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DOJ Chief joins UDC Law as associate dean

Wednesday, April 1, 2015   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jordan Uhl
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Jordan Uhl
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jordan.uhl@udc.edu; P: 202-274-5257

Washington, D.C.—The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law (UDC-DCSL) is pleased to announce the hiring of Jonathan M. Smith as its new Associate Dean of Experiential and Clinical Programs. Smith is a graduate of Antioch School of Law, UDC-DCSL’s predecessor.

“Jon brings outstanding leadership, a passion for Justice and a remarkable track record of collaborative strategic planning and institution building. He will be a great addition to the law school as we move forward,” Shelley Broderick, UDC-DCSL Dean said. 

Smith will oversee UDC-DCSL’s nationally-ranked clinic program which has established itself among the nation’s elite programs. In March 2015, US News & World Report ranked UDC-DCSL’s clinic program seventh nationally.

Smith states, “It is an honor and a pleasure to join the talented team at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law.  The Law School is a critical institution in the movement for equal justice.  During law school and throughout the careers that follow, students from the Law School show an unparalleled dedication and commitment to client centered and community lawyering.”

Prior to joining UDC-DCSL, Smith was the Chief of the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. During his four and a half year tenure, the Section completed 18 investigations of civil rights violations by law enforcement, including the civil investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting. The Section also investigated patterns and practices of excessive force, illegal search and seizures and race bias in law enforcement in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Seattle, Washington; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Puerto Rico and elsewhere.

“The law is at its best when it is applied to eliminate inequality of opportunity and to create a just society,” Thomas Perez, friend of the School and U.S. Secretary of Labor, said. “[UDC-DCSL] is organized around this principle and has trained a strong cadre of effective lawyers who serve the needs of low-income and vulnerable people across this nation. Smith will bring years of civil rights and anti-poverty experience that will continue and strengthen this fine tradition.”

Smith has had an extensive career in civil legal services prior to his government service. He was the executive director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, the Public Justice Center in Baltimore, Maryland, and the D.C. Prisoners’ Legal Services Project. In each of these positions, in addition to providing program leadership, he handled individual, class action and impact litigation, engaged in legislative advocacy and in institutional reform efforts.

“What a catch for UDC! Jonathan Smith is a phenomenal lawyer and a wonderful human being,” Peter Edelman, chair of the D.C. Access to Justice Commission and professor at Georgetown University Law Center, said. “He's been brilliant at everything he's done, and always with the public interest driving him above everything else.”

Eric Angel, Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, said, “UDC is fortunate to have recruited Jonathan Smith as its newest dean. Jonathan is a deep thinker and visionary on poverty law issues.  After accomplishing so much on the national stage, we are excited that he will once again be devoting his extraordinary talents and indefatigable nature to D.C.'s low-income community.”

Smith’s tenure in his new role began on April 1, 2015.


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