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Pathways to Practice Exemplars

Civil Rights and Equality Pathway

Alberto Ortiz

Alberto Ortiz, ‘16
US Department of Justice, EOIR, New York, NY

The Immigration & Human Rights Clinic sparked my interest in Immigration Law. I had the opportunity to represent a woman going through immigration proceedings and to prepare her for her individual merits hearing; it was truly an invaluable experience!

Alberto is in the US Department of Justice Honors Program, working as an attorney advisor for an immigration judge. He previously served as a judicial law clerk for DC Superior Court Judge Gerald Fisher. At UDC Law, Alberto performed his community service for CASA DC and had Summer Fellowships with the Public Defender Service of the District of Columbia-Mental Health Division and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office. His clinic work was in the Community Development Law Clinic and in the Immigration & Human Rights Clinic. He was Vice-President of the Latino Law Student Association and is now a member of the Florida Bar.

Dalton Collins

Dalton Collins, ‘15
Women’s Resiliency and Reentry Project, University Legal Services

With a resume of hands-on legal experience serving the District's poor, I graduated from UDC David A. Clarke School of Law in May 2015 with my current legal fellowship waiting for me.

Dalton interned with Tammy Seltzer, ’96, at the Jail and Prison Advocacy Project at University Legal Services during the summer following his 1L year. Due to his excellent work for her, and his overall success in law school, Tammy hired him back after he graduated and took the July bar examination.

"My law school experience was essentially a training ground for this position. During my first semester, I completed UDC’s 40 hour community service requirement by volunteering as a legal staffer for the Election Protection hotline, which is a non-partisan voter rights call center conducted by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. After my first summer at University Legal Services, I was a research assistant for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights working on a project to address human trafficking in the DC area with the District of Columbia State Advisory Committee. After that, I interned in the Public Benefits Division at AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly assisting low-income DC residents who are 60 or older access public benefits. Next, I completed nearly 400 hours in the UDC HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic where I argued before an Administrative Law Judge at the Social Security Administration's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review and successfully secured approximately $17,000 in back pay of disability benefits and the maximum monthly benefit for the remainder of the client's life. Continuing to work on the interaction of criminal justice and social benefits, I then participated in the Criminal Defense Clinic, successfully winning an adjudication of one client through motions practice and then successfully obtaining a pretrial diversion for another client. The capstone of my law school experience was a third year internship at Bread for the City where I engaged in the areas of family, landlord-tenant, and public benefits law for indigent residents of the District.“


Immigration Law and Human Rights Pathway

Ahn Vu

Ahn Vu, ‘16
US Immigration and Citizenship Services, Washington, DC

I am where I am today because of everything I learned from the endless list of decorated and dedicated law professors at UDC Law – with a special shout out to Professor Lee, Professor Cohen, and Professor Campbell!

Ahn is an honors dual degree graduate from George Mason University with a B.S. in Biology and a B.A. in Global Affairs-International Development. In addition, she was a Confucius Institute Scholarship recipient and studied abroad in Shanghai for a year. At UDC Law, she did her community service for DC SAFE (Survivors & Advocates for Empowerment), which works to support victims of domestic violence. Anh was a student attorney in the Immigration & Human Rights Clinic and General Practice Clinic. She also volunteered at the Dilley family detention center in South Texas on a Service-Learning trip. In addition to her academic and clinical activities, Anh was the president of the UDC Law Asian Pacific American Law Student Association, Senior Editor for UDC Law Review, Teaching Assistant for Contracts and Property courses, and had Summer Public Interest Fellowships at the US Environmental Protection Agency and at the US Federal Aviation Administration. She is a member of the DC Bar and is now a Refugee Officer with the US immigration and Citizenship Services. She travels internationally and domestically to interview refugees and asylum seekers.

Julia Pham

Julia Pham, ‘15
Associate Attorney, WMR Immigration Law Group

Working in the Immigration Law and Human Rights Clinic was the best experience of my law school career. I received excellent instruction and guidance from knowledgeable professors, and I was taught the exact skills that I use every day as an immigration attorney.

Community Service Project: In her first year, she interned with the Coalition to Abolish Modern Day Slavery in Asia, editing testimonials for submission with asylum applications.

Externships & Clerkships: Julia worked as a research assistant and later as a law clerk at Lawyers Against Human Trafficking. Her research culminated in two publications: one with the University of Pennsylvania’s Journal of Law and Social Change (2014), and the other with the Washington University Global Studies Law Review (Spring 2016). She interned with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, where she researched the disproportionate number of LGBTQ homeless youth being trafficked into DC. She then completed a summer externship with the U.S. Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review (Immigration Court in Baltimore). In her last year, she gained experience by clerking at a private firm working on visa petitions, asylum cases, and waivers.

Clinics: Immigration and Human Rights Clinic & HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic

Of Interest: Julia serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Boat People SOS, a national non-profit org whose mission is to "empower, organize, and equip Vietnamese individuals and communities in their pursuit of liberty and dignity.”


Family and Juvenile Law Pathway

AJ Amissah

AJ Amissah, ’16
Children’s Law Center, Washington, DC

Transferring into UDC Law was the best decision I could have ever made for my career. The experiences I gained from our clinics were invaluable.

AJ earned a B.A. in Political Science from Benedict College. He is now a special education staff attorney at Children’s Law Center. At UDC Law, AJ completed his community service hours with the Washington Bar Association, helping them with the Knowledge is Power series, a program to educate members of the community about constitutional rights involved in voting and in interactions with the police. While in law school, he worked for the US Department of Agriculture Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights as an Equal Employment Opportunity specialist. AJ is a co-founder of an organization called the Brown Bag Project DC, a nonprofit organization encouraging working professionals to give back to individuals experiencing homelessness. AJ participated in the Juvenile & Special Education and the Legislation Clinics. He is a member of the DC Bar.

Jennifer Laskin

Jennifer Laskin, ’15
Educational Advocate, Prince George’s County Public Defenders Office

During my three years as a full-time student, I integrated previous experience as a teacher and community advocate, focusing on the intersection of education and juvenile law to invoke educational rights and stem the School-to-Prison Pipeline.

Community Service Project: Ayuda

Post-1L Summer Public Interest Fellowship: Legal Aid agency in California

Post-2L Summer Internship: Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth

Clinics: Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic & Housing and Consumer Law Clinic

Leadership: Executive Board of Student Bar Association, National Lawyers Guild UDC-DCSL Chapter, and Latino Law Student Association


Solo and Law Firm Practice Pathway

Karrie Dodson

Karrie Dodson, ‘16
DiPietro Family Law Group, PLLC, Fairfax, VA

Not only did I have the best support system with the faculty and staff, but especially so with my peers. It wasn’t a competition with my classmates. We knew that the more we all succeeded as a whole, the more we could give back to our communities and the field of law!

Karrie, who is an associate for a small firm that specializes in family law, earned her B.A. in political science from the University of the District of Columbia. While at UDC Law, she earned her clinic credit protecting whistleblowers with the Government Accountability Project and represented juveniles with special educational needs in the Juvenile & Special Education Clinic. She is a member of the Virginia Bar.

Alex Smith

Alex Smith, ’15
Law Clerk, Detling & Cole LLC

I met my future employer, Chuck Detling, ’04, at a School of Law alumni event during my first year at UDC. He hired me as a paid intern that summer to work for his Marietta, Georgia small firm. We stayed in touch, and he hired me again after graduation!

Community Service Project: Took Crowell Institute for At-Risk Youth

Post-1L Summer Internship: Detling & Cole, LLC, Marietta, Georgia

Post-2L Summer Public Interest Fellowship: Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic

Clinics: Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic & Housing and Consumer Law Clinic

Of Interest: With the addition of Alex, Detling & Cole, LLC, now has boasts four UDC Law alumni: founding partner, Chuck Detling, ’04, Mackenzie Cole, ’12, and David Ivey, ’98.


Criminal Law Pathway

Naji Fenwick

Naji Fenwick, ’16
Defender Association of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

Pursuing a job as a public defender is not easy. One of the things that I believe gave me an edge was that by the time I had graduated, I had so much in-court experience.

Naji, now a public defender in Philadelphia, PA, earned a B.A. in History from the University of the District of Columbia. At UDC Law, his clinical work was in Community Development and in Criminal Law with DC Law Students in Court. He had Summer Fellowships with the Office of the Public Defender for Alexandria (Virginia) and for the Mecklenburg County Public Defender’s office (Charlotte, NC). He also interned at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. He was the President of the UDC Law National Lawyers’ Guild chapter and a member of the Black Law Students Association mock trial team. While in school he was also on the planning committee of He is a member of the Pennsylvania bar.

Julia Rupert

Julia Rupert, ‘14
Assistant State’s Attorney, Prince George’s County, MD

UDC’s emphasis on clinical legal education prepared me not only for the intellectual challenges of being an attorney, but for the professional and ethical challenges that arise in the workplace, as well.

Served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Nicholas E. Rattal of the Prince George’s County Circuit Court in Upper Marlboro, Maryland after graduation.

Post-1L Summer Public Interest Fellowship: US Attorney's Office in DC

Academic Externship: Rule 16 Student Prosecutor in the Prince George's County State’s Attorney’s Office

Clinics: Housing and Consumer Law Clinic & Immigration and Human Rights Clinic

Of Interest: Julia served as Editor-in-Chief of the UDC Law Review


Transactional Law Practice Pathway

Candace Holmes

Candace Holmes, ‘16
Schmittinger & Rodriguez, P.A., Dover, DE

The experience I gained was relevant and practical, and participation in the General Practice Clinic solidified my interest in Family Law. Upon graduation, I was confident that I had been prepared to practice law.

Candace, who earned a B.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Delaware, is now an associate attorney for a small law firm. At UDC Law, she participated in the Legislation Clinic and in the General Practice Clinic. She took advantage of the Rauh Summer Fellowship, working as a law clerk for Delaware Volunteer Legal Services. Candace also served as an intern in the Misdemeanor Crimes Unit for the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. In addition to her academic and clinical activities, Candace was an Associate and Senior Editor for the UDC Law Review and an Evening Division Senator for the Student Bar Association. Upon graduation from law school, Candace secured a judicial clerkship at the New Castle County Family Court in Delaware, and was admitted to the Delaware Bar in December 2016.

Sherman Taylor

Sherman Taylor, ‘14
Tax Manager, Aiken and Company, P.C.

I love my job! I have always enjoyed tax and came to DCSL in part due to the Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic. My experience at UDC definitely prepared me for success in this position.

Community Service Project: USDA Black Farmers Settlement Project

Summer Public Interest Fellowship: Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia

Academic Externship: Office of the Auditor-Master, DC Courts

Clinics: Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic & Community Development Clinic

Of Interest: Sherman met classmate and now wife Rosana Chavez, ’15, who works as a Prince Georges County, MD Public Defender!


Housing and Community Development Law Pathway

Brandon Wallace

Brandon Wallace, ‘16
Committee on Business and Economic Development of the Council of the District of Columbia, Washington, DC

My time at UDC Law was simply one of a kind. What I appreciated most about the law school is its diverse student body. When law classrooms are filled with people from different cultural, economic, spiritual, geographical, sexual, and racial backgrounds, the result is a legal mind that has been challenged and is ready to take on the complexities of the legal field.

Brandon is a Legislative Assistant for the Committee on Business and Economic Development of the District of Columbia Council. The Committee exercises oversight over several DC government agencies, including the Department of Small and Local Business Development, the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, and Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. While at UDC Law, Brandon served as President of the Student Bar Association (SBA) and chairman of the SBA’s Budget Committee. He completed his community service at Legal Aid Worldwide, and his clinics were in Community Development Law and General Practice Law. He served as a Rauh Summer Fellow at the US Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Administrative Law Judges and, after his second year, was an Equal Justice America Fellow at the UDC Law Community Development Law Clinic. He earned his B.A. from Howard University.

Madeline McKeller

Madeline McKeller, ‘14
Staff Attorney, Homeless Persons Representation Project

At UDC, you are responsible for your cases and real lives are hanging in the balance. Slowly but surely, you build the skills necessary to serve your clients in the best way possible, under the guidance of brilliant and experienced clinical professors.

Community Service Project: Research on DC public school literacy levels for TimeBanks USA

Post-1L Summer Public Interest Fellowship: Interned for DC Superior Court Judge Harold Cushenberry, Jr.

Post-2L Summer Internship: Worked on housing cases at Neighborhood Legal Services Program

Clinics: Juvenile and Special Education Law Clinic & Housing and Consumer Law Clinic

Of Interest: Madeline was Notes Editor of the UDC Law Review


Public Service/Public Policy Pathway

Matthew Kaplan

Matthew Kaplan, ‘16
US Department of Justice, EOIR, Washington, DC

The legal training at UDC is in a class of its own. Even before graduation, I gained courtroom experience in clinic it normally takes years of practice to develop.

Matt is an attorney in the US Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review’s (EOIR) Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer in Washington, DC. Matt was hired through the DOJ Attorney General’s Honors Program after a year-long judicial clerkship for the Senior Judges at the DC Court of Appeals. A graduate of Oberlin College, at UDC Law Matt served in the Housing & Consumer Law Clinic and in the Immigration & Human Rights Clinic. He undertook two Rauh Summer Fellowships, at the US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Compliance and Enforcement and as a judicial intern for Judge Reggie Walton in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. He is a member of the DC Bar.

Yvesner Zamar

Yvesner Zamar, ‘14
Legislative Aide, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)

As a result of my hands-on training at UDC Law, I have a holistic view on how the laws I work on here in Congress impact our nation, local governments, and the people we serve.

Internships: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of the Nation’s Capital; VetPAC; Federal Health and Families Team at AARP; Office of Congressman Alcee L. Hastings

Leadership: Served two years on NBLSA’s National Board as National Historian and National Attorney General

Of Interest: While at UDC Law, Yvesner was a part of the National Black Law Student Association’s delegations to Haiti and Canada.



more Calendar

Writing Wednesdays: Scholarly Writing IV: Refining Introductions and Conclusions

11/22/2018 » 11/23/2018
No Classes/University Closed (Thanksgiving Holiday)

26th Annual Rauh Lecture: Vanita Gupta on Civil and Human Rights

Writing Wednesdays: Writing with Accuracy: Word Choice

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