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April 28, 2009    

Michelle Sherrard


Supreme Court Litigator and Public Citizen Co-Founder Will Lead GW Law's Public Interest Initiative

WASHINGTON--The George Washington University Law School today announced the appointment of renowned attorney Alan B. Morrison to lead its public interest and public service law program. A generous gift of $3 million from the Annette M. and Theodore N. Lerner Family Foundation has endowed this new position, which will build on GW's expertise and reputation as a leader in public service and public interest law.

GW President Steven Knapp said, "The generosity of the Lerner Family has enabled us to create a position in the law school that exemplifies our University's commitment to and our students' passion for public service."
"GW Law has a long history of dedication to public service and a demonstrated commitment to public interest law," said Frederick M. Lawrence, dean of GW's Law School. "It was a particular pleasure to work with Bob Tanenbaum--a GW Trustee and Lerner family member on this project. I know that Bob's own decision to attend GW was based in large part on the strong reputation of our clinical programs. We agree that the selection of Alan Morrison provides a unique opportunity to put GW at the forefront of the growing interest among lawyers to participate in public service and make GW a recognized leader in cultivating this desire for professionals to be a part of larger causes. Together we feel that we have created a position that expands our ability to have an impact in the greater Washington community and beyond."

Morrison teamed up with Ralph Nader in 1972 to found and direct the Public Citizen Litigation Group, the litigating arm of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen. Over the span of his career, Morrison has argued 20 cases before the United States Supreme Court. One of his more well-known cases is Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha (1983) where he fought for a client with no real nationality to not face deportation from the U.S. The attorney general had suspended proceedings, but the U.S. House of Representatives created a resolution that ordered the man deported. Morrison persuaded the High Court that the legislative veto was unconstitutional--a holding that affected separation of powers and constitutional law and was just as ground-breaking in administrative and public interest law.

"Having spent most of my career in public interest and public service work, I am very excited about this opportunity to promote and advance these programs at GW Law School," said Morrison. "I hope to be able to imbue students with all the reasons that I and so many others have found it so rewarding to pursue those careers--and to make it possible for more students to do so."

GW Law has been on the forefront of public interest law since the field began to emerge about four decades ago. Opportunities for students to serve are numerous and include the Jacob Burns Legal Community Clinics, where students and faculty have assisted thousands of community members over the course of more than 35 years of service, and the GW Law Pro Bono Program, which recognizes students' dedication to providing free legal services to those in need. Other initiatives include faculty-and-student-run public interest projects in fields varying from animal welfare law to environmental protection to criminal justice reform and prisoners' rights.
Morrison received his undergraduate degree from Yale College and his law degree from Harvard Law School. In between his studies, he served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy. His early legal career includes working as an attorney at Cleary Gottlieb and as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. In 2004, Morrison retired from Public Citizen to work at Stanford Law School as a senior lecturer on administrative and public interest law. He has taught at several law schools including Harvard, American University, New York University, Tulane University and China's Fudan University.

A generous gift from the Annette M. and Theodore N. Lerner Family Foundation has endowed this new position. Under the leadership of GW Law alumni Theodore N. Lerner (A.A. '48, L.L.B. '50), Robert K. Tanenbaum (J.D. '82), Marla Lerner Tanenbaum (J.D. '83), as well as Judy and Mark Lerner (B.B.A. '75) and Edward and Debra Cohen, Lerner Enterprises has become the largest Washington, D.C.-area private real estate developer and is also the managing principal owner of the Washington Nationals Baseball Club. Ted Lerner has served on The George Washington University Board of Trustees and Executive Committee. Previous gifts from the Lerner Family Foundation funded the Annette and Theodore Lerner Family Health and Wellness Center at the University and the Theodore N. Lerner Hall at the Law School.  Robert Tanenbaum is a current member of the George Washington University Board of Trustees. The Lerner Family Foundation provides support to many local and international organizations.

Established in 1865 and located four blocks from the White House, The George Washington University Law School is the oldest law school in the District of Columbia. Accredited by the American Bar Association and a charter member of the Association of American Law Schools, the Law School enrolls approximately 2,000 students each year in its J.D. and LL.M. programs.

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