lovell Olender Director” upon the directors of each clinic. Thanks to the Olender Foundation’s support, both clinics will be able to expand the breadth and depth of their service and training.
Associate Professor Marcy Karin, the Jack and Lovell Olender Director of the Legislation Clinic at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, is the second newly funded professor. Professor Karin will be ably assisted by another outstanding young lawyer, Clinical Instructor Monica Bhattacharya. In addition, Professor Laurie Morin will direct her new Gender Justice Project in collaboration with the Legislation Clinic.
The Immigration and Human Rights Clinic
The Immigration and Human Rights Clinic has transitioned from a focus on the nexus between criminal and immigration law, to a focus on representing asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution. Professor Lindsay M. Harris joined the clinic this academic year after a year with the American Immigration Council working on national efforts to end the detention of immigrant children and their mothers in two large detention centers in Texas. Before that, she taught in the asylum clinic at Georgetown for two years, and also developed and taught an asylum law course at George Mason School of Law. Her experience meshes well with recent Clinic work representing mothers and children released from these detention centers and, in particular, with the work of Olender Clinic Director Kristina M. Campbell who has led two service-learning trips during Spring Break and the summer to Dilley and Karnes City, Texas. In Texas, UDC Law students reported “life-changing” experiences through on-the-ground intensive lawyering work, providing immediate assistance to detained families.
One highlight of the fall semester featured third year students, Leslie Benjamin and Jessica Christy who won their first trial. Under the supervision of Professor Campbell, the students prepared their clients, a mother and daughter detained in Texas, drafted declarations and filed a legal brief arguing for asylum relief. The team then traveled to Dallas where they worked with their clients through the weekend in advance of the Monday trial. As a result of their efforts, their clients, who had been unable to find pro bono representation in Texas, were freed from detention.
During the spring semester, Professor Harris, with an able assist from Professor Campbell, spearheaded a day-long conference, held on February 3, 2017, “Chasing Liberty: The Detention of Central American Families in the United States,” bringing together scholars, advocates and law students to explore how to end family detention practices and effectively address post-release needs for asylum-seekers. This conference pushed the national conversation on these issues forward at a critical time as the new Trump Administration implements its aggressive and confusing new agenda on immigration policy.
Professor Campbell is planning, with Professor Harris’ support, to lead a third trip to family detention centers with ten students during Spring Break 2017 as part of the School of Law ’s Service-Learning Program.
The Legislation Clinic
Under the leadership of Professor Marcy Karin, Jack and Lovell Olender Director of the Legislation Clinic, the clinic has been redesigned to offer a seven-credit experiential learning opportunity that combines client representation and the study of legislative lawyering.
The Clinic’s mission is two-fold:
1) To provide UDC Law students with the training, supervision, and field experience necessary to become effective and reflective lawyers.
2) To undertake projects advancing the public interest and providing quality representation to organizations in the District in need of legislative lawyering services.
During the fall semester students worked on policy projects for non-profit and community organizations that are working to lift vulnerable populations out of poverty with improved economic security and workplace protections as well as access to other civil rights. The inaugural class of the redesigned Legislation Clinic undertook a wide range of legislative lawyering work on both the local and national level.
On behalf of the Network for Victim Recovery of DC, students researched methods of reimbursement for expenses related to crimes committed in the District. Clinic students also volunteered with the Lawyers’ Committee’s Election Protection program, assisting callers in four states on a range of questions related to the voting process, including registration, early voting, problems with polling locations and machines, access to interpreters and voting assistants, provisional ballots, and a chilling amount of potential voter intimidation. These calls primarily dealt with state laws interpreting the federal right to vote.
The Clinic successfully represented BRAWS (Bringing Resources to Aid Women’s Shelters) in local efforts to support the repeal of the “tampon tax.” On November 15th, the D.C. Council passed Bill 21-696, the Feminine Hygiene and Diapers Sales Tax Exemption Amendment Act of 2016, which was signed into law by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on December 8th. Earlier in the semester, students prepared oral and written testimony for a D.C. Council Committee on Finance and Revenue. Professor Karin and clinic students testified in front of the D.C. Council and two students, Shannon Cooper and Aysha Iqbal, were featured on WJLA TV. Students engaged with the media, developed a social media campaign in support of the testimony and broader efforts, and prepared materials for a grassroots outreach campaign in the DMV area to support the repeal of the “tampon tax” in D.C. and Virginia.
On the national level, the Legislation Clinic is working with disability rights advocates to improve enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Originally enacted in 1990, the ADA is a comprehensive civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of “disability” in private employment, places of public accommodation, and government benefits and services. Despite the ADA Amendments Act’s goal of ensuring broad coverage for access to these protections, some confusion remains over the application of the revised definition of disability, which causes a threshold definitional issue for many individuals seeking to use the ADA’s protections. The Clinic is working with a team of advocates to educate individuals with disabilities and their counsel regarding the ADA’s amended definition of disability.
The Legislation Clinic is also working with Young Invincibles, a national organization working to elevate the voices of millennials into the national policy conversation and to engage them on the most pressing issues facing their generation, such as higher education, jobs, and health care. The Young Invincibles’ student attorney team is preparing an issue brief on the state of internships in 21st-century America, including a survey of relevant labor standards, other laws and public policy.
Finally, on behalf of clinic clients while working on this robust docket, students have participated in coalition meetings, calls, and events with a broad range of D.C. stakeholders. Students have been on the phone or in the room with members and staff of the D.C. Council and staff of both Houses of Congress, the White House Council on Women and Girls, the former First Lady’s Office, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, among others.
Gender Justice Project
Beginning in January of 2017, Professor Laurie Morin is developing and coordinating the Gender Justice Project in collaboration with the Legislation Clinic to bring together students, professors, and activists to find multi-disciplinary solutions to local and global problems at the intersection of gender, sexual orientation, race, and economic status. The Project will sponsor courses, conferences, round-tables, and other events to facilitate dialogue and action on these issues.
The Project and Clinic will work with non-profit organizations and community groups to combat gender inequities using a wide array of strategies, including public policy development, legislative drafting, lobbying, community organizing and non- violent protest, public education, media outreach, and impact litigation. The Project will also partner with other law school clinics on cases and issues of mutual interest.
Professor Morin is also co-founder of the School of Law’s Service-Learning Program, in which faculty members and students travel together to parts of the country that need legal assistance to recover from natural and man-made disasters. She has accompanied students on service- learning trips to New Orleans to provide services to survivors of Hurricane Katrina; Mississippi to provide legal services in the wake of the BP oil spill; and Texas to assist women and children refugees from Central America who were detained at the Karnes Detention Center.
Henderson expressed areas he hopes are examined with scrutiny during Sen. Sessions’ nomination hearings.
“What I’d like to see Senator Sessions asked are his views about the Voting Rights Act, about wrongful prosecutions […], about problems with voter ID today, about problems with efforts to move polling places in states like Alabama, his very own state,” Henderson said.
Sen. Sessions has a long, sordid voting record that leaves many questioning his ability to lead the nation’s legal arm.
“I’d like to see him asked whether he can enforce statutes over which he has a hostility long established,” Henderson said. “For example, he has opposed the Violence Against Women Act, he has opposed the passage of the The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, he has opposed other statutes that he is responsible now for enforcing. We’d like to see questions asked about that.”
Washington, DC—Each year, The Jack and Lovell Olender Foundation recognizes law students and other national and local heroes at an annual awards ceremony at the Kennedy Center. This year, Mr. Jack H. Olender will present the Earl H. Davis Award to six UDC David A. Clarke School of Law students for their outstanding service on behalf of clients in our clinical program. Please join us in congratulating these students.
Perfecta Baffer served as a student attorney in the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law General Practice Clinic. With her partner, Perfecta advised an HIV-positive client about an insurance buyout and the possible implications of omitting the client’s health status froman insurance company; researched custody arguments for a single mother; advised a mother on the implications of a recent arrest on a pending court issue; drafted and delivered Durable Power of Attorney, Last Will and Testament, and Healthcare Directives to four senior citizens; wrote a Student Loan Discharge Memo for a client; and wrote a Transfer on Death Deed Memo for Legal Counsel for the Elderly, explaining the requirements, revocation provisions, effects on the parties, property distribution provisions and advantages/disadvantages of the deed under D.C. law. Perfecta also assisted nine other persons with intakes and referrals to other legal aid organizations. Perfecta is a licensed civil engineer, a part-time evening student, military wife and mother of nine children.
Erika Cummins served as a student attorney in the Community Development Law Clinic, where she represented limited equity cooperatives and non-profit organizations. Erika represented the board of a limited equity cooperative that had previously acquired their building in partnership with the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), but lost necessary developmental funding because of the economic downturn in 2008. As the lead writer of a comment to the DHCD, Erika argued that the department give preference and additional consideration to her client, and other similarly situated limited equity cooperatives in good standing, when awarding developmental funding to affordable housing projects. Less than a month later, when the new request for proposals for affordable housing projects was announced, it was clear that the DHCD implemented Erika’s recommendations. Erika also drafted new sections to the cooperative’s by-laws and attended cooperative board meetings to discuss the new sections before they were ultimately passed by the membership. She also drafted provisions for a resolution for payment and a separate forbearance plan to avoid termination of low-income residents delinquent in their carrying charges; and advised non-profit clients on copyright protection of their literary works and possible risks to their trademark registration. Erika has served on the boards of the Student Bar Association and the Sports and Entertainment Student Lawyers Association, and is currently the Vice President of the Christian Law Society.
Jessica Christy served as a student attorney in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic in the spring of 2016 and continued as an Equal Justice America Fellow during the summer. As a student attorney, Jessica and her partner represented a legal permanent resident, a single mother of three US citizen children, in removal proceedings. After reviewing Jessica and her partner’s 45-page brief and over 90 exhibits, the government conceded the case and cancelled their client’s removal proceedings. Jessica also participated in UDC David A. Clarke School of Law service learning program, where she provided pro bono legal services to women and children asylum seekers detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center and helped prevent two families from being removed to very dangerous conditions in their countries of origin. As a Fellow, Jessica managed the entire clinic docket and provided various immigration-related pro bono services to low-income residents in the DC-area, and represented a client and her daughter in a merits hearing in Dallas, Texas. Jessica serves as the Vice-President of the Student Bar Association, Managing Editor for the UDC Law Review, President of the Environmental Law Society, and Co-President of the American Constitution Society. She is also a Dean’s Fellow, an Advocate for Justice Scholarship recipient, and a wife and mother of three.
Jessica “JJ” Galvan served as a Student Attorney in the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic, where she represented low-income elderly residents of a D.C. nursing home in a Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) and housing discrimination lawsuit to prohibit the sale of their home to a prestigious private school. JJ advocated for the residents in many forums, including injunction proceedings, a public solutions session hosted by UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, a D.C. Council Candidates’ Forum hosted by the DC Tenants’ Advocacy Coalition, and meetings with a D.C. Council member, the D.C. Long-term Care Ombudsman, and the D.C. Attorney General’s office. In addition to this work, JJ, and her clinic partner, successfully obtained a judgment for a tenant against the landlord for an illegal rent increase. JJ is Associate Editor of Law Review, Recording Secretary of the Student Bar Association, and a member of the Cahn Chapter of the Phi Alpha Delta Law fraternity. She also sings with the Samaritan Singers, a community based choir whose mission is to raise awareness of homelessness in the District.
Thomas F. “Matthews” IV served as a student attorney in the Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic, where he zealously advocated for his client’s right to a free, appropriate education. Matthews’ worked tirelessly to secure free transportation to and from a private school suited to meet his client’s special education needs; transition services – job training – for his client to prepare for entry into the work force upon completion of school; and a private tutor for supplemental educational support for his client. In addition to his clinic work, Matthews has served as a Teaching Assistant to Judge Milton Lee; a Researcher Assistant to Professor Andrew Ferguson, where he researched the application of the Fourth Amendment in minority communities; and a volunteer with the Clemency Project 2014, working to secure the early release of non-violent criminal offenders of drug-related offenses. Matthews has been elected to the Student Bar Association for the past three years, is an Associate Editor of the UDC Law Review, and was recently re-appointed as the student liaison to the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense. He is also a Dean’s Fellow, and a UDC David A. Clarke School of Law Continuing Merit Scholarship recipient for demonstrating academic excellence and commitment to service.
Michael Wilk served as a student attorney in the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, where he represented primarily immigrant clients before the IRS for two semesters. Michael successfully settled two cases before their approaching tax court dates, assisted a family who was the victim of tax fraud, and helped another family who had been wrongly taxed due to immigration status. All of his clients either had their tax bills lowered or received refunds from the IRS. Michael also served as a student attorney in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, where he prepared asylum cases and appeared in immigration court for a mother and daughter who had been targeted by gangs in Central America, and a survivor of Rwandan genocide. In addition to attending law school in the evenings, Michael works in an immigration law practice, where he assists with employment immigration and processing issues at U.S. land borders. Michael is a Student Member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and is a frequent volunteer with local immigrant rights organizations and free legal clinics. Michael is a Dean’s Fellow, was awarded the Cafritz Foundation Scholarship, received a UDC David A. Clarke School of Law Continuing Scholars Award for academic achievement, and is a Student Member of the UDC Law Career and Professional Development Committee.
Senator Booker discussed the 2016 Election, voter suppression, the rhetoric unleashed by Donald Trump’s candidacy, Senator Booker’s origins and original inspiration to go into politics.
The conversation, which he held with Wade Henderson, Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. Chair of Public Interest Law at UDC-DCSL and President and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund, left the several-hundred in the audience feeling rejuvenated and inspired.
“If you’re frustrated with society, it’s not time to check out. By you checking out, you are serving the interests of those people who are benefiting from your lack of turnout and playing right into the trap they’re setting for folks in America because they’re looking for less voter turnout,” Senator Booker said.
Each year, one or more leading members of the bench or the bar address(es) the School of Law community, students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, on a law-related topic of interest. Some of the nation’s most respected civil rights and other public interest, public policy or public service attorneys, as well as the Attorney General and two sitting US Supreme Court Justices have honored us with their participation.