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Olender Award Recipients

Monday, December 15, 2008  
Posted by: The Advocate
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Each year, the Jack and Lovell Olender Foundation hosts a gala awards banquet honoring "Peacemakers”, "Role Models”, "Advocates for Justice”, "Heroes in the Law”, "Generous Hearts” and more. Of particular interest to UDC-DCSL students is the Earl H. Davis Award, established in honor of Earl H. Davis, a trial lawyer whom Mr. Olender describes as a "champion of the underdog and a man of great compassion.” Each year, the scholarship is awarded to students from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law and the Howard University School of Law who epitomize Earl H. Davis’ spirit. UDC-DCSL students are selected for this scholarship based on their excellent clinical work and tireless commitment to aiding residents of the District of Columbia. In addition to being honored before hundreds of legal and civic leaders, students receive $1,000 cash stipends!

Here, below, are synopses of this year’s UDC-DCSL Earl H. Davis Award recipients:

Through her work with tenant associations and housing cooperatives in the Community Development Law Clinic, Liz Crow focused her keen legal skills on her clients’ dreams to own and operate their apartment buildings. She worked collaboratively with her colleagues and co-counsel in one client’s struggle to gain ownership of, and retain government subsidies for, an affordable housing apartment building in a rapidly gentrifying area. In another case, Ms. Crow’s research and analysis helped to change an agency’s interpretation of its own regulations and prevented a disabled woman from becoming homeless. In addition to the 415 hours she served in the Community Development Law Clinic, Ms. Crow is the Associate Editor of the Law Review, President of the UDC American Constitution Society, Community Relations Chair of the Student Bar Association, and Staff Writer for the Trilogy, UDC’s undergraduate student newspaper.

For more than 420 hours, Kevin Hill worked tirelessly for the residents of the District of Columbia through the Legislation Clinic. Through this clinic, Mr. Hill interned for the Council of the District of Columbia. For his final legislative project, he utilized the knowledge gained during the internship and class assignments to conduct a "Council” public hearing on the Child Abuse and Neglect Investigation Record Access Amendment Act of 2007. The bill would have required certain persons to report on suspected child abuse or neglect cases and, if adopted, would have had some unintended consequences. His presentation illuminated, in a very concrete way, the problems that imprecise legislative drafting can cause and how such problems can be remedied. Mr. Hill is a Dean’s Fellow, Associate Editor of the Law Review, Chair of OutLaw, and Chair of Student Services for the Student Bar Association. In addition to the hours he gave to the Legislation Clinic, Mr. Hill also served more than 570 hours in the HIV/AIDS Clinic.

Keri Nash was second seating a motion for summary judgment as soon as she arrived in the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic. While giving more than 500 hours of legal service to the residents of the District of Columbia, she had several full days of hearings on the same case and made a closing argument on an issue of first impression at the Office of Administrative Hearings. She became the master of cross examination and had her way with the opposing party. Ms. Nash has a will of steel and the tenacity of a snapping turtle. She did everything but pay the rent to forestall the eviction and relocate a woman with multiple disabilities, into Section Eight housing. Finally, she nudged a final decision out of the Rent Administrator and converted it to a collectible judgment of over $200,000 in Superior Court. Ms. Nash is the Publications Editor of the Law Review, Student Representative to the Faculty Admissions Committee, Chair of BLSA’s Academic Support Committee, and a Teaching Assistant for Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Contracts.

Ibidun Roberts represented numerous clients in the HIV/AIDS Clinic, including maternal grandparents seeking to make long-term custodial arrangements for several of their grandchildren in anticipation of their daughter's impending demise due to HIV. For more than 455 hours, Ms. Roberts demonstrated excellent legal skills and deep compassion for her clients, causing the judge presiding over the case to compliment her fine courtroom performance. Ms. Roberts is National Secretary of the National Black Law Students Association, Senior Editor of the Law Review, and President of the National Council of Negro Women- Greater Washington Millenium Section. In addition to her work in the HIV/AIDS clinic, Ms. Roberts has served more than 375 hours in the Community Development Clinic.

Jason Sims’ 618.5 hours of work in the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic saved numerous D.C. residents
thousands of dollars in tax assessments. From remedying the $5,000 tax assessment against a person
whose children were disallowed by the IRS, to settling a case before the United States Tax Court, which also stopped the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from seeking to collect the client’s remaining debt, Mr. Sims excelled. Most notably, Mr. Sims helped resolve the 17 year-old tax debt of a former D.C. paramedic, who ultimately was owed more than $14,000 by the District Government. Throughout his time in the clinic, Mr. Sims worked diligently to ensure that clients understood what happened, to ensure they were not in the same position in the future.

In addition to her hands-on work with potential whistleblower clients in the Government Accountability Project Clinic, Rebecca Wrightson reviewed the ten-year record of an ongoing environmental lawsuit against a state agency to prevent unsafe disposal of chemical warfare agents. She summarized an environmental impact statement and created an outline for public comment to a state environmental agency; analyzed environmental statutes and hazardous waste treatment permits to determine the validity of the opposing party's assertions; researched multiple jurisdictions’ legal standards as applicable to pending motions; and communicated with the client regarding impending environmental agency proceedings. Her 369 hours of significant and substantial work was integral in the creation of a petition for review. Ms. Wrightson is a Dean’s Fellow, Articles Editor for the Law Review, and a Teaching Assistant for Civil Procedure, Contracts and Criminal Law.

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