During the week of May 23 to May 27, the School of Law hosted 8 undergraduate students and recent graduates of Huston-Tillotson University of Austin, Texas, for a pilot of what is hoped will become an annual Public Interest PreLaw Institute designed to inform, inspire and encourage pursuit of public interest legal careers. Over the course of the week, the students, accompanied by their Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Michael Hirsch, met with Professors and students from six of the School of Law's eight public interest legal clinics, civil rights attorneys, judges and members of the US Congress, as well as School of Law administrators. They also sat in on several different law school classes in the evening including Evidence, Race and the Law, Environmental Law, and Professional Responsibility.
Above, student Papa Diallo, originally from Senegal and currently a graduate of the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs as well as Huston-Tillotson University, speaks with General Counsel Craig Parker.
Stacie Mills, '09, describes her job and how she came to obtain it - via a law school sponsored internship!
Students received Metrorail passes and nearly all of the traveling over the course of the week was done on foot or via the metro train. Students stayed at the home of Daniel and Jane Solomon; a ten minute walk from UDC.
On the first day, the students met with UDC-DCSL Dean Shelley Broderick, Prof. John Brittain, and UDC-DCSL's Joe Libertelli, who co-directed the program with Dr. Hirsch. They then met with University General Counsel Craig Parker and UDC-DCSL alumna Stacie Mills, '09, who now works in the General Counsel's office. The two described the diverse tasks undertaken by general counsels for non-profit organizations and universities in particular.
Professor John Brittain regales the HT students with tales of his affirmative action legal battles.
Next, students met with Assistant Director of Admission Duane Tobias and UDC-DCSL Professor John Brittain, a former dean of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University and long-time civil rights attorney.
After lunch Professors Kemit Mawakana and Laurie Morin described the work of the School of Law's Small Business and Community Development Clinic, which supports various small businesses, non-profit groups, and tenant organizations who seek to purchase their buildings from landlords. The group then left with Dean Broderick for a United States Supreme Court "walking tour” courtesy of the Office of the Curator.
After that, they visited the offices of the Government Accountability Project, a non-profit whistleblower protection law firm that has long served as the only external clinic of the School of Law. Tom Devine, '80 alum and GAP's Legal Director, described whistleblower protection law.
Dean Shelley Broderick (right) with the HT students on the steps of the United States Supreme Court.
Tom Devine, '80, Legal Director of the Government Accountability Project.
Huston-Tillotson students in front of the Supreme Court.
The second day began with break-fast with Prof. Joe Tulman, Director of the Took Crowell Institute for At-Risk Youth at UDC, funded by the Crowell and Moring law firm. Prof. Tulman described some of the cut-ting edge issues dealt with by the clinic and its students and, in particular, their use of federal special education law as a means of breaking the "school to prison pipeline.” Next, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic Director, Prof. Keith Blair, and rising third year law student Jose Campos described that clinic's practice area as well as what it's like for a student to practice law with real clients. Next, Prof. William L. Robinson, founding Dean of the DC School of Law and former NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney who specializes in employment law, described his life and legal career spanning many decades.
Professor Joe Tulman, Director of the Took Crowell Institute for Juvenile Justice at UDC.
HT students being given a tour of the United States Courthouse by Judge Lamberth's law clerk, Chris Fillburn.
Professor William L. Robinson.
3L Jose Campos and Professor Keith Blair of the UDC-DCSL Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic.
Above, from left, the Hon. Royce Lamberth, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Dr. Michael Hirsch, John Mosley, Veronica Nemesubo, Grace Williford, Kassundra Evans, Albert Johnson, Margarita Gamez and Papa Diallo - with "the Honorable” Bridgett Lee, an HT alumna, seated. Below, from left, John Mosley, Grace Williford, Veronica Nemesubo, Margarita Gamez, Bridgette Lee, Wade Henderson, Kassundra Evans, Albert Johnson and Papa Diallo.
After a half hour long formal meeting in the conference room during which he described the work of the Leadership Conference as well as some of the underlying issues, Mr. Henderson gave the students a tour of his personal office, describing the significance of many of the historical items displayed on his walls.
On Wednesday, our students had breakfast with U.S. Senior Magistrate Judge Arthur Burnett, Sr., Director of the African American Drug Policy Coalition. Judge Burnett described his amazing career, how he was encouraged to apply to the University of Virginia Law School by Thurgood Marshall, and how he ultimately served as Bobby Kennedy's "spy” on the FBI's treatment of what Judge Burnett described as "the Martin Luther King Movement,” about which he was only recently given permission to speak by current U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Next, the students met with UDC-DCSL Prof. Andrew Ferguson, a former DC Public Defender, who described some of the numerous issues he encountered in his nine years serving low-income Washingtonians in what is widely viewed as the nation's most prestigious public defender service.
Former D.C. Public Defender and current UDC-DCSL Professor Andrew Ferguson.
After that, UDC-DCSL Dean Annamaria Steward spoke about her years in private practice as a plaintiff's attorney in one of the District's top medical malpractice law firms and about her services as the first African-American woman president of the 138 year-old Bar Association of the District of Columbia. Particularly gripping was her description of the pushback she encountered when she successfully pressed that organization for a formal apology for its many years of segregation and, in particular, for denying attorneys of color access to its vitally important law library.
United States Senior Magistrate Judge, Arthur Burnett, Sr.
Dean of Students Annamaria Steward, current President of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia.
After lunch, students met at the DC Superior Court with Criminal Division Presiding Judge Russ Canan, '76 who described both his work as a judge and his many years as a death penalty defense attorney in most of the Southeastern states.
Next, the students visited the DC Court of Appeals and met with the Hon. Inez Smith Reid, Associate Judge, who is a member of the School of Law's Foundation. She described her own amazing career - among other things, the founding Inspector General of the US Environmental Protection Agency and her work as the Corporation Counsel for the District of Columbia.
After that, the students returned to the DC Superior Court for a meeting with Chief Judge Lee Satterfield, who described the workings of that court and its several divisions, as well as his own career.
Finally, the students met with DC Superior Court with Magistrate Judge Diane Brenneman '82, an alumna of and former Family Clinic director at the Antioch School of Law, who described her work determining paternity, child support levels and much more before and after becoming a judge.
On Thursday morning, UDC-DCSL's Joe Libertelli led a discussion on combating stereotype threat on the LSAT and bar examinations. In the afternoon, the students traveled to Capitol Hill to visit Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), the ranking Democrat (and former longtime Chairperson) of the House Committee on the Judiciary. While Mr. Conyers was voting, the students met with several of his staff members including Joel Segal, a healthcare specialist, and Judiciary Committee Democratic Counsel Carol Chodroff, who described many of the issues confronting her office. At the end of a long voting session Mr. Conyers recuperated by putting on music and speaking with the students about his work.
After, the delegation journeyed down three floors to the office of fellow Texan, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee(D-TX) for a brief conversation—during which she recruited UDC-DCSL Prof. Brittain to assist her on a pressing education matter she felt needed litigating!
Professor Brittain joins in for a Team Conyers huddle.
Democrat Counsel Carol Chodroff describes Congressional procedures.
HT English major Albert Johnson listens attentively.
Above, the group with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Below, Rep. Conyers staffer Arif Haque describes Conyers’ Haiti policy. Below right, Kassundra Evans while waiting for Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.
Friday morning began with a breakfast meeting with alumnus Jan May '77, the longtime Legal Director for the American Association of Retired Person's Legal Counsel for the Elderly, which works on a wide variety of legal issues for low-income District of Columbia senior citizens.
After lunch students "debriefed” on their experiences with Prof. Hirsch and Joe Libertelli. Later, they were invited to a pool party at the home of Daniel and Jane Solomon, at whose guest house they had stayed all week. That evening, students dined at an African restaurant in Adams Morgan, visited the DC Vote mural of George Washington, and Joe Libertelli drove Dr. Hirsch and five students to visit the Lincoln Memorial.
Students did individual sightseeing on Saturday and returned to National Airport for their flights home.
For more information about the HBCU Public Interest PreLaw Institute please contact Joseph Libertelli, Director of Alumni Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (202) 274-7338.