2016 Olender Foundation Award Winners Announced
Monday, December 5, 2016
Posted by: Jordan Uhl
Front, From Left: Associate Dean Annamaria Steward, Jessica “JJ” Galvan, Erika Cummins, Dean Shelley Broderick. Back, From Left: Thomas F. “Matthews” IV, Perfecta Baffer, Jessica Christy, Michael Wilk.
Washington, DC—Each year, The Jack and Lovell Olender Foundation
recognizes law students and other national and locl heroes at an annual awards ceremony at the Kennedy Center. This year, Mr. Jack H. Olender will present the Earl H. Davis Award to six UDC David A. Clarke School of Law students for their outstanding service on behalf of clients in our clinical program. Please join us in congratulating these students.
Perfecta Baffer served as a student attorney in the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law General Practice Clinic. With her partner, Perfecta advised an HIV-positive client about an insurance buyout and the possible implications of omitting the client’s health status from an insurance company; researched custody arguments for a single mother; advised a mother on the implications of a recent arrest on a pending court issue; drafted and delivered Durable Power of Attorney, Last Will and Testament, and Healthcare Directives to four senior citizens; wrote a Student Loan Discharge Memo for a client; and wrote a Transfer on Death Deed Memo for Legal Counsel for the Elderly, explaining the requirements, revocation provisions, effects on the parties, property distribution provisions and advantages/disadvantages of the deed under D.C. law. Perfecta also assisted nine other persons with intakes and referrals to other legal aid organizations. Perfecta is a licensed civil engineer, a part-time evening student, military wife and mother of nine children.
Erika Cummins served as a student attorney in the Community Development Law Clinic, where she represented limited equity cooperatives and non-profit organizations. Erika represented the board of a limited equity cooperative that had previously acquired their building in partnership with the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA), but lost necessary developmental funding because of the economic downturn in 2008. As the lead writer of a comment to the DHCD, Erika argued that the department give preference and additional consideration to her client, and other similarly situated limited equity cooperatives in good standing, when awarding developmental funding to affordable housing projects. Less than a month later, when the new request for proposals for affordable housing projects was announced, it was clear that the DHCD implemented Erika’s recommendations. Erika also drafted new sections to the cooperative's by-laws and attended cooperative board meetings to discuss the new sections before they were ultimately passed by the membership. She also drafted provisions for a resolution for payment and a separate forbearance plan to avoid termination of low-income residents delinquent in their carrying charges; and advised non-profit clients on copyright protection of their literary works and possible risks to their trademark registration. Erika has served on the boards of the Student Bar Association and the Sports and Entertainment Student Lawyers Association, and is currently the Vice President of the Christian Law Society.
Jessica Christy served as a student attorney in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic in the spring of 2016 and continued as an Equal Justice America Fellow during the summer. As a student attorney, Jessica and her partner represented a legal permanent resident, a single mother of three US citizen children, in removal proceedings. After reviewing Jessica and her partner’s 45-page brief and over 90 exhibits, the government conceded the case and cancelled their client’s removal proceedings. Jessica also participated in UDC David A. Clarke School of Law service learning program, where she provided pro bono legal services to women and children asylum seekers detained at the South Texas Family Residential Center and helped prevent two families from being removed to very dangerous conditions in their countries of origin. As a Fellow, Jessica managed the entire clinic docket and provided various immigration-related pro bono services to low-income residents in the DC-area, and represented a client and her daughter in a merits hearing in Dallas, Texas. Jessica serves as the Vice-President of the Student Bar Association, Managing Editor for the UDC Law Review, President of the Environmental Law Society, and Co-President of the American Constitution Society. She is also a Dean’s Fellow, an Advocate for Justice Scholarship recipient, and a wife and mother of three.
Jessica “JJ” Galvan served as a Student Attorney in the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic, where she represented low-income elderly residents of a D.C. nursing home in a Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) and housing discrimination lawsuit to prohibit the sale of their home to a prestigious private school. JJ advocated for the residents in many forums, including injunction proceedings, a public solutions session hosted by UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, a D.C. Council Candidates’ Forum hosted by the DC Tenants’ Advocacy Coalition, and meetings with a D.C. Council member, the D.C. Long-term Care Ombudsman, and the D.C. Attorney General’s office. In addition to this work, JJ, and her clinic partner, successfully obtained a judgment for a tenant against the landlord for an illegal rent increase. JJ is Associate Editor of Law Review, Recording Secretary of the Student Bar Association, and a member of the Cahn Chapter of the Phi Alpha Delta Law fraternity. She also sings with the Samaritan Singers, a community based choir whose mission is to raise awareness of homelessness in the District.
Thomas F. “Matthews” IV served as a student attorney in the Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic, where he zealously advocated for his client’s right to a free, appropriate education. Matthews’ worked tirelessly to secure free transportation to and from a private school suited to meet his client’s special education needs; transition services – job training – for his client to prepare for entry into the work force upon completion of school; and a private tutor for supplemental educational support for his client. In addition to his clinic work, Matthews has served as a Teaching Assistant to Judge Milton Lee; a Researcher Assistant to Professor Andrew Ferguson, where he researched the application of the Fourth Amendment in minority communities; and a volunteer with the Clemency Project 2014, working to secure the early release of non-violent criminal offenders of drug-related offenses. Matthews has been elected to the Student Bar Association for the past three years, is an Associate Editor of the UDC Law Review, and was recently re-appointed as the student liaison to the ABA Standing Committee on Legal Aid and Indigent Defense. He is also a Dean’s Fellow, and a UDC David A. Clarke School of Law Continuing Merit Scholarship recipient for demonstrating academic excellence and commitment to service.
Michael Wilk served as a student attorney in the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, where he represented primarily immigrant clients before the IRS for two semesters. Michael successfully settled two cases before their approaching tax court dates, assisted a family who was the victim of tax fraud, and helped another family who had been wrongly taxed due to immigration status. All of his clients either had their tax bills lowered or received refunds from the IRS. Michael also served as a student attorney in the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic, where he prepared asylum cases and appeared in immigration court for a mother and daughter who had been targeted by gangs in Central America, and a survivor of Rwandan genocide. In addition to attending law school in the evenings, Michael works in an immigration law practice, where he assists with employment immigration and processing issues at U.S. land borders. Michael is a Student Member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and is a frequent volunteer with local immigrant rights organizations and free legal clinics. Michael is a Dean’s Fellow, was awarded the Cafritz Foundation Scholarship, received a UDC David A. Clarke School of Law Continuing Scholars Award for academic achievement, and is a Student Member of the UDC Law Career and Professional Development Committee.