Duke Law Magazine, Summer 2020

Page 51

“An extraordinary advocate” David Gardner ’20


avid Gardner was always intent on a career in public interest law, but over his 1L summer in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, he was introduced to disability rights work. He was invited to work on a wide-range of cases, including matters involving HIV discrimination and accessibility, by attorneys who were clearly passionate about their work. “It felt like everyone there was trying to do the right thing that would lead to outcomes that make a difference in people’s lives,” he says. Gardner went on to spend three semesters in the Health Justice Clinic, which he calls his “rock” at Duke Law. His mentors, Clinical Professors Allison Rice, the clinic’s director, and Hannah Demeritt ’04, the supervising attorney, pushed him to build skills and reflect on his strengths and passion. “I know that I learn best from hands-on experience,” he says. “The skills and tips that I develop working on a case will stick with me and I’ll use them for the rest of my life.” The highlight of Gardner’s first semester in the clinic was representing a client before a Social Security Administration judge who had been denied years worth of disability benefits and had already been through one administrative hearing. Making the case for the client’s eligibility involved gathering and sifting through thousands of pages of medical records to identify details that supported his claim of an affliction that prevented him from working. Under Demeritt’s supervision, Gardner crafted a brief that included a statement from the client’s longtime doctor. At the hearing, he handled the opening argument, the direct examination of the client, and the cross-examination of the government’s vocational examiner. The judge made a fully favorable ruling for the clinic’s client, awarding him thousands of dollars in back pay as well as ongoing disability benefits.

David Gardner led a discussion on working in the federal government at the 2018 Public Interest Retreat.

St. Paul, Minn. Political science and economics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he was student body president Pre-law Supported and mentored Minneapolis high school students who would be first in their families to attend college through the nonprofit College Possible Duke Law The John R. Parkinson Memorial SchOlarship Law Scholarship Leadership Managing editor, Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy; co-director, Cancer Pro Bono Project; assistant director, Lawyer on the Line Clinics Health Justice Clinic (basic, advanced, and independent study); Immigrant Rights Clinic Postgrad Entering the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division through the Legal Honors Program Hometown


Duke Law Magazine • Summer 2020


Articles inside

2020 Law Alumni Association awards

page 67

Sua Sponte

page 66

Alumni Notes

pages 59-65

Danielle French ’21, T’18

page 58

Frances Fulk Rufty ’45

pages 55-57

Dan Scheinman '87

pages 53-55

David Gardner '20: "An extraordinary advocate"

pages 51-52

Carrying Experience Into Practice

pages 48-50

Duke Law Clinics

pages 36-47

Remembering Francis E. McGovern

pages 34-35

John Weistart '68

page 33

Jane Wettach

pages 31-33

Christopher Schroeder

pages 28-30

Faculty Notes

pages 25-27

Duke awards distinguished professorships to Farahany, Frakes, and Sachs

pages 22-24

Faculty Focus: H. Timothy Lovelace, Jr.

pages 20-22

Faculty Focus: Gina-Gail Fletcher

pages 18-20

Graduation 2020

pages 16-17

LENS 25: 25th Annual National Security Law Conference

pages 14-15

Notable & Quotable: Reflections on racial justice and police reform

pages 12-13

Duke Law hosts D.C. event honoring women’s advancement in legal profession and at helm of journals

pages 9-11

A semester like no other

pages 4-8

From the Dean

page 2
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