A Supreme Honor
GW Law Alumni to Clerk for Justices Alito, Kennedy
Mark Taticchi, JD '10
The GW Law community congratulates Mark Taticchi, JD '10, and Ryan Watson, JD '07, who recently were hired to serve as U.S. Supreme Court clerks for the October 2012 term. Mr. Taticchi will clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Mr. Watson will clerk for Justice Samuel Alito. Both join the distinguished ranks of alumni and faculty who have clerked for Supreme Court justices over the years.
"Clerking at the U.S. Supreme Court is obviously an extraordinary opportunity to be part of law in action, and I am thrilled that two of our graduates will be clerking the same year," says Dean Paul Schiff Berman, who himself clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "These two clerkships are part of GW's overall strategy to help our students secure ever more clerkships around the country, in both state and federal courts and at either the trial or appellate level. I believe that there is no better experience for a young lawyer, and we are committed to going all-out to support our graduates seeking this path."
Both alumni expressed gratitude and excitement about their future work.
"I am honored by the opportunity to serve Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court, and the federal judiciary this coming year. That's really what I'm most looking forward to—the chance to work with and learn from some of the most brilliant and insightful legal thinkers in the country, especially Justice Kennedy and my co-clerks," Mr. Taticchi says.
Mr. Taticchi says his GW Law education helped prepare him for his current success as an associate with Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., and added that the support of faculty and staff helped him secure this prestigious clerkship.
"A number of faculty, including Jack Friedenthal and Josh Schwartz, wrote letters of recommendation on my behalf. Professors Greg Maggs and Renée Lettow Lerner reached out to Justice Kennedy personally. Professor Orin Kerr did a mock interview to help me prepare for the interview itself. And most instrumental was Professor Brad Clark. He and the Clerkship Committee guided the entire process, coordinating the faculty's efforts, and doing a great deal more that I'll probably never realize," Mr. Taticchi says. "The quality of the faculty and their dedication to their students is what drew me to GW in the first place. They have been even more wonderful and supportive than I could have hoped for."
Mr. Watson is an associate in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's Washington, D.C., office and has continued to engage with GW Law as an adjunct faculty member for the Scholarly Writing Program. He said he is excited about the privilege of clerking for Justice Alito.
Ryan Watson, JD '07
"I am looking forward to discussing and analyzing the cases with Justice Alito prior to oral argument," Mr. Watson says, noting that he also welcomes the chance to read briefs drafted by attorneys at the top of their profession. "That will be a treat, and I expect that my own analytical and writing skills will improve as a result of my exposure to such high-caliber briefs."
Mr. Watson credited his law school experience—particularly time spent as an editor and later as an adjunct faculty collaborator with the Law Review—as instrumental to helping him reach this achievement. He also expressed gratitude to the faculty and staff members who assisted him in the clerkship application process.
"Professors Brad Clark and Joshua Schwartz provided invaluable guidance throughout the process of applying for a Supreme Court clerkship. Not only were they excellent recommenders, they were also trusted advisers whose counsel I deeply appreciate. Their dedication far surpasses anything I could have expected," he says.
With these two new clerkships, six GW alumni will have clerked at the Supreme Court since Chief Justice John G. Roberts joined the court in 2005. Along with Mr. Taticchi and Mr. Watson, they are: Jonathan Bond, JD '08, who clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia in 2009; Chantal Febus, JD '02, who clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas in 2005; Jennifer Mascott, JD '06, who clerked for Justice Thomas in 2008; and Ann O'Connell, JD '04, who clerked for Chief Justice Roberts in 2005.
"The GW community is extremely proud that our alumni continue to land Supreme Court clerkships," says Professor Clark. "This is a testament both to the quality of GW students and to the efforts of our faculty who take the time to mentor and support outstanding applicants. GW has always been committed to helping our students obtain clerkships at all levels and is one of the few schools that has a dedicated Clerkship Office with a full-time director to support students. As chair of the Clerkship Committee, I am particularly excited that Justice Alito and Justice Kennedy have now joined Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Scalia, and Justice Thomas in hiring clerks from GW in recent years."
Reinventing GW Law
Dean Berman Launches Targeted Strategic Planning Committees
GW Law administrators and faculty members are constantly seeking student feedback about curriculum and other key issues. Here, Dean Paul Schiff Berman (above) and Professor Roger Fairfax (below) consult with students.
Dean Paul Schiff Berman is encouraging the entire GW Law community to get involved in the process of reinvention. "Given that we are beginning a new deanship, we have an opportunity to think strategically and creatively about turning what is already a great law school into a 21st century innovator in legal education," he says.
To that end, Dean Berman has established three targeted strategic planning committees to focus on possible initiatives. "With a new dean, there is an opportunity to examine ourselves in a time of change," says Naomi Cahn, the John Theodore Fey Research Professor of Law and chair of the Committee on Law School Identity and Communication.
Each committee will focus on a key characteristic of the school—law school identity, curricular innovation, and student well-being and professional development—and propose enhancements, which collectively will help transform the school, make it more attractive to applicants, and improve all phases of the student experience. Among other initiatives, Dean Berman is building a comprehensive student mentoring and alumni networking program.
"We will connect students to the real world of law and policy practice from day one and then help them build stronger ties with alumni in order to help launch their careers," he says. The dean expects this program, along with a number of another initiatives, to be launched by the fall of 2012.
Dynamic Professional Development
The ability of students to engage with the broader legal community is critical and the Committee on Student Well-Being and Professional Development will endeavor to build new structures to help them do so. Its chair, Professor Todd Peterson, hopes to modify the structure of the school's career advisory process to provide students with greater direction. "Virtually no law school helps people figure out where they want to go and what they want to do; we will assist them with that intrinsic motivation," he says.
Dean Paul Schiff Berman (center) with GW Law faculty and staff.
He notes that since law students often arrive without a sense of direction, their only focus tends to be on grades and securing coveted positions on law reviews or the moot court board. "That makes them much more prone to stress and depression," he says. Professor Peterson says that students need a sense of relatedness to their peers, a sense of autonomy, and a greater feeling of competence in their ability so that they have greater control over their destiny.
"We want to provide different ways of advising students and a huge part of this program has to be the involvement of alumni in giving advice to students about the career paths they have chosen," he adds.
The committee is studying successful models at Vanderbilt University Medical School and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business in an effort to combine a shift in structure with a series of initiatives to enhance physical and emotional wellness. "The dean has been extremely supportive of this endeavor and we are confident we will create something that will be a major benefit to our students," Professor Peterson says. "In fact, I think GW Law is going to be the national leader in this area."
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Christopher Bracey is helping to coordinate curriculum discussions and changes.
Innovation in the Classroom
National leadership often starts with bold steps locally, which is why the Committee on Curricular and Pedagogic Innovation is focusing on reshaping law school to improve the student experience, as well as professional well-being. "We are looking at ways in which we can provide experiences for our students that will serve them when they leave GW," says Karen Brown, the Donald Phillip Rothschild Research Professor of Law and committee chair. "We want to create a platform that will launch them into their careers."
Committee members are studying trends in legal education and how to best transform the delivery of education at GW to better serve the interest of its law students. For instance, they are considering proposals to provide an experiential learning component in the first year, rather than simply clinical experience in the second. As one example, a component of the first-year class experience could allow students to supplement their course work by assisting pro bono lawyers in court to develop their client relations skills and better understand the practical application of their academic focus. Shorter courses that bridge substantive scholarship with practical application and increasing the number of business school-like case studies are also under consideration.
"We are rethinking on a larger scale," says Professor Brown, noting that the school has started the process by guaranteeing all first-year students at least one class of 30 students or fewer. "We are hoping to improve the quality of the educational experience and make it relevant for the law student of today."
That relevance is an essential factor in this initiative. Renowned for her work in family law, feminist jurisprudence, and reproductive technology, Professor Cahn and the Committee on Law School Identity and Communication are considering what makes GW Law distinctive, as well as how to differentiate it further from other top law schools. "One clear strength is that this is a school of engagement with real world challenges," she says. "Our students take part in law in action on a daily basis through courses, externships, and their interaction with visitors," she adds.
The c ommittee members will continue to work on how to showcase the strengths of a faculty that "produces scholarship at the highest levels grounded in real world challenges" and a network of alumni that is active throughout the legal profession and across the globe. The committee is also evaluating programs within the Law School and developing a student survey to identify the institution's unique characteristics.
Ultimately, one result from this campaign is that "it will help employers appropriately value the experience and education that our students receive at GW," says Professor Cahn. "I think students will get a great deal out of this strategic planning process."
Serving the D.C. Community
Incoming GW Law students volunteered their time to help spruce up D.C.'s Ballou High School in August.
GW Law students rolled up their sleeves and spent a day beautifying Washington's Ballou High School in August for the Law School's second annual Public Interest Service Day. Some 75 incoming law students participated in the community service event—building library furniture, installing an electronic ID system in the school's library books, cleaning the campus, and landscaping the grounds.
The service project was part of a two-day pre-orientation program created to expose new students to the realities of practice and life after law school. As part of the pre-orientation program, students also visited D.C. Superior Court, the Office of Administrative Hearings, the Arlington County Detention Center, and the Youth Services Center to learn more about the inner workings of courts and agencies. The 1Ls got a chance to meet one another as well as Dean Paul Schiff Berman, Lerner Family Associate Dean Alan Morrison, Assistant Dean David Johnson, and upper-level students.
Ballou High School is named for Dr. Frank Washington Ballou, superintendent of the D.C. Public Schools from 1920 to 1943, who was the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the George Washington University.
Sophia Sim takes the helm as admissions dean
While attending Georgetown Law School in the early 1990s, Sophia Sim, GW Law's new associate dean for admissions and financial aid, took a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, a common questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences, and it revealed that she was destined to serve in higher education. Almost two decades later, the test is still spot on.
Jessica McConnell Burt
She launched her career as in-house counsel at the University of Maryland in College Park, where she rose to become a director in the academic affairs division. Her reputation at Maryland prompted the dean of admissions at Georgetown University Law Center to invite her to join the administration as an associate director of admissions. She eagerly pursued the challenge, enticed by the fact that Georgetown had the nation's largest law school applicant pool and evaluated candidates for JD, LLM, and SJD programs.
She spent 14 years at Georgetown Law, rising to become the director of admissions in 2000 at the beginning of a period of transition from paper to technology-centric operations at many academic institutions. "Technology allowed us to see candidates more holistically and enabled us to focus on post-admission recruiting," says Associate Dean Sim.
At Georgetown, she presided over a period of high applicant growth, including for the LLM program. "The Internet and globalization fueled this shift," she says, noting that foreign attorneys want U.S. experience and that, in certain disciplines, an LLM is seen as a prerequisite. In fact, she spoke on pre-legal education and admission to the globalized law school at the American Association of Law Schools 2003 annual conference.
Her move to GW offers her an opportunity to combine her admissions experience with key insights into financial aid. She is also eager to join a dean whose outlook for legal education aligns with her own. "Dean Berman's vision is to create personal pathways for students to help them achieve the goals and careers that they want," she says. "I think the school is on the threshold of changing, given how open he is to new ideas and doing things differently."
In executing the dean's innovative approach, she is transforming the admissions and financial aid operations to a paperless structure. Her approach will be to look more holistically at the applications and contributions that particular individuals can make to their class qualitatively and not just quantitatively. She wants to instill a culture that assesses potential and unusual contributions.
For instance, she recently considered the application of a non-traditional student who spent many years as a successful entrepreneur, but who had grades and LSAT scores outside of the school's mean. She also reviewed the candidacy of an individual with a unique history of public service. "I look for potential and for those who will enhance the reputation of GW Law," she says. "We want a diverse student body that is as collaborative as possible, with an eye toward creating a more dynamic alumni network."
In fact, with that network in mind, the school is beginning to pilot an alumni interview process that will give borderline candidates a chance to meet with a GW Law graduate in person (or in some cases, via video), who will try to provide a more direct opinion of his or her promise. "We will likely conduct about 200 of these interviews this year; alumni input could tip an applicant over the edge," says Associate Dean Sim. Her team has partnered with the alumni office for this initiative and the dean is creating an alumni mentorship program for those already admitted. "The idea is to involve more alumni to identify more of the personal qualities of prospective students," she adds.
The school is also planning to change some post-admission recruiting techniques by supplementing mailings with academic e-mails based on specializations, creating a team of current students to support direct correspondence, social media communications, and Preview Day, and actively visiting undergraduate campuses to conduct interviews.
Associate Dean Sim, who grew up in Georgia, tells her daughters, ages 6 and 8, that she works at a school and helps to decide who gets to attend. Her goal, however, is to shape the destiny of those affected by that decision. "I would like to bring in a class that enhances GW's future."
Dodd-Frank: On Course or Off Track?
Sheila Bair, Simon Johnson keynote third annual C-LEAF symposium
Simon Johnson delivered the Manuel F. Cohen Memorial Lecture, an endowed lecture series established in 1979 as a living memorial to Manny Cohen, a leader in the field of securities law who taught at the Law School for nearly two decades.
Photos by Chris Flynn
The Hon. Sheila C. Bair, former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), and Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and co-author of the best-selling book 13 Bankers, anchored a diverse array of perspectives on the implementation and impact of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act at a full-day financial regulatory reform symposium at GW in the fall.
The October event, titled "Dodd-Frank's Future Direction: On Course or Off Track?" was presented by GW's Center for Law, Economics & Finance (C-LEAF).
In her keynote address, Ms. Bair, who led the FDIC from 2006 to 2011 and is currently a senior adviser at Pew Charitable Trusts, offered nuanced praise of Dodd-Frank.
"I do think Dodd-Frank is a big law and it needs to be big," she said. "There were a lot of things that needed to be fixed. On the other hand, regulation is already subject to political pushback and pressure."
She was candid, too, on the unprecedented nature of the financial crisis. "We really were flying blind," she said, adding, "I felt like I had one arm tied behind my back."
Describing ending the doctrine of too-big-to-fail as her "signature issue" and comparing future bailouts to "feeding the beast," Ms. Bair also commended Dodd-Frank's usefulness in simplifying the "over-litigated process" of bankruptcy.
Arthur E. Wilmarth Jr., executive director of C-LEAF, thanks Sheila C. Bair at the conclusion of her keynote address.
But she did not shy away from critiquing Dodd-Frank, particularly its leverage ratio requirements. Ms. Bair famously fought for an international leverage ratio, for which, she says, "I got raked over the coals…But you just have to keep fighting."
Simon Johnson, who famously said, "We have done nothing to prevent another financial crisis," offered a more critical view of the legislation in his Manuel F. Cohen Memorial Lecture, named in honor of the former SEC chairman and adjunct faculty member at GW Law.
His concerns included shocks in the European system—which he attributed to a conception of risk "at odds with the historical record" and the lack of cross-border resolution authority in Dodd-Frank. Mr. Johnson, who now serves as the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also pointed to the persistence of the "too big to fail" mentality, asking the audience to raise their hands if they thought Goldman Sachs could fail. No hands went up.
He also doubted much would change in the wake of Dodd-Frank. "The banks are going to stay too big to fail, and we'll have to live with the consequences."
Event organizer and chair of C-LEAF's Advisory Board John Buchman (left) co-moderates the panel "The FDIC After Dodd-Frank: Not Your Father's Deposit Insurer." Participants (left to right) were: John L. Douglas, partner, Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP; Michael H. Krimminger, general counsel, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.; Sara A. Kelsey, counsel, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP; and co-moderator Chip MacDonald, partner, Jones Day.
In contrast to Ms. Bair's address, his perspective was stark. "The banks will literally ruin you, fiscally—unless you stop them," he said, adding that the solutions were growing increasingly difficult.
The symposium also included two panel discussions, one on housing finance and one on the FDIC after Dodd-Frank, the latter of which reflected a blend of Ms. Bair's qualified optimism and Mr. Johnson's criticism.
Panel participant Michael H. Krimminger, general counsel for the FDIC—whose fellow panelists included John Douglas, a partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell, and Sara Kelsey, counsel at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr—echoed Mr. Johnson's uncertainties about the European markets. "There are certainly some storm clouds looming," he said, but the FDIC "proved its worth" in the financial crisis.
Arthur E. Wilmarth Jr., the executive director of C-LEAF, praised the "interdisciplinary" forum for its diversity in panelists and speakers, who included "practitioners, academics, and [members of] the public sector."
As a testament to the uncertain road ahead for Dodd-Frank, Professor Wilmarth pointed out that he, Sheila Bair, and Simon Johnson all spoke before a Senate subcommittee hearing in December on the regulation of complex financial institutions.
A Strong Partnership
In December, the George Washington University Law School and the District of Columbia Office of the Attorney General announced an exciting new fellowship program for recent GW Law graduates.
The Attorney General's office will select five recent GW Law alumni to work on D.C. legal issues for a year in one of the office's divisions: child support services, civil litigation, commercial, family services, health and human services, legal counsel (for the mayor's office and administrative agencies), personnel, labor and employment, public safety, support services, and the Office of the Solicitor General.
"GW Law is committed to creating pathways for students that bridge the gap from law school to law practice," said GW Law Dean Paul Schiff Berman. "This program offers graduates important experience while providing needed legal services to the world—a perfect synergy."
The program was set up in response to several concerns, including the District's need for more lawyers to assist in representing its interests, and the enthusiasm among leaders of the legal profession and educators in promoting public interest legal work.
Mayor Vincent C. Gray said, "I commend the university for its participation in this exciting new program that will provide significant benefit to the people of the District. I hope this fellowship program can serve as a model for how all our city's great universities partner with the District to advance the common good."
Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan added that the program "will provide significant benefits to the District's legal services as well as excellent practical experience for new lawyers."
The fellowships are named in honor of Charles (Chuck) F. C. Ruff, who served as the District of Columbia corporation counsel (now known as attorney general), from 1995 to 1997. Mr. Ruff also served as the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and taught at area law schools. After his service as corporation counsel, he served as White House counsel to President Bill Clinton. Mr. Ruff passed away in 2000.
Attorney General Nathan said that Mr. Ruff "was universally admired in the city, both for his legal acumen and his commitment to this community. Chuck's outstanding service to the District makes him a fitting role model for the participants in this program. He was a friend, mentor, and hero of mine, and I know he would be very pleased to have this program bear his name."
Making Medicare Manageable
Law School Health Insurance Counseling Project named highest performing program of its kind
Professor Suzanne Jackson talks with a client in the Health Insurance Counseling Project.
The woman was 92 years old, a Spanish speaker, and homebound. She had needed home-based health care for several months, but was not in any position to advocate for herself. That's where the George Washington University Law School's Health Insurance Counseling Project (HICP) stepped in. Law students reviewed the woman's case and her Medicare benefits and intervened with a home health care agency, arranging for a health aide to visit her home on a regular basis.
"We often see people who are particularly vulnerable," explains GW Law Professor Suzanne Jackson, co-director of HICP. "We do everything from getting wheelchairs for homebound seniors to straightening out major billing tie-ups."
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal organization that funds state health insurance assistance programs in every state and in the District of Columbia, recently named HICP the highest-performing program of its kind in the nation. Since 1994, GW Law students working at HICP have helped thousands of D.C. residents decipher their Medicare benefits and gain access to health care.
"Our students have gained important professional legal skills and expertise while helping us serve more than 3,000 seniors and people with disabilities each year," Professor Jackson says. "Many of these individuals would not get needed care or medicines without our help."
Program staff also includes co-director Chris DeYoung, who worked for many years at the Medicare Rights Center before coming to GW, and senior attorney Michael Knipmeyer. Eight GW Law students work each semester to assist clients—free of charge—in obtaining public health care benefits and resolving problems with private and public health insurance programs. The HICP is part of the GW Law School's Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics, which celebrated 40 years of service in 2011.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services evaluated the HICP program and others like it across 10 different performance measures, including the percentage of people with Medicare served and the percentage of clients who have low incomes, disabilities, or who need help with prescription drug insurance plans.
In addition to sorting out insurance problems, HICP also routinely helps people who need emergency access to drugs prescribed by their doctors, Professor Jackson says. The GW Law students often work evenings and weekends to help clients get their medications, as running out of a prescribed medication can be a serious health risk.
Law School Dean Paul Schiff Berman says he is proud of HICP's work and the recognition it has gained.
"My heartiest congratulations go out to everyone involved," he says. "As we continue to grow and expand legal services at the GW Law School, this is not only an honor, but it is encouraging to be acknowledged for our ongoing commitment to serving the community around us while providing our students with practical and meaningful legal experience."
Shining a Spotlight on Special Collections
Diane and Richard Cummins (center) visit with Scott Pagel, director of the Jacob Burns Law Library (left), and Jennie Meade, the law library's special collections director.
During the past two decades, the Jacob Burns Law Library has amassed a treasure trove of rare, historical French and international texts, making it one of the largest assemblages of early French law in the United States. To raise visibility and recognition of this prized collection, the first Richard and Diane Cummins Legal History Research Grant will award $10,000 to a scholar seeking to delve into the library's special collections, comprising nearly 35,000 volumes of important legal works from the 15th through 19th centuries.
"We really have tried to build Burns into one the great law research libraries in the country," says Scott Pagel, director of the Jacob Burns Law Library, who led the way in growing the special collections department.
Also helping to build the special collections with important and unique antiquarian law books is GW Law Professor Richard Cummins and his wife, Diane. This year, the scholarly couple decided to fund a research grant to support short-term historical research at the Burns Library's special collections department. The grant will be awarded to one doctoral, LLM, or SJD candidate, postdoctoral researcher, faculty member, or independent scholar. The stipend will be used for transportation, housing, and other expenses during the research period.
Candidates, drawn from disciplines as diverse as law, history, religion, and philosophy, sent letters of application, their research proposals, and two letters of support to the Law School. A review committee selected the grant recipient (see below), who will present his research to interested faculty at the conclusion of the visit.
At press time, GW Law announced the winner of the Richard and Diane Cummins Legal History Research Grant for 2012—Michel Morin, a member of the law faculty of the Université de Montréal.
"It is a great honor for me to be the first recipient of the grant," said Professor Morin, who will use the rare library collection to study historical French laws. "I have been teaching and researching for many years the history of both French and Quebec Law, so this will be an exceptional opportunity to explore further issues.
"The Special Collections of the Jacob Burns Law Library, with its outstanding collection of early manuscripts and pre-19th century French law books, is the perfect location to undertake this research," he added. "I feel privileged to be given access to these marvels and look forward to being part of the George Washington University Law School's community of scholars and students."
Applications streamed in from individuals across the U.S. and Canada. "We got a really interesting cross section of law, history, and art history professors, several PhD candidates, and researchers interested in early French law," Mr. Pagel says.
"The call for grant applications was really successful and certainly we will plan to continue it next year and see if we are able to fund it beyond that," says Mr. Cummins, who graduated from New York University in 1964, practiced international law for Mobil until 1996, and has taught international law at GW for the last 16 years. Mr. Cummins lived in France for nine years, where he taught French law.
The Cummins, as well as the library staff, are always on the lookout for new special collections acquisitions, especially rare tomes.
"Some of our titles are unique in the sense that we appear to have the only recorded copy, or we have one of only several recorded copies," says Jennie Meade, the law library's special collections director. "These titles, of course, would be difficult or impossible to find elsewhere, especially in United States libraries."
The 35,000 volumes include more than 1,500 coutumes (customary law texts) and commentaries on French customary law, plus books on Roman and canon law, church-state relations, international law, and more than 125 incunabula—European books printed before 1501 using a printing press. Some of the most recent acquisitions come from the New York City Bar Association; the Bar's historical foreign law collection now is in the process of being transferred to Burns Library in stages, explains Ms. Meade.
"We're a new collection on the block and many people don't know what we have," says Mr. Pagel, who notes that GW acquired its special collections in about a quarter of the time that other notable law libraries' special collections—such as those at Columbia, Harvard, and Berkeley—have been built. "By offering this grant, we hope to publicize and get word out about this unique collection."
An International Approach to Energy Research
Associate Dean Lee Paddock (far left, second row from bottom) and the International Student Energy Research Project contingent in Groningen, The Netherlands.
In August, Associate Dean for Environmental Studies Lee Paddock, environmental law fellow Jennifer Bowmar, and six GW Law students launched the first International Student Energy Research Project in Groningen, The Netherlands. The GW group was joined by six students from the University of Groningen and five students from the Fundação Getulio Vargas in Rio de Janeiro.
After four days of discussion and environmental site visits, the students formed research teams to examine legal and economic issues associated with bioenergy, carbon capture and storage, and linking emissions trading systems. The research will continue through April 2012, when participants will present their findings in Washington, D.C.
Associate Dean Paddock notes that "finding ways to produce affordable energy and make it available throughout the world in a way that is environmentally sustainable is one of the central challenges of the 21st century. Bringing together students from Europe, Brazil, and the United States to explore common solutions to this global challenge helps them understand the scope of the problems and builds the capacity for creative change."
Reflecting on the experience to date, third-year student Richard Martinelli says, "Knowing the perspectives of those in other parts of the world is crucial to understanding international climate and energy issues. My experience with like-minded Dutch and Brazilian students and professors has been an enlightening part of my legal education. I look forward to working with them for the next several months as we research cutting-edge approaches to mitigating the effects of the climate and energy crises."
Professor to Serve on International Law Commission
Sean Murphy elected to five-year post by the United Nations General Assembly
GW Law Professor Sean Murphy was elected by the United Nations General Assembly to the International Law Commission on Nov. 17. The ILC consists of 34 distinguished legal scholars, practitioners, and government officials from around the world who are elected to serve for five-year terms. Created in 1948, the objective of the ILC is to codify and progressively develop international law through restatements of the law, studies of legal topics, and draft treaties.
"I am thrilled at the opportunity to serve on the ILC," said Professor Murphy. "It's a terrific opportunity to contribute an American perspective to the commission's work, drawing on my experiences as both an academic and practitioner."
While the U.S. government nominated Professor Murphy, he serves on the commission as an independent expert.
"Sean Murphy is rapidly becoming one of the leading international lawyers of his generation, and he perfectly embodies the idea that top scholarship and true engagement with the real world of practice can reinforce each other," said Law School Dean Paul Schiff Berman. "At GW Law, international law is not abstract; it is part of day-to-day law practice, and we all celebrate Sean's achievement and all the great work he will do as a member of the commission."
Professor Murphy will continue as a full-time professor at the Law School, where he is the Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law, and hopes to bring some of his experiences on the ILC back to the classroom.
"Sean brings a wide range of substantive knowledge that he has acquired over his many years of teaching and advocating before international courts and tribunals," said Susan Karamanian, associate dean for international and comparative legal studies. "He will also bring a tempered and reasoned approach to working with his ILC colleagues, which will contribute to promoting the ILC's goal of the progressive development and codification of international law."
Topics currently being studied by the ILC include international law on the expulsion of aliens, immunity of heads of state from national criminal jurisdiction, protection of persons in times of disaster, the effect of subsequent practice on treaty interpretation, and aut dedere aut judicare (the obligation to extradite or prosecute people who commit heinous crimes).
Before joining the Law School faculty in 1998, Professor Murphy served as the legal counselor of the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, arguing several cases before the International Court of Justice and representing the U.S. government in matters before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and The Hague Conference on Private International Law. He also served as U.S. agent to the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, arguing cases on behalf of the U.S. government and providing advice to U.S. nationals appearing before that tribunal.
Between 1987 and 1995, he served in the Department of State's Office of the Legal Adviser, primarily advising on matters relating to international environmental law, international claims, and military affairs. Since leaving the State Department, he has continued to represent numerous governments before international courts and tribunals.
Protecting Human Rights in Paraguay
In Paraguay, Professor Dinah Shelton and the commission's efforts to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples in the region helped, in part, to persuade the Paraguayan government to address the problem of restoring lands to its indigenous Kelynmagategma community. The government bought more than half of the ancestral lands in question and returned them to the community during a ceremony attended by Professor Shelton, Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco-Henríquez, and the Paraguayan minister of foreign affairs.
The woman had waited 36 years to learn how and why her husband had mysteriously disappeared while in police custody and to hear her government acknowledge that it had been responsible for leaving her children fatherless.
That day finally came during proceedings in Asunción, Paraguay, where the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, with GW Law Professor Dinah Shelton as president, negotiated significant human rights victories for victims and their families. Professor Shelton participated in historic efforts to mediate human rights claims that culminated with the government of Paraguay agreeing to provide reparations to victims of the 35-year dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner.
Professor Shelton, the Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law, recalled the emotional Aug. 5 signing ceremony, which involved the now-elderly woman and her adult children.
"The table was U-shaped, with us at the top, the government and victims on each side," she says. "The first family came in, a widow of about 70, two grown sons and a daughter-in-law, all petitioners regarding their husband and father who disappeared in 1975.
"When the family entered, they put a white lace cloth on the table, and on it they placed a large photo of the man, with a small white candle that was lit for the ceremony."
The government confessed that it had been responsible for the man's disappearance and it agreed to make public the settlement, pay money to the family, and build a memorial to honor his memory.
"At the end of the ceremony, one of them spoke up for all the disappeared," Professor Shelton says. "Then the family members and the government representatives hugged each other and gave thanks."
The day marked an extraordinary victory for human rights, not only in Paraguay, but also globally, notes Dean Paul Schiff Berman.
"Dinah's success and her work with the commission prove that the efforts of our faculty, students, and alumni reach far beyond the walls of our classrooms to bring about change in the world," says Dean Berman, whose own scholarly work focuses on globalization and its effect on the interaction of legal systems. "The GW Law community celebrates this milestone victory."
Professor Shelton and Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco-Henríquez also worked on settling petitions filed by the families
of two boys, ages 13 and 17, who were forced into the Paraguayan army. Both died under suspicious circumstances, leaving their loved ones in the dark for more than a decade.
The lost boys' mothers were present to hear the details of the settlement agreements: a confession of responsibility, which will be published in local newspapers; pensions; compensation; and a memorial. A street will be named in their sons' honor.
"The government has been willing to tackle the hard issues from the Stroessner dictatorship and build a better society," Professor Shelton says. "This makes the work of the commission all worthwhile."
During the same visit to Paraguay, her efforts to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples in the region helped, in part, to persuade the Paraguayan government to address the restoration of lands to its indigenous Kelynmagategma community. The government bought more than half of the ancestral lands in question and returned them to the community during a ceremony attended by Professor Shelton, Commissioner Orozco-Henríquez, and the Paraguayan minister of foreign affairs.
As the commission's rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Professor Shelton continues working on the final resolution of the remaining claims of the community for reparations and access to other lands where cemeteries and other sacred sites are located.
"This is a victory for the rights of indigenous peoples in particular and for compliance with human rights obligations in general," she says. "The government and the petitioners have shown enormous good will."
Professor Shelton's work also has given GW Law students a front-row seat to the evolution of human rights law. She reports on commission proceedings and victories and invites students to watch law in action during commission hearings, held just a few blocks from campus.
"Attending the commission's hearings provided me with a more tangible understanding of the theory behind what goes on there," says student Alexandra Sanchez, who took Professor Shelton's Regional Protection of Human Rights class. "We not only got the benefit of seeing the commission in action two blocks away from school, applying principles we learned in the classroom to human rights issues in Latin America, but we also got the perspective of a commissioner herself and a more nuanced understanding of the processes and the law."
A Hands-On Legal Education
GW Law students assist in professor's historic challenge to Utah polygamy law
In July, GW Law Professor Jonathan Turley (right) and local counsel Adam Alba, JD '10, filed a complaint at the U.S. Federal District Court in Salt Lake City challenging Utah's polygamy law.
GW law student Geoffrey Turley spent his first year of law school taking the usual course load—and then spent his first summer putting his education to use working on two litigation projects for Professor Jonathan Turley.
Mr. Turley (no relation to Professor Turley) and fellow students Joseph Haupt (now a 3L) and paralegal student Ashley Klearman are part of a legal team assisting Professor Turley, the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at GW, on a nationally prominent case involving the Brown family, the Utah polygamists profiled on the TLC reality show "Sister Wives." The students assisted Professor Turley in preparing to file a historic challenge to a Utah law that criminalizes polygamy and cohabitation. GW Law School alumnus Adam Alba, JD '10, a litigator in Salt Lake City, is also working on the case as local counsel.
Professor Turley filed the challenge in Salt Lake City on July 13 at the U.S. Federal District Court for the District of Utah. "We believe that this case represents the strongest factual and legal basis for a challenge to the criminalization of polygamy ever filed in the federal courts," said Professor Turley. "We are not demanding the recognition of polygamous marriage. We are only challenging the right of the state to prosecute people for their private relations, and demanding equal treatment with other citizens in living their lives according to their own beliefs."
The Brown family—husband Kody and wives Christine, Janelle, Meri, and Robyn, plus their 16 children—was investigated by the state of Utah beginning in 2010. Even though the investigation found no evidence of child abuse, state prosecutors have argued that the family members are committing felonies by living as "spiritual spouses." With Professor Turley's filing, the Browns now become plaintiffs, alleging constitutional violations that include equal protection, due process of law, and free exercise of religion claims.
The GW students assisting Professor Turley have gained first-hand experience working on a high-profile case with far-reaching implications.
In addition to working on the "Sister Wives" case, law student Geoffrey Turley worked as a student litigator for another of Professor Turley's cases. Last June, Professor Turley and six students joined clients—including U.S. Congress members Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.)—for a press conference before filing suit in the U.S. Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming that the president of the United States does not have the inherent authority to order combat operations without congressional approval.
"I suspect that very few attorneys ever actually get to do the type of civil-liberties work at issue in the Browns's case," said Mr. Haupt. "To be doing substantive work on this case, which could affect the way that thousands of polygamists in this country live their lives, is a real privilege. I'm grateful for the opportunity and excited to be a part of it."
The law students completed a variety of tasks related to the case: legal research, monitoring news coverage, writing memos, and assisting with the editing of the legal complaint.
Mr. Turley also worked with Professor Turley on one of his other cases last summer—a lawsuit on behalf of a bipartisan group of U.S. Congress members challenging the constitutional basis of the Libyan war. Five other GW students are part of that team, including Ms. Klearman, who also serves as Professor Turley's assistant at GW Law.
The significance of such an experience—learning about constitutional law and working on two cases just a few months later—does not go unnoticed by Mr. Turley. "It has been gently ironic and poignant," he said. In addition to the practical experience gained, the students were acknowledged and honored by Professor Turley for their hard work on the cases with J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Public Interest Fellowships.
Mr. Turley said that he hadn't originally given a lot of thought to what he might do the summer after his first year of law school, but when he saw that Professor Turley was seeking legal assistants for the summer, he eagerly applied. "This is the type of experience I'd hoped I'd have when I came to GW," he said. "I feel so positive about what I've worked on this summer. We must never forget that it is the Constitution we are expounding."
Mr. Haupt said that the opportunity to work with faculty like Professor Turley helped him decide to attend GW for law school. "One of the big draws to GW Law is the quality of the faculty and their body of work outside of the classroom," he said. "Getting to work on this case is a good example of the unique opportunities that high-quality faculty can provide."
Maria Pallante Appointed Register of Copyrights
At a moment when intellectual property law is at the forefront of numerous complex legal discussions, a GW Law graduate once again leads the nation in copyright law. In June, the Librarian of Congress James H. Billington appointed Maria A. Pallante, JD '90, the 12th Register of Copyrights and director of the United States Copyright Office.
"I look forward to working with the talented staff of the Copyright Office and Library of Congress to set a path for the future, and I will look to engage and partner with my colleagues in the copyright community in as many ways as possible," Ms. Pallante said.
Ms. Pallante's previous positions at the Copyright Office included associate register for policy and international affairs from 2008 to 2010, deputy general counsel from 2007 to 2008, and policy adviser from 1996 to 1997.
"Maria is a true superstar of the IP world," says Dean Paul Schiff Berman. "GW Law is committed not just to law on the books, but law in action, and so I am thrilled to report that yet another of our graduates is out doing the work that will help set our nation's policy path in a key area for innovation and growth."
Ms. Pallante is the third member of the Law School community to serve as Register of Copyrights in recent years. She succeeds Marybeth Peters, JD '71, who retired from the position on Dec. 31, 2010. Ralph Oman, the Pravel, Hewitt, Kimball and Kreiger Professorial Lecturer in Intellectual Property and Patent Law, served in the role from 1985 to 1993.
"Maria's appointment to be register is another illustration of the strength and depth of GW's IP program," says Intellectual Property Advisory Board Associate Dean for Intellectual Property Studies John M. Whealan. "Often our IP program is associated with the area of patent law; however, the fact that the last two registers of copyright are alumni (and the register before that is a member of the GW faculty) shows the strength of our program in the area of copyright law as well."
Ms. Pallante was selected for the post following an extensive search process that began in 2010, in which a distinguished group of candidates from the government, private sector, and academia were considered. Before joining the Copyright Office, Ms. Pallante served as intellectual property counsel and director of the licensing group for the worldwide Guggenheim Museums. She also led two national author organizations, working as executive director of the National Writers Union and as assistant director of the Authors Guild. Earlier in her career, she served as associate counsel at the Washington-based law firm and literary agency, Lichtman, Trister, Singer and Ross.
Sizing Up the Supreme Court
Lively Panel Discussion Provides Insight into the Nation's Highest Court
In September, The National Law Journal and Legal Times presented a panel discussion at GW Law focusing on the
U.S. Supreme Court. Led by Tony Mauro (left), award-winning journalist and Supreme Court correspondent for the past 30 years, and joined by legendary attorneys who have argued cases before the court, the event examined the hottest legal and political topics of 2011 and 2012. Panelists included Supreme Court experts Neal Katyal, Paul and Patricia Saunders Professor of National Security Law at Georgetown University Law Center; Lisa Blatt, head of the appellate and Supreme Court practice at Arnold & Porter; Alan Morrison, Lerner Family Associate Dean for Public Interest and Public Service Law at GW Law; and Paul Clement, partner, Bancroft PLLC.
Department of Justice Events Probe Timely Issues
Confronting Discrimination in the Post-9/11 Era: Challenges and Opportunities 10 Years After
The Hon. Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, gave closing remarks.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, there was a sharp increase in hate crimes and discrimination against Muslims, Sikhs, Arabs, and South-Asians in America. While the intensity and character of this backlash has changed over time, increased hate crimes and discrimination remain a challenge for these communities 10 years later. A fall conference at GW Law looked back at what happened and explored what civil rights challenges remain, what new obstacles have emerged, and how we as a nation can best meet them now and in the years ahead.
"I am pleased that GW Law School was able to bring Deputy Attorney General James Cole, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom Perez, and other leading thinkers, advocates, and policymakers to campus to engage with each other and to grapple with these vitally important issues," said Professor Roger Fairfax, who organized the event.
Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America, and Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, were part of the panel "Looking Forward: Remaining Challenges, Emerging Opportunities" with Sahar Aziz, associate professor of law at Texas Wesleyan Law School, and Dwight Holton, former U.S. Attorney and current senior litigation counsel, District of Oregon.
The Hon. James Cole, deputy attorney general of the U.S. Department of Justice, opens the conference.
Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, speaks during the panel "Looking Back: The Post-9/11 Backlash" with Ralph Boyd, former assistant attorney general, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice; Stuart Ishimaru, commissioner of the EEOC; Amardeep Singh, director of programs, Sikh Coalition; Dr. James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute; Roy L. Austin, Jr., deputy assistant attorney general, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice.
Event organizer Professor Roger Fairfax
This fall, Nan Heald, JD '80, was honored for her dedication to social justice for more than two decades as the executive director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Portland, Maine.
Tim Greenway for Mainebiz.com
Champions of Change
Also in October, law schools around the country participated in a live-streaming video conversation with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about what can be done to increase access to justice and close the justice gap. The live event at the White House honored 16 public service attorneys as The Champions of Change, including GW Law alumna Nan Heald, JD '80, executive director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Portland, Maine. GW Law Professor Roger Fairfax and several students attended the event. Back on campus, pizza was served while students listened to Ms. Heald and the other champions talk about their work and the importance of dedication to social justice.
"It was an honor to be present at the White House along with the attorney general to help celebrate those lawyers, law professionals, and other advocates who work tirelessly to effect change in their communities," Professor Fairfax said.
Professor Roger Fairfax, Criminal Law Society member Joe Yarbough, Criminal Law Society President Hyrum G. Miller, DOJ attorney Rob Livermore, and Criminal Law Society member Meredith Dempsey chat before the event.
Combating Gangs and Organized Crimes
The Criminal Law Society hosted a conversation with Rob Livermore, BA '95, JD '98, a senior litigator with the Department of Justice's Gangs & Organized Crime Section, in November. Mr. Livermore discussed the unique issues and challenges of successfully prosecuting gangs and organized crime.
GW Hosts Job Creation Summit
Washington business, education, and community leaders, including D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, gathered in GW's Jack Morton Auditorium Sept. 20 to brainstorm initiatives that will create job opportunities and support business formation in the District's Ward 8.
GW Law Professor and Small Business Clinic Director Susan Jones joined D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, GW President Steven Knapp and GWSB Dean Doug Guthrie at an employment brainstorming event Sept. 20.
The summit, titled Major Projects Lab: Ward 8, tapped area leaders to discuss citizen-led projects supporting small business development, jobs, and job training that are joint ventures between organizations and private and public partners. Presentation topics included utilizing veteran leadership, creating an Anacostia Business Improvement District, and historic preservation in Ward 8.
Hosted by GW and the Washington, DC Economic Partnership (WDCEP), the event featured remarks by GW President Steven Knapp; GW School of Business Dean Doug Guthrie; Professor Susan Jones, director of GW Law School's Small Business & Community Economic Development Clinic (SBCED Clinic); Director of GW's European Union Research Center Scheherazade Rehman; GW Associate Dean for MBA Programs Liesl Riddle; and WDCEP CEO Steve Moore.
"The Major Projects Lab: Ward 8 gave me the opportunity to advance work that I am deeply interested in at the intersection of job creation, self employment and worker owned cooperatives for formerly incarcerated persons, and community economic development," said Professor Jones.
"Recent statistics show a 25 percent unemployment rate in Ward 8, which comprises about 12 percent of D.C.'s total population of just over 600,000 residents. Ten percent of the total population—or 60,000 ex-offenders—live in D.C. More than 2,500 individuals return home after a period of incarceration each year and it is even more challenging to reintegrate returning citizens in a down economy."
In addition to representing individuals and group clients, SBCED Clinic students participated in an action research project examining law and policy issues affecting returning citizens. Action research is a broad term encompassing service and action learning and a pedagogical approach designed to educate students while helping communities.
"This project resulted in a new clinic client, The Work Place D.C. (TWPDC)," Professor Jones said. "It's an emerging nonprofit organization created to 'engage business, government, community-based organizations, and individuals to provide a continuum of holistic, high-quality workforce development programs and services to D.C. residents in one location that will lead to job-ready employee candidates, job placement, economic self-sufficiency, and improved quality of life. TWPDC plans to create a center for workforce development organizations in one location.'"
Professor Jones explained that the SBCED Clinic's action research initiatives have been influenced by a change theory ideology called positive deviance, which looks at what is working well in communities instead of what is wrong.
At the Ward 8 Summit, Mayor Gray spoke about the D.C. government's efforts to stimulate job creation.
"There are a number of nonprofit organizations, like Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop, a former clinic client, that are having a positive impact, in this case, reducing recidivism rates for incarcerated youth," Professor Jones said. "Likewise, organizations like TWPDC can transform outdated workforce development paradigms. But, they need help and that is why I proposed the E-Lawyering Pro Bono Legal Services Network for Ex-Offenders project—using primarily technology-based client communication and creating virtual efficiencies—which would allow lawyers to help formerly incarcerated individuals, in appropriate cases, to overcome impediments to employment, such as licensing restrictions, and focus more attention on opportunities through work, microbusinesses (necessity entrepreneurship), and worker-owner cooperatives.
"I am so pleased that I had the opportunity to participate in the MPL: Ward 8 and I am hopeful the Washington, D.C. Economic Partnership and GW will be able to find funding to support and advance important work in this arena," said Professor Jones.
In his remarks, Dr. Guthrie said there are no simple solutions for solving the job growth problem, but he hopes the university and District officials can work together to "contribute to the economic discussion" and make progress in addressing economic inequalities across neighborhoods.
"There are pockets in this city that are in deep distress," said Dr. Guthrie. "Some of the levels of unemployment in Ward 8 are higher than any other metropolitan areas of similar size…It's that type of contradiction that becomes a very engaging and interesting topic. The goal here is to get a room of people in 10 different areas who are really passionate about this issue and to really think about how to move forward."
Dr. Knapp spoke about the collaboration between GW and the D.C. government to address job creation, which began last year at Mayor Gray's Job Creation and Economic Development Summit.
In July, GW hosted a job fair in the university's Marvin Center featuring recruiters from 10 local universities and hospitals from the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. More than 2,000 local residents attended the fair, which advertised more than 400 jobs.
"These are difficult economic times, but I think there's a lot we can do working together with the District of Columbia government," said Dr. Knapp. "The long-term approach is to have a strategy to create jobs and make sure that the citizens of the District are trained and prepared to take those jobs, and that means working strategically with employers."
Mayor Gray spoke about the D.C. government's efforts to stimulate job creation in the District. He thanked Dr. Knapp and the university for helping address the city's growing unemployment problem, noting that universities are a valuable source of jobs in the District. An alumnus of GW, Mr. Gray said he was proud to be associated with a university that "understands [it's] more than just a part of Foggy Bottom."
"We are spending a lot of energy and a lot of attention and effort to try and bring economic development to communities east of the [Anacostia] river," he said. "I believe we have the capacity, the energy, the brain power, and the commitment to be the greatest city—not just in the United States of America but in the world."
—Claire Duggan and Laura Donnelly-Smith
Thomas Buergenthal Receives Three Prestigious Honors
Peggy Buergenthal, Judge Thomas Buergenthal, and President Steven Knapp (who introduced Judge Buergenthal) at the event hosted on Capitol Hill.
On Dec. 8, former International Court of Justice Judge Thomas Buergenthal, Lobingier Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence, was awarded the Louis B. Sohn Human Rights Award by the United Nations Association (National Capital Area). The award, established in 1997, is presented annually to individuals who have made substantial contributions to human rights.
"Professor Louis B. Sohn was my teacher, academic collaborator, and lifelong friend," Professor Buergenthal said. "Receiving the prize named for him is, therefore, a very special honor for me."
Professor Sohn, a prominent international law scholar who helped draft the Charter of the United Nations, had a close friendship and strong working relationship with Professor Buergenthal. The two met when Professor Buergenthal was working on his LLM and SJD at Harvard Law School under the supervision of Professor Sohn. They co-wrote two books, International Protection of Human Rights in 1973 and The Movement of Persons Across Borders in 1992. Professor Sohn taught on the faculty of GW Law during the later years of his career.
Just as Professor Sohn mentored Professor Buergenthal throughout his career, Professor Buergenthal has been a long-time mentor for many in the field, including Dinah Shelton, GW Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law.
"Tom is a world historical figure, someone who, by his life experience and enormous accomplishments, has changed the world," said Paul Schiff Berman, dean and Robert Kramer Research Professor of Law. "From his eloquent testimony regarding the horrors of the Holocaust to his work essentially inventing the modern field of international human rights law, to his championing the cause of international justice as a judge and scholar—he is the rare thing: a true hero. We are honored to have him on our faculty at the Law School."
This award was one of three honors Judge Buergenthal received in one week for his work in international law and human rights.
On Dec. 6, the Olender Foundation, at its 26th Annual Awards Ceremony, honored Professor Buergenthal with the Advocate for Justice Award, along with an Olender Foundation grant funding a GW Law scholarship in his name. The Olender Foundation, co-founded by Washington lawyers Jack Olender, LLM '61, and Lovell Olender, works to counter poverty and violence and to promote opportunity and equal justice.
The next day, the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists awarded Judge Buergenthal and Jack Olender with the 2011 Pursuit of Justice Award. Previous recipients include U.S. Supreme Court justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as well as many distinguished judges, lawyers, and legal practitioners.
"Tom overcame the adverse circumstances of his childhood to become a pioneer in the field of human rights," said Susan Karamanian, associate dean for international and comparative legal studies. "He is deserving of the three awards presented to him this week which reflect his life-long commitment to the promotion of justice and the recognition of the dignity of each individual."
GW Law, Microsoft Launch Distinguished Speaker Series
Ian Brown of the Oxford Internet Institute discussed how social media and technology played a part in recent riots in London, and in the resulting legal issues and dialogues worldwide, during the second installment of the series.
Jessica McConnell Burt
This fall GW Law established the Global Internet Freedom and Human Rights Distinguished Speaker Series, organized and coordinated by professors Dawn Nunziato and Arturo Carrillo. The series presents a range of timely topics addressing global Internet free speech and human rights issues. It is presented through generous support from Microsoft.
"The speaker series was established to promote greater reflection in academia and among policymakers on pressing issues relating to the growing convergence of Internet freedom and human rights," Professor Carrillo says.
The series kicked off on Oct. 3 with remarks by Dunja Mijatovi, representative on Freedom of the Media for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Previously, Ms. Mijatovićserved as chairperson of the European Platform of Regulatory Authorities, the world's largest network of media regulators. She spoke eloquently in favor of an open Internet and universal access.
"We were thrilled to be able to host Representative Mijatovićas the inaugural speaker in our speaker series," Professor Nunziato says. "Her work in advancing Internet freedom throughout the world is an inspiration to all of us who are dedicated to the free flow of information on the Internet, and we look forward to further collaboration between the Law School and the representative's office."
Later in October, Ian Brown, senior research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, offered timely remarks focusing on Internet policies and perspectives in Europe, and how they are relevant to American legal discussions. Dr. Brown drew examples from outcomes of the use of social media during the recent London riots—both as a means through which protestors organized demonstrations and citizens and officials coordinated clean-up and damage control efforts.
"Judging from the attendance and positive feedback received to date, the fall speaker series has been successful in raising the profile of Internet freedom and human rights issues," Professor Carrillo says. "We look forward to more great conferences during the spring semester."
Highlights of the spring semester series include a January conference featuring a presentation by Frank La Rue, United Nations special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. On Feb. 22, Microsoft will host an event featuring Rebecca MacKinnon, co-founder of Global Voices Online and the Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation.
The series was covered by Technology-Academics-Policy (TAP), a collaborative site featuring GW and other top law schools in the United States, in cooperation with Microsoft. TAP serves as a forum for academics leading the dialogue on the impact of technological innovation in such areas as intellectual property, cloud computing, competition policy, economic growth, and privacy and security. The site covers hot topics and events in the technology arena and showcases insightful posts from thought leaders such as Professor Daniel J. Solove.
After the first installment of the series, Dan Bross, senior director of corporate citizenship with Microsoft, shared thoughts on the series via the Microsoft on the Issues blog. "Microsoft is sponsoring the series as part of our ongoing work to advance freedom of expression, privacy, and human rights, and our belief in the importance of the 'rule of law' in finding sustainable solutions for this issue," Mr. Bross wrote.
To watch videos, view photos, and learn more about the series, visit www.law.gwu.edu/gwl/humanrightsspeakerseries.
Outside Placement: GW Law Students Assist D.C. Contract Appeals Board
CAB Chief Judge Marc Loud meets regularly with 2L Preston Wiruth. Says Judge Chief Loud: "We appreciate the public-private partnership with GW Law—our externs provide CAB with 60 volunteer hours weekly collectively."
A unique public-private partnership between GW Law and the D.C. Contract Appeals Board (CAB) is making a huge difference to students and the government alike.
In a Nov. 11 Washington Business Journal article, "D.C. Contract Appeals Board Tackles Backlog," journalist Michael Neibauer quotes CAB Chief Judge Marc Loud as saying the board's recent caseload reduction can be credited to "its judges, a minimal staff, and a cadre of volunteer law students from George Washington University."
According to the article, CAB—the entity that hears and decides on contractual disputes and bid protests filed against the D.C. government—is currently operating with a slashed budget, only three judges, and a docket of more than 100 cases.
"The District of Columbia government procures over $2 billion annually in goods and services and the D.C. Contract Appeals Board has exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate protests and contract disputes pertaining to the District's procurement practices," says Chief Judge Loud, who serves on the board with Judge Maxine McBean and Judge Monica C. Parchment, JD '96.
Monica C. Parchment, JD '96, a judge with the D.C. Contract Appeals Board, takes time to meet one-on-one with legal extern 3L Matthew Lane.
"CAB judges play a vital role in promoting procurement transparency through issuing decisions that capture the challenges inherent in a modern procurement system. GW Law students Preston Wiruth, Matt Lane, and Nicole Best have been exceptional in completing quality research and writing assignments that are useful to our judges in managing the docket and resolving disputes in a timely manner. Specifically, the externs have completed solid research on issues of standing, dispositive motions practice, and terminations for default. In addition, and just as importantly, we appreciate the public-private partnership with GW Law—our externs provide CAB with 60 volunteer hours weekly collectively."
Associate Dean for Outside Placement Jessica Tillipman, who was contracted by Chief Judge Loud, was instrumental in setting up the new program.
"The GW Law-CAB partnership provided our students with an excellent opportunity to gain substantive legal experience in government procurement and to hone their legal research and writing skills," says Associate Dean Tillipman. "Each student serves as the sole law clerk to each judge, providing them with a genuine clerkship experience while still in law school. It is rare that law students are exposed to this type of one-on-one mentoring experience with a judge."
GW Law students Matthew Lane, Preston Wiruth (far left) and Nicole Best (right) meet with CAB Judge Monica C. Parchment, JD '96, Chief Judge Marc Loud, and Judge Maxine McBean to discuss projects and receive valuable feedback.
The CAB judges said they made sure to incorporate into their program many ways for the student externs to receive frequent and candid feedback. "We are constantly mindful to build time into our schedules to provide feedback to Nicole, Preston, and Matthew," says Chief Judge Loud. "We want to build an outstanding externship program, and the externs' feedback is similarly important to us."
"I am proud of the partnership that we have with the D.C. CAB," says Associate Dean Tillipman. "Since day one, Chief Judge Loud and judges McBean and Parchment have been deeply committed to providing our students with a valuable educational experience. Each student undoubtedly receives the type of mentoring and exposure to the law that will make them a tremendous asset to the legal community when they graduate."
Working under the judges' leadership, contributions from the GW Law students are helping "aged dispute cases," those filed more than three years ago. CAB has eliminated more than 37 percent of aged cases over the past year. In this symbiotic relationship, Chief Judge Loud notes the students have gained many skills, including what he says was the important ability to maintain neutrality while evaluating all sides of an argument.
In addition to gaining priceless legal know-how, the law students are also taking away a firsthand appreciation for serving
"Working to serve the public good is what has kept America strong," says Chief Judge Loud. "America needs men and women at the helm who will mediate our inevitable tensions with a view toward strengthening the republic."
A Banner Year for GW's Mock Trial Board
From left to right: Cohen & Cohen winner 3L Laura Mazor, Dean Paul Schiff Berman, Judge Charles Price, JD '72, Wayne Cohen (adjunct professor and competition sponsor), and Cohen & Cohen winner 3L Michael Smith.
GW's Mock Trial Board scored a number of impressive victories this academic year both on and off campus.
Skilled advocacy was on full display at the final round of the Cohen & Cohen Mock Trial Competition on Nov. 8. An annual highlight of the Mock Trial Board calendar, the competition pitted 3Ls Michael Smith and Laura Mazor (representing the defense) against Erin Dykstra and David Kartchner, who argued for the plaintiff, in a fictitious case focusing on a pedestrian/motor vehicle accident on the grounds of a high school. The defense team emerged victorious.
Judge Charles Price, JD '72, presiding judge of the 15th Circuit Court in Montgomery, Ala., presided over the mock trial, which took place in the Jacob Burns Moot Court Room. Chantilly High School supplied the jury and Capital Reporting Co. supplied the court reporter. The annual event is made possible thanks to the continuing support of adjunct Professor Wayne Cohen and his law firm, Cohen & Cohen Inc.
Mock Trial Board teams also turned in stellar performances at prestigious external competitions this fall. The team of Meredith Dempsey, Joseph Yarbough, Ariel Gould, and James Bonneau won the ABA Section on Labor and Employment Law's Eighth Annual Law Student Trial Advocacy Regional Competition in Washington, D.C. Led by new coach Moses Cook of D.C. Law Students in Court, they beat out a field of 18 teams, defeating teams from Penn, UVa, and William & Mary. They now advance to the National Tournament in Miami.
Defendant's attorney 3L Michael Smith questions a witness. In the center background is the court reporter provided by Capital Reporting Co.
The banner year continued with a victory at the Georgetown Law National White Collar Crime Mock Trial Invitational Competition by the team of William Cooper, Samantha Steinberg, Jake Chervinsky, and Joseph Kaufman. The team never lost a ballot the entire competition. In all five rounds, every judge the team faced voted for it. The team came in first of 20, defeating Northwestern in the semi-finals and Fordham in the finals. 2L Jake Chervinsky was singled out with an attorney award. The team was coached by Mark Shaffer, who celebrates his second win coaching a GW Mock Trial Board team to victory.
As the winner of the 2011 Georgetown White Collar Crime Invitational Advocacy Competition, GW was invited to compete in the 2012 National Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Competition in Chicago on March 29-31. GW most recently competed in the prestigious competition in 2008 and 2009.
In other exciting Mock Trial Board news, GW will be hosting the Texas Young Lawyers Association's (TYLA) National Trial Competition for the first time in February. The contest, now in its 37th year, is widely considered to be the premier open mock trial competition in the nation.
GW Launches Political Law Studies Initiative
Professor Spencer Overton (far right) with some of the students assisting him with the Political Law Studies Initiative.
Jessica McConnell Burt
Washington, D.C., has more lawyers practicing political law than anywhere else in the country, so this year GW Law School decided to bring like minds together. The result—the Political Law Studies Initiative—offers a venue for practitioners, policy advocates, law students, and scholars to advance the political law field and create bipartisan professional networks.
"Even though D.C. is home to many political lawyers, there was no neutral venue for these folks to come together," says Spencer Overton, professor of law at GW, who practiced political law working on Barack Obama's presidential campaign as well as the Obama transition team. "This can be the intellectual center of our field."
One of the initiative's main functions is to organize and host events, giving students the opportunity to network with field practitioners and alumni. "This will give people the opportunity to talk off the record and develop relationships which can result in better policy," says Professor Overton, who recently took his campaign finance class to the Federal Election Commission to meet with Vice Chair Caroline Hunter. "Students can get to know practitioners and learn about job opportunities." Another goal is to catalogue the various types of political law jobs and externships, and to help students to secure those jobs.
The initiative's first event—co-sponsored with the Public Campaign—featured Harvard Law professor and founder of Rootstrikers, Lawrence Lessig, who spoke about his new book on how money corrupts Congress. "There was standing-room only," reports Rachel Applestein, a 2L student and president of the Election Law Society.
Society members helped Professor Overton write a proposal to school administration on why a political law center would be beneficial. "[This initiative is] not only for interested students, it's also important for the broader law community," says Ms. Applestein.
Another autumn event was a judicial election panel co-sponsored by the initiative, the Federalist Society, and the Election Law Society. Panel members—alumni Karl Sandstrom, JD '76, George Patton Jr. of Bose McKinney & Evans, and Professor Stephen Ware of the University of Kansas School of Law—discussed whether state judges should be elected or appointed.
In addition to coordinating events, the initiative provides suggested curricula for studying political law. "The list of suggested curriculum offers ideas of courses students interested in political law should take," says Ms. Applestein.
GW boasts a number of alumni who are leaders in the field, explains Professor Overton, and the initiative recognizes their accomplishments and allows them to mentor students and connect with other practitioners in the field.
Among GW's notable political law alumni are Michael Carvin, JD '82, who represented George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore; Rebecca Gordon, JD '01, author of the leading treatise on federal lobbying rules; Ron Jacobs, BA '97, JD '01, founder of the political law department at Venable LLP; former FEC Commissioner Karl Sandstrom, JD '76; and Bobby Birchfield, who represented the Republican National Committee in the first major challenge to the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Law.
The political law field is quickly changing and evolving, says Professor Overton. "This really gives us a chance to be on the cutting edge of that change."
A Lifetime of Achievement
Before an enthusiastic audience in October, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz presented GW Law Professor William E. Kovacic, former FTC commissioner and chairman, with the 2011 Miles W. Kirkpatrick Award for Lifetime FTC Achievement. In his remarks, Chairman Leibowitz noted that Professor Kovacic's dedication and remarkable work "have made the FTC stronger, more nimble, and more effective."
Professor Kovacic enjoyed a long and distinguished career at the FTC, serving as commissioner from January 2006 to October 2011, and as chairman from 2008 to 2009. Among other roles, he also was the FTC's general counsel from 2001 through 2004. This service, as well as his far-reaching expertise and dedication to sharing his knowledge, make him a sought-after instructor and a valued member of GW Law's faculty of real-world experts.
Professor William E. Kovacic (center) received the Federal Trade Commission's Lifetime Achievement Award in October.
FTC Photo/Artis D. Carter
"Bill Kovacic is a towering figure in the worlds of trade and competition law and policy, and he is that rare breed: someone who is both respected for his scholarly insights and his ability to translate his ideas into pragmatic solutions that help change the future," says Dean Paul Schiff Berman. "His return to our faculty immediately catapults GW to international leadership on trade and competition law, and I look forward to building our Competition Law Center into the go-to place in the world for cutting-edge innovation in these areas so crucial to our economic future."
Professor Kovacic joined the GW Law faculty in 1999. Throughout his career he has fostered innovation and solutions to antitrust and consumer protection issues worldwide, applying practical knowledge both to his role at the FTC and his role in the classroom. He has served as an adviser on antitrust and consumer protection issues to many nations around the globe and, since January 2009, has served as vice chairman for outreach of the International Competition Network.
Longtime colleague and collaborator Steven L. Schooner, Nash & Cibinic Professor of Government Procurement Law and co-director of the Government Procurement Law Program, says he is honored to work with Professor Kovacic and that GW Law students are fortunate to learn from a world-renowned expert.
"It's hard for most people to grasp how much respect and admiration Bill commands around the world for his work with international organizations and developing nations. And it's not just that he's willing to spend inordinate amounts of time on airplanes, in airports, and in far away places. Much more importantly, Bill understands the dynamics of law transfer, he recognizes the challenges that developing states face, he realizes that there's a big difference between teaching and preaching, and his sincerity, warmth, and goodwill is infectious," Professor Schooner says. "He's long been a model for anyone who travels the globe attempting to help states improve governance and, in so doing, enrich the lives of our global community."
While Professor Kovacic now is eager to return to the classroom, he has no plans of slowing down or working only on campus. "I am thrilled to return to the Law School. The university generously allowed me to work at the FTC for most of the past decade, and I look forward to applying what I have learned as a teacher and a researcher," he says.
In particular, Professor Kovacic said he is eager to renew his leadership of GW's Competition Law Center. "Through the center, I expect there will be many excellent opportunities to engage our students and faculty and other GW departments in projects that will help improve the quality of competition law and policy at home and abroad."
Michael D. Hausfeld, JD '69, who generously endows the Competition Law Center and contributes his expertise to the Law School in numerous ways, says Professor Kovacic's return is celebrated by the alumni community.
"Professor Kovacic has been a pioneer extraordinaire in the field of competition law both domestically and globally for over a decade. He was an early advocate for the universality of antitrust laws protecting the integrity of markets from all forms of collusive or artificial interference. He brought vision and excitement to the enforcement efforts of the Federal Trade Commission, elevating them to new levels of activity and respect. He is a much sought-after speaker and lecturer at universities and conferences throughout the world on matters which are fundamental to the proper functioning of countries' economies," Mr. Hausfeld says. "His return to the GW Law School brings a new and valuable asset which can only increase the stature of the institution commensurate with his reputation and knowledge. Welcome home."
Hot Coffee Draws Capacity Crowd
All photos by Claire Duggan
Alan Morrison, Susan Saladoff, JD '83, and Ralph Nader discuss the film and the issues.
Filmmaker Susan Vogel Saladoff, JD '83, returned to GW in September to screen and discuss her acclaimed documentary Hot Coffee, which critiques the current state of the U.S. civil justice system and examines the complex concepts behind the phrase "tort reform."
GW's Jack Morton Auditorium drew a capacity crowd for the event, which featured a lively discussion and Q & A about the film and related topics with Ms. Saladoff and expert guests, including Public Citizen co-founders Ralph Nader and Alan Morrison, Lerner Family Associate Dean for Public Interest and Public Service Law. The event was sponsored by accomplished litigator Michael Avenatti, JD '00.
Read more about Ms. Saladoff and the award-winning film in the Summer 2011 issue of GW Law School Magazine, available at www.gwmagazine.com/2011_law_summer/dept_alumni_profile2.html.
Susan Saladoff, JD '83, visits with Professor Emeritus Tom Dienes (center), Anne Morrison (left) and students.
Panelists Alan Morrison, Susan Saladoff, and Ralph Nader with Dean Paul Schiff Berman and students before the panel discussion.
Alan Morrison, Ralph Nader, and Susan Saladoff, JD '83, chat with guests before the September screening at GW.
Filmmaker Susan Vogel Saladoff, JD '83
In Memoriam: Benjamin Gupta
Graduate student remembered for dedication to U.S.-India relations
Friends, family, and colleagues of GW Law and School of Business student Benjamin Kane Gupta, 28, gathered for a memorial ceremony celebrating his life Jan. 30 at GW's Dorothy Betts Marvin Theater. Mr. Gupta, who passed away unexpectedly in December, was scheduled to graduate with a joint JD/MBA degree in May 2012.
Remembered by all as an extraordinary leader and spirited friend, Mr. Gupta attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Boston University, graduating cum laude in 2006 with a BA degree in economics and psychology. He worked in the U.S. Department of State as a partnership coordinator on the Global Partnership Initiative. He had previously worked as a staff assistant in the office of then-U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.).
Dean Paul Schiff Berman called him one of the Law School's most dynamic students. "To hear him talk about the importance of combining JD and MBA degrees was to understand how much he loved his studies and how excited he was to pursue his future path at the intersection of law and business. Ben's sudden death is simply unfathomable, and the Law School community is devastated. We are so sad for his family, friends, and colleagues and offer our support."
He was a friendly, engaging person who was dedicated to his law studies, said Susan Karamanian, associate dean for international and comparative legal studies and a longtime friend of his family.
"Ben had a lively, generous spirit that was apparent upon our first meeting. He loved people and life," she said. He took a leadership role in organizing a student trip to the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur in spring 2010, and his dedication to building strong connections with India was clear, Associate Dean Karamanian said.
Among the many people attending the memorial service were former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton—a testament to the high esteem in which the Gupta family is held.
He is survived by his mother, Bonnie Gupta; his father, Vinod Gupta; his father's wife, Laurel Gottesman-Gupta; and two brothers, Jess and Alexander. The Gupta family have been longtime friends and supporters of the Law School, and are treasured members of our community.
A Power-Packed Law Review Symposium
The 2011 George Washington Law Review Symposium, commemorating the 100th anniversary of Max Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention, featured many prominent jurists, practitioners, and academics. Here, Professor Amanda Tyler (center) moderates the Records and the Judiciary panel with (left to right) Judge Frank H. Easterbrook, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit; Judge Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit; Judge Charles Lettow, U.S. Court of Federal Claims; Judge Reena Raggi, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit; Judge Jeff Sutton, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit; and Judge Diane P. Wood, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.
Remembering G. Franklin Rothwell
On Jan. 5, the GW Law community gathered with family, friends, and colleagues at a memorial service in the Michael K. Young Faculty Conference Center to celebrate the life of G. Franklin Rothwell IV, JD '56, who passed away on Dec. 25. Through his life, his work, his generosity, and his dedication to mentoring and supporting future generations of lawyers, he touched and inspired the lives of all he knew. In the words of his friend Associate Dean John M. Whealan, "Frank Rothwell was a one-of-a-kind person. He was a giant in the IP field, and was a true gentleman to everyone he encountered."
"Frank Rothwell was not only a towering figure in the Intellectual Property Bar, he was a steadfast supporter of GW's Intellectual Property Law Program, serving both as member and chairman of the Law School's Intellectual Property Advisory Board and a friend to many members of the GW Law community. In addition, he generously helped generations of students through his contributions to our moot court program and other activities throughout the school," Dean Paul Schiff Berman said. "The GW Law community has lost a true friend, and we are all saddened by this tremendous loss."
A native of Missouri, Mr. Rothwell graduated from the University of Missouri in 1949 with a BSME. He went on to serve in the Army Corps of Engineers during the Korean War, and then attended GW Law, where he earned a JD with honors in 1956 as a member of the Order of the Coif. Before graduating from law school, he was registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Ultimately, he joined the ranks of notable GW Law alumni patent attorneys. Among his numerous accomplishments, he served as the attorney for the patent on the Medeco Biaxial Cylinder Lock, issued on Jan. 13, 1987 to the inventor Roy N. Oliver.
In 1981, he co-founded the prestigious firm of Rothwell, Figg, Ernst & Manbeck PC in Washington, D.C., where he served as chairman and member until his death. During a remarkable career that spanned more than 50 years, he prosecuted hundreds of U.S. and foreign patent and trademark applications and was also active in the areas of opinions and intellectual property contracts. He handled numerous jury and non-jury trials and many more negotiated settlements involving patents, trade secrets, trademarks, service marks, copyrights, and false advertising.
Mr. Rothwell also was an active philanthropist and supporter of legal education, serving as an adviser to GW Law in numerous capacities, and encouraging students to develop key skills by supporting experiential IP competitions. "The opportunity to represent GW Law in the Giles Rich Competition both in California and at the Federal Circuit has definitely been the defining event of my law school career," said student Thomas Yeh. "Mr. Rothwell's generosity made everything possible for my partner and me—it was really inspiring to see such a prominent alumnus reaching out and supporting the GW Law community."
Mr. Yeh's competition partner, Alexander Varond, JD '11, said that Mr. Rothwell was a role model to all students and alumni. "Mr. Rothwell's more than 50-year contribution to all aspects of patent law is a great motivation for recent graduates like myself. We are sorry to see him pass, but his name, support, and memory will remain an important part of the GW Giles Rich Moot Court tradition."
Mr. Rothwell loved and enjoyed his family, fishing, travel, opera, and the arts. He traveled extensively for both work and pleasure. He is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Henrietta (Sissy) Rothwell, two sons, Gideon F. and wife Anita of Bethesda, Md.; John Duncan and wife Dr. Marje Cristol of Durango, Colo., and daughter Anne S. Rothwell and husband Patrick Vargas of Virginia Beach, Va., and four grandchildren, Caitlin, Pancho, Danika,
He has left the Law School with a proud legacy by establishing an exceptional career while paving the way for future scholars and practitioners to succeed. His professional accomplishments, philanthropic spirit, and collaboration with GW Law have contributed to the prestige and scope of our Law School, and he will be missed.
Innocence After Troy Davis
In November, the Mock Trial Board hosted Professor Jeffrey Rosen, who spoke about "The Innocence Project after Troy Davis."
The Case of the Missing Oscar
GW Law team tackles decades-old Oscar mystery
The day after winning Best Supporting Actress, Hattie McDaniel poses before a table of plaque and statuette Oscars. Ms. McDaniel is resting her plaque Oscar on the podium with her left hand and is wearing the outfit she wore on the night of the Academy Awards. The photographer is believed to have been Mickey Marigold.
Photo courtesy of the Margaret Herrick Library, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Not many legal research trips involve a visit to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood. But, the academy was a crucial stop for Professor W. Burlette Carter, who headed to Hollywood to unravel the mystery of what happened to Hattie McDaniel's Oscar—a case detailed in her article "Finding the Oscar," published in the Fall 2011 edition of the Howard Law Journal.
For some 40 years, Ms. McDaniel's Oscar has been missing from a glass case at Howard University, where it was last seen. She won the coveted award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy, the O'Hara family's slave servant in the 1939 film adaptation of Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Gone With the Wind. "It was the first Oscar ever awarded to a Negro," explains Professor Carter, who often uses "Negro" for African Americans of that era because "that's what they would have proudly called themselves."
The book was contentious among blacks, she says, because it "attacked the end of slavery and defended the Ku Klux Klan." Professor Carter adds that when Ms. McDaniel won her Oscar, Hollywood offered only limited roles to African Americans, mostly as servants to whites or as comical, dangerous, or dim-witted caricatures. That context—and the perception of some that Ms. McDaniel accepted demeaning roles without protest— made her Oscar controversial. "On the one hand," says Professor Carter, "it represented a Hollywood milestone as the first ever awarded to a Negro. On the other hand, to some it was Hollywood's message that only black actors who went along with the status quo, no matter how much it damaged blacks by stereotyping them, would succeed."
Professor Carter got the idea of researching the Oscar's fate from a Twitter conversation. After another Best Supporting Actress winner, Mo'Nique, honored Ms. McDaniel in her 2010 Oscar acceptance speech, entertainment critic Touré led a lively discussion about the actress's lost Oscar. Professor Carter, who teaches trusts and estates at GW Law, wondered aloud to the Twitterati if anyone had ever looked at Ms. McDaniel's probate papers to see whether the Oscar actually reached Howard University— and how. Most commentators assumed that it came directly to Howard from the estate.
"I later learned that Ms. McDaniel's probate papers were at the Los Angeles County Records Center," says Professor Carter, "and the center would not send anything by mail." Not yet sure a visit to the West Coast would be worth it, Professor Carter called partner Ted Mayer of her former law firm, Hughes Hubbard & Reed in New York, who arranged for Los Angeles paralegal John Chaillot to visit the center to review key documents. An exhaustive search through the probate file further complicated the story; documents showed the Oscar in the estate, but its trail disappeared without explanation about midway through the probate process.
From that point on, says Professor Carter, "I was convinced that the story was worth telling." She rolled up her sleeves and got to work, aided in her research by GW Law students Sam Cowin, Michael Dal Santo and Keith Sleeth Del-Prete. Together, the team conducted some 50 interviews and document reviews in four jurisdictions.
Reviewing Ms. McDaniel's probate file was no easy feat, says Professor Carter. "The files were microfilmed out of order," she notes, "and I had to piece it together. I actually had to do a spreadsheet to get the chronology straight." As the story unfolded, she was surprised to learn that the actress died with an estate of just $10,000. Though she had only a few creditors, the estate was insolvent. (The IRS claimed it was owed more than $11,000.) Consequently, all of her assets, including the Oscar, were sold to pay creditors.
Professor Carter believes that the Oscar did not reach Howard until the early 1960s and that it probably came as a gift from actor and alumnus Leigh Whipper, a founding member and president of the Negro Actors Guild and an avid collector of Negro theater memorabilia. "He also knew Hattie McDaniel very well," says Professor Carter.
After extensive research, Professor Carter concludes that the Oscar was removed from its glass case in Howard's drama department between the spring of 1971 and the summer of 1973. She is also virtually certain that stories that Howard students took the Oscar during the '60s Civil Rights protests (and even tossed it into the Potomac River, angry that the actress played a slave) are pure fabrication. "The Oscar disappeared after student unrest had quelled," she says, "and those who have blamed students cite no sources." Indeed, she says, "Every student from that period that I interviewed denied ever hearing about such a theft." Moreover, with her research assistant Sam Cowin, Professor Carter reviewed court filings concerning the '60s civil rights protests at Howard stored at the National Archives. "Those filings, which relate to injunction requests and prosecutions, mention a lot of things that students and others did…but they don't refer to the Oscar or other artifacts," she states.
Professor Carter also rejects another theory: that Professor Owen Dodson, the Oscar's caretaker in the Howard drama department, took it. She reviewed Mr. Dodson's probate file in New York Surrogates' Court, which contained draft wills he had written as well as his private papers at Howard and at Emory University. "It does not appear that the Oscar was among the items he had at death or nor will anyone say that they saw it in his New York apartment," she says.
So what happened to the Oscar? For now, Professor Carter thinks that the best evidence suggests that it was placed in the Pollock Theater Collection to make room for a new group of faculty in theater. "By the time the '60s were over, Howard had an almost completely new and younger drama department," she says. "They had new ideas and the Oscar represented the old."
Professor W. Burlette Carter (right) and a team of GW Law students helped unravel the case of Hattie McDaniel's missing Oscar.
Professor Carter says researching the Oscar's story was actually "fun," but it was also the kind of investigative work that lawyers are uniquely trained to do. "It was not just researching facts, but relating disparate facts to each other and analyzing their meanings," she says. "We used everything from the phone book to the Internet and social media to find people for interviews." She and her assistants also took advantage of the extensive electronic newspaper collections at GW's Estelle and Marvin Gelman Library and the Library of Congress.
She did find herself in a few tight spots – such as convincing then Dean Gregory Maggs that her trip to view the probate files in Los Angeles needed to include a visit to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Hollywood. "Greg didn't express it, but I could imagine that he was a little skeptical about a proposal that the law school fund a trip for me to go to Hollywood!" Professor Carter laughs.
But fund it he did. The academy houses the Margaret Herrick Library, which holds papers and photographs of Ms. McDaniel, again only accessible in person. In addition to reviewing those papers, there were two other things that Professor Carter wanted to accomplish there. First, she wanted to see the Academy's official photographs of that famous Oscar night in 1940. "I had heard rumors that academy night was segregated," says Professor Carter. "But some histories report that at least one white person, perhaps her agent, was at Ms. McDaniel's table; other histories say Ms. McDaniel sat at director David Selznick's table as a guest. I wanted to see for myself."
Sure enough, says Professor Carter, the official photo shows Ms. McDaniel and her escort seated alone at a small round table in a sea of long banquet tables end to end. "They were in a corner," she adds. "If they turned left, they faced the back of a white person sitting at the end of one of the long banquet rows. If they turned right, they faced the stairs. They were the only two blacks in the room, including the servants and the band, and the rest of the Gone with the Wind cast and crew were seated several yards away toward the front center of the room."
The second thing Professor Carter wanted to see for herself was the type of Oscar Hattie McDaniel actually won. The academy's website has a "publicity shot" picture of Ms. McDaniel accepting the traditional tall 13.5 inch Oscar, taken days after she won. But in her day, Best Supporting Actors and Actresses did not win the traditional 13.5 inch tall Oscar, but rather were given Oscar plaques, approximately 5 by 6 inches and mounted on a stone base. "There are only a few of those in circulation now and some pictures on the Internet, even fakes claiming to be McDaniel's," she explains. "I wanted a sense of its weight, whether the engravings or base changed from year to year, that sort of thing. The academy librarians were very helpful in showing me several examples of what we were looking for."
Professor Carter knows that the book is not closed on Hattie McDaniel's Oscar story. "I am hoping that the article will bring some more sources out of the woodwork," she says. She also notes that there was a lot she had to leave out of the article. "This 'lost Oscar' story is larger than Hattie McDaniel," she says. "It is a story about how slavery and…racism…and gender discrimination affected the ability of the descendants of slaves to earn wealth, grow wealth, protect it, and pass it from generation to generation."
On the other hand, Professor Carter notes that the story is a metaphor for progress too. "At her death, the Oscar was assessed at 'no value.' Today it is estimated to be worth half a million dollars, and I think that's low. The whole story is a metaphor for where we've been ... and where we are today in Civil Rights. And maybe the fact that it is lost now, suggests that there is still work to do."
Part of that work, she suggests, is making sure such artifacts are safe and preserved. "In Hattie McDaniel's day, most white institutions did not preserve black history, so there are tons of papers, books, artifacts from these earlier eras in the institutions across the country that would accept them. They represent American history, and we need to make sure that they are taken care of."
Readers might have one final question. Did Professor Carter deliver a mock Oscar acceptance speech when the academy's librarians gave her an Oscar to hold in her hands? She laughs, "You know I thought about that. But the academy knows they have something special, so I had to be very clinical about my examination, you know, to act as if it was no big deal to hold an Oscar in my hands—or to be in a room that had several of the tall Oscars on shelves. So I just played it 'GW cool.'"
White House Administrator Joins Law School
Daniel I. Gordon named associate dean for government procurement law studies
George Washington University Law School has named former top White House government contracting official Daniel I. Gordon as its new associate dean for government procurement law studies. He assumed the newly created position on Jan. 1, after serving for the past two years as administrator for federal procurement policy in the Office of Management and Budget.
"Dan Gordon has long been one of the worldwide leaders in this important field, and he is that rare person who can translate his experience and knowledge into learning and action," says Dean Paul Schiff Berman. "Our students will greatly benefit from his insider perspective and his practical know-how. I am confident that the creation of this position signals to Washington and the world that now more than ever, GW Law School is the premier place to study government procurement law and policy."
Mr. Gordon, who has hit the ground running at GW Law, shares Dean Berman's enthusiasm for the groundbreaking role.
"While GW Law School has a long history of excellence in the area of government contracts, adding the position of associate dean should provide opportunities for building on that history to take the Law School even further," says Mr. Gordon. "Ultimately, we will want to find new ways to reach students, including potentially nontraditional frameworks, and new ways to explore connections between government contracts law and other disciplines, such as corporate, public international, and antitrust law."
Mr. Gordon adds that his recent career experience will shape his approach to knowledge-sharing and program development at GW Law.
"Procurement policy is intertwined with procurement law, but seeing things from the policy side has enriched my understanding of the importance and the impact of procurement law," says Mr. Gordon.
Mr. Gordon was confirmed as the administrator for federal procurement policy in November 2009. In that role, he developed and implemented acquisition policies supporting more than $500 billion of annual federal spending. Previously, he spent 17 years at the Government Accountability Office in various roles, including managing associate general counsel in the Procurement Law Division, deputy general counsel, and acting general counsel.
Mr. Gordon holds a BA from Brandeis University, an MPhil from Oxford University, and a JD from Harvard Law School. He also has studied in Paris; Marburg, Germany; and Tel Aviv, Israel. He is the author of numerous articles on procurement law and the bid protest process at GAO. He has served as a member of the GW Law School adjunct faculty.
"I can't imagine a more worthy successor to the Nash and Cibinic legacy than Dan Gordon," says program co-director Steven L. Schooner, referring to program founders and industry legends Ralph C. Nash Jr., and John A. Cibinic Jr. "He's a gifted teacher, a natural mentor, an accomplished scholar, and he's distinguished himself as one of the generation's most significant leaders in public procurement law and policy."
GW's government procurement law program has already enjoyed tremendous growth this year with the return of former FTC Commissioner and Chairman William A. Kovacic to the faculty, as well as the addition of Laura A. Dickinson, Oswald Symister Colclough Research Professor of Law. Established in 1960, the program is the only one of its kind in the United States, as well as the leading government procurement law program in the world.
"GW Law School is a world-class venue for teaching, research, and writing about government contracting," Mr. Gordon says. "I am returning to a community that I know and cherish."
Public Justice Advocacy Clinic Scores Victory
Professor Jeff Gutman with Public Justice Advocacy Clinic students in 2007.
A federal judge ruled in November that the Washington, D.C., school system has not fulfilled its duty to provide special education services to its eligible preschool-age children, calling for additional future court oversight. "Persistent failure to live up to their statutory obligations, a failure that works a severe and lasting harm on one of society's most vulnerable populations — disabled preschool children — is deeply troubling to the court."
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth is based on the 2005 class-action lawsuit of D.L. v. District of Columbia brought by seven D.C. children and their parents.
Professor Jeff Gutman and his students in the Public Justice Advocacy Clinic devoted many months in 2004 and 2005 to investigating these issues and then crafting a litigation strategy to address the failure of the D.C. Public Schools to provide special education services to preschool-aged children. Professor Gutman and his students drafted the complaint and Professor Gutman has remained one of the class counsels in this case.
"This outcome is a significant victory on behalf of some of the most vulnerable individuals in our local community, and Jeff and his students—now our alumni—deserve high praise indeed," said Dean Paul Schiff Berman.
Shakespeare in the Courtroom
Renowned Shakespeare scholar joins Dean Berman to discuss the legal universe of "The Merchant of Venice"
In November, Barry Edelstein, director of the Shakespeare Lab at New York City's Public Theater (right) joined Dean Paul Schiff Berman (left) and GW Law Professor Jeffrey Rosen for a panel discussion on the legal vision of "The Merchant of Venice."
Jessica McConnell Burt
On a Monday afternoon in October, while opening "The Quality of Mercy: Visions of Justice in The Merchant of Venice," GW Law Professor Jeffrey Rosen expressed hope that the informal panel discussion would "offer the pleasure of being at a really good dinner party."
"But we're not serving food," Dean Paul Schiff Berman added hastily.
Maybe not, but the guest list was impressive. Dean Berman, a former avant-garde theater director, was joined in the Michael K. Young Faculty Conference Center by Barry Edelstein, director of the Shakespeare Lab at New York City's Public Theater—whom NPR has called "one of the country's leading Shakespeareans"—for a wide-ranging conversation on "The Merchant of Venice's" legal vision and its conception of justice.
Mr. Edelstein, who directed a production of "The Merchant of Venice" in 1995 and produced the immensely successful 2008 Shakespeare in the Park production starring Al Pacino as Shylock, said that there is a "profound connection" between Shakespeare and lawyers.
Law, like the study of Shakespeare, is based on "canonical texts that have to be interpreted as the world changes," and theater professionals, Mr. Edelstein elaborated, approach Shakespeare in much the same way that scholars of constitutional law approach their canon. "Strict contextualists" attempt to reproduce the original atmosphere and context of the plays, while "activist directors" mediate and rework them through a modern lens.
Each time he's staged "The Merchant of Venice," Mr. Edelstein continued, he has received multiple unsolicited essays by attorneys on its interpretation. "Different writers," he clarified, to laughter. "It's almost like a cottage industry."
It's easy to see why lawyers would be tempted to weigh in. "The Merchant of Venice" is Shakespeare's most famous "legal" play, culminating in a courtroom scene wherein Shylock the Jew, the merchant of the title, demands a pound of flesh in contractual exchange for a debt owed.
The heroine, Portia, acting in defense of the borrower, delivers a soliloquy on "the quality of mercy" that leaves Shylock unmoved. At last she outmaneuvers him by conceding that, while he is entitled by law to his pound of flesh, his contract doesn't specify blood—so he'll have to extract it without shedding any.
This glib maneuver, though in Dean Berman's opinion "nonsensical from a legal standpoint," decides the case, and Shylock—in one of the Bard's more uncomfortable "happy endings" for a modern audience—is forced to forfeit his debt and to convert to Christianity.
The scene's legal incoherence, Mr. Edelstein suggested, is because the scene is "what Hitchcock called a MacGuffin," a plot device which is ultimately beside the point. "Shakespeare's looking at bigger questions," he said, including religious morality, the battle between metaphor and literalism, and
the psychological costs of doing justice."
"One of the things I love about theater is that there isn't merely one narrative voice," Dean Berman said. "Multiple voices express multiple stories and perspectives—and to me, that's what the law is, too. It's the only profession that's ethically obligated to articulate all points of view. And that sense of justice is the same thing you get in theater."
In Shakespeare, Mr. Edelstein concurred, "The truth emerges in the spaces in between those opposing viewpoints."
Advocating for Animals
More than 400 people from 40 states and seven countries attended the third annual No-Kill Conference at GW in July to discuss ending the killing of animals in shelters. Organized by GW Law Professors Joan Schaffner and Claudia Haupt, No Kill Advocacy Center Director Nathan J Winograd, and many others, including students, the conference sold out in just a couple of weeks. The organizers are currently planning for the fourth annual conference next summer at GW and hope to more than triple the attendance at next year's event.
At a Glance
Dinah Shelton Receives Honorary Doctorate
Dinah Shelton, Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law, received an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Stockholm this fall. Professor Shelton is president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and a member of the board of editors of the American Journal of International Law.
Students Parisa Manteghi, president of the Banking Law Society, and Sarah Razaq, director of Outreach for the Banking Law Society, flank former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker at the Taylor Memorial Lecture and Dinner in September. Host Jones Day invited a number of C-LEAF faculty, alumni, and students to attend the event.
SBA Hosts Fall BBQ
The Student Bar Association hosted a BBQ and meet-and-greet for Dean Paul Schiff Berman in September, complete with entertainment from GW's a capella group The Promissory Notes.
International Human Rights Day
Professor Ralph Steinhardt (left) joined Legal Adviser Harold Koh (right), Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner, and Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer for a conversation on human rights developments titled "2011: A Banner Year for Human Rights?" The event was part of the U.S. State Department's International Human Rights Day at GW Law.
GW Law Professors, Alumnus Named to Irish Legal 100
(Left to right) Professor Jonathan Turley, Professor Sean D. Murphy, and Kevin W. McCabe, JD '99, director of Sterne Kessler's biotechnology/chemical group and a litigator with the firm, are three of the 2012 Irish Legal 100—attorneys of Irish descent honored for their accomplishments and service. The October event was hosted by the Irish Ambassador to the United States H.E. Michael Collins at his residence in Washington.
September 11 Retrospective
Faculty and students discuss life and the law post-9/11
On Sept. 9, students and faculty came together to discuss security, privacy, civil liberties, life, and the law in the decade since the 9/11 terrorist attacks:
• Professor Orin Kerr (at podium) spoke about "Surveillance and Privacy After 9/11"
• Professor Laura Dickinson spoke on "Outsourcing Counterterrorism"
• Professor Michael Matheson addressed "The Response to 9/11: Unilateral or Collective?"
• Professor Peter Raven-Hansen discussed "Better Off Dead?: The Legality and Wisdom of Targeted Killing"
• Professor Gregory Maggs spoke about "Law in the 9/11 Decade: Help or Hindrance?"
Laura Dickinson Wins Prestigious Book Award
GW Law Professor Laura A. Dickinson's recent book, Outsourcing War and Peace: Preserving Public Values in a World of Privatized Foreign Affairs, is the winner of the 2011 IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law/Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberties Prize. Established in 2007, the award honors exemplary works of scholarship exploring the tension between civil liberties and national security in contemporary American society. In the coming months, Professor Dickinson will present her work at IIT Chicago-Kent, where the award originated.
"I'm thrilled and honored that my book was selected," says Professor Dickinson, who joined the GW Law faculty last summer and serves as Oswald Symister Colclough Research Professor of Law. "It's a reflection of the fact that the growing trend of military and security outsourcing raises critical questions about how we can protect our core values in this new era of privatization."
Published in January 2011, Professor Dickinson's book examines the increasing privatization of military, security, and foreign aid functions of government, considers the impact of this trend on core public values, and outlines mechanisms for protecting these values in an era of privatization. She observes that nations and international organizations have shifted a wide range of foreign policy functions to private contractors.
"The government's genie—the outsourcing of military support, diplomatic security, foreign aid, information technology, and governance—won't return to the bottle," says Steven L. Schooner, Nash & Cibinic Professor of Government Procurement Law and co-director of the Government Procurement Law Program at the George Washington University Law School. "Laura Dickinson's vision of a modern, privatized government that not only promotes critical public values, but also expands resources efficiently and responsibly, is as thought provoking as it is refreshing."
Prior to joining GW Law, Professor Dickinson was the Foundation Professor of Law and the faculty director of the Center for Law and Global Affairs at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. Her work focuses on human rights, national security, foreign affairs privatization, and qualitative empirical approaches to international law.
Helping to Shape the Law: Conversations with Legislators
Professor David Fontana (center) was invited to give testimony in December to the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution concerning "Judicial Reliance on Foreign Law." Joining Professor Fontana was (left) Andrew M. Grossman, Visiting Legal Fellow, The Heritage Foundation, and Professor Jeremy Rabkin, George Mason University School of Law.
In the span of just one month this fall, five GW Law professors testified before six U.S. Senate and House hearings on a variety of important issues:
• On Dec. 14, David Fontana testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution about "Judicial Reliance on Foreign Law."
• On Dec. 13, Stephen Saltzburg testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security about the "Criminal Code Modernization and Simplification Act Of 2011."
• On Dec. 7, Arthur Wilmarth testified before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs's Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection on "Enhanced Supervision: A New Regime for Regulating Large, Complex Financial Institutions."
• On Nov. 30, Alan Morrison testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights about "A Balanced Budget Amendment: The Perils of Constitutionalizing the Budget Debate."
• On Nov. 16, Arthur Wilmarth testified before the House Committee On Financial Services' Subcommittee On Financial Institutions & Consumer Credit and the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises joint hearing on "H.R. 1697, The Communities First Act."
• On Nov. 15, Orin Kerr testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on "Cyber Security: Protecting America's New Frontier."
Dean Berman has blogged about these hearings at the 20th & H Blog; join the conversation at: www.20thandh.org.