Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics Fall 2015 Newsletter

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A Semester in an Australian Law School Professor Jeffrey S. Gutman, Director of the Public Justice Advocacy Clinic, spent the spring 2015 semester teaching law in Australia. He was on a joint sabbatical in Sydney with his wife, Stacy Brustin, who teaches in the clinic at Catholic University Columbus School of Law. During the sabbatical semester, their daughter, Julia, attended eleventh grade in a high school in North Sydney. We caught up with Professor Gutman to find out more about his experience in Australia.



Notes from the Clinical Dean By Phyllis Goldfarb

A Sydney, Australia from the window of Professor Gutman’s office

How did you end up in Australia?

Several years ago, the dean of the Australian Catholic University (ACU) Thomas More Academy of Law visited Catholic University’s law school and met my wife, Stacy. He made a casual comment along the lines of “If you ever want to teach in Australia, give me a call.” He probably didn’t expect a response, but Stacy did respond, and as a result we spent seven months there, from January through July 2015.

What did you teach while you were at ACU?

I developed a new course called Introduction to American Law and Legal Systems. I taught the course at ACU’s Melbourne campus and a modified version of it at ACU’s North Sydney campus, where Stacy and I shared an office. All told, I supervised about 18 research papers. continued on page 20

Zen Buddhist story depicts a rider on a horse galloping at a tremendous pace. An onlooker shouts, “Where are you going?” The rider replies, “I don’t know. Ask the horse.” In some respects, legal educators are riding that horse. Legal education and the legal profession are changing rapidly. Although it’s difficult to know now exactly where we are heading, current societal shifts require our attention. How do these challenges look from the perspective of law school clinics? While those of us privileged to be affiliated with clinics are concerned about the continued on page 3


Peter Meyers Named Professor Emeritus Professor Peter Meyers retired from full-time teaching at the end of the 201415 academic year. He reflects on his longtime affiliation with GW Law.


rofessor Peter Meyers’ story is also a story about GW Law, a place where he spent more than 20 years as both student and teacher. He took his first job at GW Law as Professor John Banzhaf’s legal assistant. After spending time working for several nonprofit organizations, he returned to GW Law in 1982 to teach a Drugs and the Law class with Eric Sirulnik, which he ultimately took over after Professor Sirulnik retired. He founded the Vaccine Injury Clinic at the law school in 1994 as an Adjunct Professor of Clinical Law and eventually rose to become an Associate Professor of Clinical Law in 1998 and a Professor of Clinical Law in 2000. Professor Meyers’ GW Law story began when he was a law student in 1971. “It was an exciting time to be in law school in Washington,” he says. “Groups like Banzhaf’s Bandits and Nader’s Raiders were trying to get the government to be more pro-consumer and pro-environment.” Intrigued by groups advocating for consumer rights, Professor Meyers quickly became involved in public interest law and was elected President of the Student Consumer Law Group. Professor Meyers and fellow members of the Student Consumer Law Group memorably argued for consumer rights and corrective advertising against the Federal Trade Commission. “We helped change the law,” Professor Meyers said. “If an advertiser makes false claims, the FTC may say that later they have to run ads admitting that certain claims were not accurate. Those are the kinds of things that motivated me to ask: What can I do to make things better? I tried to use my legal training to do new and exciting things on behalf of victims and underdogs.” After Professor Meyers finished law school, he and Professor Banzhaf were involved in United States v. Students

Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs Phyllis Goldfarb, Aaron Meyers, JD ’11, and Professor Peter Meyers

Challenging Regulatory Agency Procedures (SCRAP), a landmark decision in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that the members of SCRAP—five GW Law students—had standing to sue under Article III of the Constitution to challenge a nationwide railroad freight rate increase approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission. “This was a great precedent for the environmental movement and also raised questions of if and when citizens can challenge their government,” Professor Meyers said. This early work taught Professor Meyers that while advocating on behalf of victims and underdogs can at times seem like a losing battle, more often than not, losing is winning. He cites the SCRAP case as an example: Even though he and the students lost the lawsuit, they were still able to effect changes in the agency. “So much of litigation is issue raising to change public opinion,” said Professor Meyers. “I dealt with this during my time as chief counsel at the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORMAL). With marijuana reform, you lost a lot of your cases, but you were educating the public and getting your message out.” Professor Meyers also credits his early work with getting him involved in criminal defense. “At NORMAL, my work was policy oriented, but it led me to criminal


defense,” he said. “I didn’t think the courts should be spending so many of their resources on prosecuting drug cases.” After spending several years working as the Chief Counsel of NORMAL and the Director of the Center for the Study of Drug Policy, Professor Meyers returned to GW Law and began teaching the Drugs and the Law class with Professor Eric Sirulnik. The two professors enjoyed infusing the class with creative and interactive elements. Students in the class would conduct mock trials, hearings on search and seizure motions, and Supreme Court arguments on drug issues. One of the mandatory requirements for Professor Meyers’ students in the Drugs and the Law class is to spend a morning in D.C. Superior Court. As part of their assignment, his students have to visit two courtrooms: the arraignment court, where everyone who gets arrested is charged or released; and the drug court, which operates on more of a therapeutic model. “Many of the law students who take my seminar have never been to a courthouse before,” said Professor Meyers. “Some of them thank me for forcing them to spend a day in court, because it can be a revelation.” This unique class requirement is a testament to Professor Meyers’ interest continued on page 23


Professor Meier Awarded Major NIJ Grant


rofessor Joan Meier has been awarded a grant of half a million dollars over three years by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). She is using the grant for empirical research on how family courts are deciding custody cases involving abuse allegations. The grant will enable the creation of a comprehensive database of these family court cases to help reveal whether bias exists against women alleging abuse. In particular, Professor Meier will examine whether courts are relying on a theory of “parental alienation” to remove children from protective mothers and place them with fathers against whom abuse allegations have been made. Once the database is created, she will make it available to support others’ research into issues illuminated by the collected cases. n

Clinical Dean from page 1

future, a message we are hearing is that the fate of legal education is increasingly tied to the fate of clinical education. The American Bar Association (ABA) is one of the messengers. In its new accreditation standards for law schools, the ABA has mandated that every law student receive six credits of experiential education before graduating. Some state bars—most notably, California—require even more experiential learning before entering the profession. Clearly, legal employers are deepening their reliance on legal educators for preparing students to enter the profession. The world is telling legal education to sharpen its focus on what lawyers do. Of course, one of the things lawyers do is think. Thinking like a lawyer— bringing logic and precision to legal analysis, reasoning from legal authority, and using related cognitive skills—is a vital part of a lawyer’s skill set and remains a significant learning goal for legal

Professor Joan Meier’s research will help increase knowledge about family court decisions.

education. But the lawyer’s array of skills is broad. That is the awareness underlying clinical education. Clinics sit comfortably within the dual identity of legal education as both an academic and a professional school. That dual identity, which fuses the intellectual and the practical, supports a vision for an integrated and sequenced three-year law school curriculum organized around lawyering and all that it entails. This curricular vision promises to help legal education flourish for years to come. As all law schools, including GW Law, contemplate their overall curriculum goals and structures, and where experiential learning fits within them, the clinics will continue to engage students in realworld lawyering, educating them through service to others, and instilling a sense of professional purpose. While we consider the future, we are immersed in the work of the present.

Before our present fades too far into the past, we bring you this report on the work of legal education and legal service in which the clinics are immersed. Whether winning clemency from President Obama for a man serving an unduly long sentence for a nonviolent offense, attaining asylum for a client fleeing violence in her home country, increasing safety for a victim of domestic violence, helping support microbusinesses in the community, securing compensation for therapeutic care for someone injured by a vaccine, or obtaining unemployment benefits for a low-wage worker, clinic students, supervised by clinical faculty, understand practicing with a purpose. In these pages, you will read about these stories and more, as clinical legal education prepares today’s students for the profession that lies just beyond the horizon. n



Selected Presentations and Publications Professor Laurie Kohn published “Money Can’t Buy You Love: Valuing Contributions by Nonresidential Fathers” in the Brooklyn Law Review (forthcoming 2015). She also published a book review of Jill Elaine Hasday’s Family Law Unfettered, Family Law Reimagined (Harvard University Press 2014) in the Journal of Law, Technology, and Public Policy (forthcoming 2015) and provided commentary on a new study of domestic violence protection orders for the Violence Research Digest ( June 2015). In September 2014, Professor Kohn presented her paper on valuing contributions of nonresidential fathers at the Clinical Writer’s Workshop sponsored by the Clinical Law Review and held at New York University (NYU) School of Law. She presented her paper “Who Holds the Power? The Enforcement of Custody Provisions of Domestic Violence Protection Orders” at the Mid-Atlantic Clinical Theory Workshop in March 2015 and at the D.C.-area Junior Clinicians Workshop in June 2015. At the Conference on Clinical Legal Education of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), held in Palm Springs, CA in April 2015, Professor Kohn served as a presenter at a workshop on collaboration in clinical education. In December 2014, she trained new judges in the D.C. Superior Court on the law and procedures of civil protection orders.

Professor Jessica Steinberg published “Demand Side Reform in the Poor People’s Court,” 47 Connecticut Law Review 741 (2015). In September 2014, Professor Steinberg presented “Demand Side Reform in the Poor People’s Court” in the faculty colloquium series at Cornell Law School. In July 2014, she also presented the paper at the annual conference of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools. Professor Steinberg presented “Non-Adversarialism and Substantive Justice: An Empirical Look at an Experimental Housing Court,” as a work-in-progress at the AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education in Palm Springs, CA in April 2015. She also presented it at the University of Wisconsin for an April 2015 workshop focused on applying empirical methods to access-to-justice issues. In June 2015, she presented “Adversary Breakdown and Judicial Role Confusion in ‘Small Case Civil Justice’” at the D.C.-area Junior Clinicians Workshop.

“The Price of Paid Prioritization: International Law Consequences of the Failure to Protect Net Neutrality by the United States,” co-authored by Professors Arturo Carrillo and Dawn Nunziato,

Professor Laurie Kohn speaks to students about opportunities to participate in clinics.


Professor Arturo Carrillo

will be published in the Georgetown Journal of International Law (forthcoming 2015). Professor Carrillo also published a book chapter titled “Verdad, justicia y reparaciones en Colombia: El camino hacia la paz reconciliacion?” in La Construccion de La Paz en Tiempos de Guerra (Editorial Universidad del Rosario, Bogota 2014). In September 2014, Professor Carrillo presented “Exploring the Right to be Forgotten” at the American Society of International Law in Washington, D.C. On October 23, 2014, he was co-organizer of two events at GW, serving as moderator of a panel at the Global Internet Freedom and Net Neutrality Conference and participating in the panel “Net Neutrality in the United States and Around the World: Fundamental Right or Obstacle to Doing Business?” presented as part of a university seminar on emerging issues in Internet governance. Professor Carrillo served as an international expert at three workshops on litigation and Internet freedom, organized by the Rule of Law Institute of the American Bar Association (ABA). He participated in a workshop in Indonesia in January, in Malaysia in February, and in the Philippines in March 2015.

Associate Dean Phyllis Goldfarb, published an article titled “Demography and Democracy,” 17 Berkeley Journal


Professor Susan Jones

of African-American Law & Policy 48 (2015). She also published “Race, Exceptionalism, and the American Death Penalty: A Tragedy in Many Acts,” 48 New England Law Review 673 (2014). In addition, she served as a manuscript reviewer for the new book Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World (2015), published by Lexis/Nexis as a companion volume to Best Practices for Legal Education (2007). In April 2015, Dean Goldfarb was a plenary presenter on a panel about clinical pedagogy at the annual AALS Clinical Legal Education Conference in Palm Springs, CA. In May 2015, she spoke at the Law & Society Association’s annual meeting in Seattle, WA, on a panel about feminism and the Supreme Court. In March 2015, she was a speaker on a Women’s History Month panel titled “Laboring On: A History of Women’s Employment Issues and the Supreme Court,” held at Catholic University Columbus School of Law. In September 2014, Dean Goldfarb was an organizer and working group facilitator for the Clinical Law Review’s Clinical Writer’s Workshop held at NYU School of Law. In October 2014,

Dean Goldfarb served as a commentator on works in progress presented at the Southern Clinical Conference, held at William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, VA. With Professor Susan Jones, she commented on a paper presented at the February 2015 Junior Faculty Workshop on Business Law, organized by Professor Lisa Fairfax and the GW Center for Law, Economics & Finance. The paper by Professor Alina Ball of UC Hastings College of the Law concerned teaching critical theory in transactional law clinics.

Professor Susan Jones published “Viewing Value Creation by Business Lawyers Through the Lens of Transactional Legal Clinics” (with Jacqueline Lainez and Debbie Lovinsky), 15 UC-Davis Business Law Journal 49 (2014). She also published “Alleviating Poverty—What Lawyers Can Do Now” in “The Many Faces of Poverty in America,” the August 2014 issue of Human Rights, a publication of the ABA’s Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities. Professor Jones gave two presentations at the conference of the International Journal of Clinical Legal Education held

in July 2014 in the Czech Republic. The first was titled “Growing Transactional Clinics Around the Globe” and the second concerned the role of clinics in creating sustainable employment for people with criminal records. In October 2014, she presented a legal issues module at the Global Entrepreneurship Conference held at GW. At the annual transactional clinic conference in Kansas City, MO in April 2015, Professor Jones gave a presentation on teaching methods for transactional clinics. At the annual AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education held in April 2015 in Palm Springs, CA, she moderated a plenary panel on transactional clinics and social justice and presented a concurrent session (with Friedman Fellow Alice Hamilton Evert) on applying insights from leadership coaching to transactional clinics.

Professor Joan Meier’s book chapter titled “Differentiating Domestic Violence Types: Profound Paradigm Shift or Old Wine in New Bottles?” will be published in Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Child Custody, Volume II. In June 2015, her article “Johnson’s Differentiation Theory: Is It Really Empirically Supported?” was published online for the Journal of Child Custody at http://www.tandfonline.com/ loi/wjcc20. In October 2014, Professor Meier spoke at the World Bank on “At-Risk Children in the Family Courts” for a panel titled “Parenting in the Aftermath of Family Conflict and Domestic Abuse.” Also in October, she addressed the Maryland Children’s Alliance at the Mid-Atlantic Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, speaking on “An EvidenceBased Approach to Cross-Allegations of Alienation and Abuse,” and “Challenges of Child Protection in Custody Courts.” Professor Meier presented “Civil Protection Orders for Sexual Assault Survivors” to the Inns of Court in the District of Columbia in March 2015. continued on page 6



Selected Presentations and Publications from page 5

In March 2015, she also gave a presentation on abuse survivors in family court at the Interdisciplinary Center on Family Violence at the University of California, Irvine. In April 2015, she presented “Keeping Children Safe in Custody Cases with Domestic Violence” at the Widener Symposium on Strengthening and Protecting Families. In November 2014, Professor Meier spoke about abuse and alienation at a Temple University Beasley School of Law conference commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act. In February 2015, Professor Meier discussed the amicus brief filed by the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP), a nonprofit she founded, in the case of Elonis v. U.S. at a conference on “Threats, Free Speech, and the Law in the Internet Age” held at Brandeis University. Professor Meier discussed the structure and pedagogy of the GW Domestic Violence Project on a “Teaching Domestic Violence” panel presented at the annual meeting of the Law & Society Association held in June 2014 in Minneapolis, MN. In May 2015, she presented “Child Custody Outcomes in Cases Involving Parental Alienation and Abuse Allegations” at the Law & Society Conference held in Seattle, WA.

Friedman Fellow Alice Hamilton Evert published “A Sustainable Approach to Riverfront Development: Lessons for D.C.’s Anacostia River,” in 23 ABA Journal of Affordable Housing and Community Development Law 259 (2015). In April 2015, she gave a presentation on pedagogies for transactional clinics with Professor Susan Jones at the transactional clinical conference in Kansas City, MO. At the AALS Conference on Clinical Legal Education in Palm Springs, CA in April 2015, she presented a session with Professor Jones on applying insights from leadership coaching to transactional clinics.

In October 2014, Friedman Fellow Claire Donohue Prono spoke on a panel titled “Teaching Social Justice Through Professional Responsibility” at the Society of American Law Teachers’ conference at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In September 2014, she presented a paper on social justice pedagogies for clinical education during the Clinical Writer’s Workshop at NYU School of Law. She also presented the paper at a works-in-progress session of the Southern Clinical Conference, held in October 2014 at William & Mary Law

Friedman Fellows (l-r) Claire Donohue Prono, Mira Edmonds, Alice Hamilton Evert, Joe Thorp

School in Williamsburg, VA. The article, titled “Client, Self, Systems: A Framework for Integrated Skills-Justice Education,” has been accepted for publication in Volume 29 of the Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics (2016).

“Nolle and Reinstitution: Opening the Door to Regulations of Charging Power,” an article by Friedman Fellow Joe Thorp, has been accepted for publication in Volume 71 of the Annual Survey of American Law published by NYU School of Law. n

Dean Phyllis Goldfarb, Professor Anne Olesen, and Adjunct Professor Paula Scott discuss clinical programs.



Clinic Alumni Spotlight Cynthia Ludvigsen, JD ’78

clinic and was assisted by three attorneys who supervised us and went to court with us. I recall handling administrative hearings for denial of Social Security benefits; assisting a senior in evicting a tenant who was setting fires; and handling breach of contract cases, consumer matters, and marriage dissolutions. Do you have a sense of how that differs from the experiences of current students?

Cynthia Ludvigsen, JD ’78 Cynthia Ludvigsen, JD ’78, is Superior Court Judge for the State of California in the County of San Bernardino. She intended to become a journalist after law school, but her career took a turn after she enrolled in a GW Law clinical program, where she discovered a passion for helping clients and the intellectual stimulation of representation. She went on to practice law in California for 18 years before being appointed to the local Municipal Court bench by Governor Pete Wilson in the summer of 1997. She was elected a year later to the Superior Court. Judge Ludvigsen answered a few questions about her experience in the clinics, her work, and her advice for current students. What was your clinical experience like?

I took a clinic that focused on assistance to senior citizens. Our clinic certified us to practice in the District of Columbia trial court, as long as an attorney was in the courtroom to observe and supervise us and, I assume, step in if needed. Professor Sirulnik was the director of the

We did not have clinic classes as students do today. We worked in the clinic office, and as clients were screened and accepted, they were assigned to a student. We did our research, drafted pleadings, and met with the supervising attorneys individually to review our work before filing it with the court. We helped each other informally and as we encountered one another at the clinic or in the library. As I understand from talking with Pallavi Rai Gullo and Dean Phyllis Goldfarb (and from my tour last year of the clinic facilities), students now meet as a class on a regular basis to review their cases, collaborate, and receive instruction in the legal and procedural aspects of their cases—I think this is a wonderful development. Many of the clinics now also address major legal issues, both nationally and internationally. I would have loved to have had the chance to work in a human rights or international law clinic. Do you have a most memorable experience from your clinic days?

Definitely. Please understand that I signed up for the clinic because I was scared to death to speak in front of class, a group, or almost anyone. Even though I did not at that time intend to practice law, I knew I had to get past this fear, so I signed up for the clinic thinking it would force me to make court appearances and learn to speak in front of others. However, I did not want to be the first one to do it. On the first day of our class, the clinic had a couple of cases that had already been accepted, and we were asked to volunteer to take them. I certainly was not going to volunteer—I planned to wait until it could not be avoided and to

possibly be the last student in the group to take a case. The first case involved an elderly gentleman who was a carpenter and had not been paid for a custom cabinet he built for a customer. One of the students volunteered and as he was handed the file, one of the attorneys told him the client’s primary language was Italian and to let them know if they needed to get an interpreter. At the end of the meeting those of us who did not have cases assigned were assured we would get one within a week or two. As we were walking out I told the student who had taken that first case that I spoke Italian and would be happy to help interpret. One of the supervising attorneys overheard that and said, “Wait a minute. You take the case, and we’ll find another one for the other student. That only makes sense.” Petrified, but having no choice, I prepared the pleadings, arranged for service of the case, prepared my client for court, and presented the case in the District of Columbia Small Claims Court. My client was awarded a judgment of $900 plus costs. I sent a very polite but businesslike letter to the defendant giving him a certain amount of time to pay the judgment. He refused to pay, which surprised me because he was the vice president of an international engineering firm. So I prepared a wage garnishment and had it served on his employer. As I recall, he started calling me before the person who served the wage garnishment had left the building. He told me if I would come to his office, he would give me a check for my client. I told him we would accept only certified funds and he would have to bring them to the clinic office, which he did that same afternoon. My client was so grateful. It was the most expensive cabinet he had ever built (this was 1977), and he had custom ordered wood and needed the money to pay his bills. We became friends, often having dinner together and speaking Italian, which gave me the opportunity to keep up those language skills. continued on page 22



Kudos Professor Susan Jones was appointed Vice-Chair of the Economic Justice Committee of the ABA Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities. She is also a member of the Executive Committee of the AALS Section on Transactional Law and Skills and serves as Co-Chair of the Transactional Clinics Committee of the AALS Clinical Section. Professor Jones is a member of the Economic Impact Council of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity, which is overseeing the first economic impact study of U.S. microbusinesses. The Small Business and Community Economic Development Clinic, taught by Professor Jones and Friedman Fellow Alice Hamilton Evert, in partnership with the American University, Washington College of Law Intellectual Property Clinic and Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts, hosted a “pop-up clinic” in the fall and spring semesters for artist-entrepreneurs seeking business and intellectual property law services. Under the supervision of clinical faculty, students provided brief advice to artists and creative entrepreneurs on a range of legal matters.

Associate Dean Phyllis Goldfarb is an Editor-in-Chief of the Clinical Law Review. She also serves on the AALS Committee on Clinical Education, which advises the AALS Executive Committee on clinical education issues.

Dean Goldfarb speaks with a judicial delegation from Uzbekistan.

Dean Goldfarb was quoted in The Boston Globe on sentencing in the Boston Marathon bombing case. In April 2015, she was quoted in The New Yorker about use of the federal death penalty for a crime committed in Massachusetts, a state that has rejected the death penalty. In March 2015, Dean Goldfarb spoke about clinical legal education to a delegation of justice professionals from Uzbekistan who visited the Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics.

In June 2014, Dean Goldfarb and Professor Joan Meier participated in the Roundtable on Legal Clinics, sponsored by the Office on Violence Against Women of the U.S. Department of Justice. Professor Meier’s six-minute video, in which she was interviewed about family court cases involving abuse claims, won honorable mention in the Gender-Based Violence Science Fair Contest. In September 2014, Professor

Meier conducted three trainings for the Delaware Statewide Joint Judges’ and Commissioners’ Meeting on abusive parents, parental alienation, and abusers in custody litigation. In June 2014, Professor Meier presented “Current Cases: Legal Appeals Impacting the Domestic Violence Field,” in a webinar for Jewish Women’s International. In April 2015, she presented “Protecting Your Client’s Access to Appeal” in a webinar titled “Fleeing for Safety: Representing Battered Respondents in International Child Abduction Cases Under the Hague Convention.” Professor Meier’s op-eds on the Supreme Court case of Ohio v. Clark appeared in the San Francisco Daily Journal in October 2014 and June 2015. She also blogged about the case in The Huffington Post. In June 2015, she was interviewed by CBS News and quoted in The Wall Street Journal about the case of Elonis v. United States, involving online threats.

Professor Laurie Kohn was appointed to the Domestic Relations Rules Committee of the D.C. Superior Court.

Dean Goldfarb speaks with students during an admitted students reception.


In June 2015, Professor Jeffrey Gutman and attorneys from the New York City law firm of Neufeld, Scheck & Brustin conducted a five-day trial at D.C. Superior Court seeking compensation under the D.C. Unjust Imprisonment Act for a client who spent 28 years in prison for a murder that he did not commit.


Legal academics from Indonesia visited the clinics in March.

In March 2015, Professor Anne Olesen hosted at the clinics a delegation of attorneys and law professors from Tajikistan. Professor Olesen, Dean Goldfarb, and Friedman Fellow Joe Thorp spoke to the delegation about clinical legal education in the United States.

In 2014-15, Professor Peter Meyers taught several classes on expert witness testimony for a postdoctoral fellowship program in Forensic Psychiatry at GW Medical School. The classes, involving simulated trial testimony on competency to stand trial, criminal responsibility, and post-traumatic stress disorder, were held at the medical school and at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.

Jonathan Bialosky, attorney-supervisor in the Immigration Clinic, spoke about the mental health issues of asylum seekers to the Forensic Psychiatry class of Dr. Eindra Khin Khin, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in the GW Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

The Immigration Clinic, taught by Professor Alberto Benítez and Attorney Jonathan Bialosky, hosted a naturalization ceremony for immigrants sworn in as American citizens.

In March 2015, Professors Suzanne Jackson, Jones, Meier, and Meyers, with Pallavi Rai Gullo and Mr. Bialosky, spoke about clinical education to a visiting delegation of Indonesian legal academics.

Friedman Fellow Claire Donohue Prono

In April 2015, Friedman Fellow Claire Donohue Prono conducted a training for the D.C. Volunteer Lawyers Project on negotiation skills in domestic violence cases.

In June 2015, Clinics’ Receptionist Warren Newton received GW Law’s Staff Recognition Award. n Warren Newton with Grace Fiddler, JD ’15

Professor Suzanne Jackson (center) with Indonesian visitors.



Insight: Clinic Profiles Criminal Appeals and Post-Conviction Services Clinic

Federal, Criminal, and Appellate Clinic students with Professor Anne Olesen (center) and Friedman Fellow Joe Thorp (far right)


tudents in the Criminal Appeals and Post-Conviction Services (CAPS) Clinic (formerly known as the Federal, Criminal, and Appellate Clinic) represent clients in criminal appeals before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. During the 2014-15 academic year, CAPS Clinic students litigated 11 cases, and an alumnus of the clinic returned to argue a clinic case before the Maryland Court of Appeals. In the CAPS Clinic’s first victory of the year, Meg Beasley, JD ’15, and Josh Violante, JD ’15, persuaded the court to vacate their clients’ illegal sentences on the grounds that the sentences were imposed in violation of protections against double jeopardy. Several other cases also raised constitutional issues. For example, Sarah Cockrum, JD ’15, and Lillian Bond, JD ’15, argued that their client’s due process rights were violated when he was forced to go to trial while wearing a jail-issued uniform. When the Court of Special Appeals ruled that due process rights were not violated because the uniform was not “identifiable prison clothing,” the students petitioned for

certiorari, asking the Maryland Court of Appeals to find that facing trial in a jail-issued uniform creates an unconstitutionally high risk that jurors will be influenced by awareness of the prison garb. In another case, Bond and Kendall Scott, JD ’15, argued that their client’s right to a public trial was violated when the public was excluded from the courtroom during jury selection. Supreme Court precedent establishes that the right to a public trial extends to voir dire proceedings. Violante and James Bowden, JD ’15, challenged a gun possession conviction where the police had frisked the defendant during a consensual search of the car he was riding in. The students argued that the gun should not have been admitted into evidence because the police had no reason to suspect the defendant of a violent crime and articulated no basis to believe he was armed and dangerous. Other clinic cases raised issues such as ineffective assistance of counsel (Bowden and Ann Porter, JD ’15), insufficiency


of evidence (Abigail Crick, JD ’15, and Ramon Gonzales, JD ’15), improper admission of evidence of other crimes (Gonzales and Beasley), and the erroneous admission of a protective order containing highly prejudicial information not relevant to the case (Nathan Green, JD ’15, and Cockrum). Matthew Joseph, JD ’14, a law firm associate at Fried, Frank, volunteered as co-counsel in Sublet v. State, the case he had litigated while a clinic student, when the Maryland Court of Appeals granted certiorari on issues concerning the admissibility of social media evidence. Soon after being sworn into the Maryland bar, Joseph argued to the Court that the case raised important issues of first impression, specifically whether Facebook posts that would have impeached the State’s key witness should have been admitted into evidence. The witness had admitted posting most of the material in question—but for the two most damaging posts that were part of the same conversation and made under the same Facebook profile—leading Joseph to argue that the posted material should have been admitted into evidence, thereby enabling the jury to weigh the credibility of the witness’s denials of the posts that contradicted her testimony. Although ultimately holding that exclusion of the evidence was not an abuse of the trial judge’s discretion, the Court did agree that social media evidence is authenticated where any reasonable juror could find the evidence to be what it purports to be. This brought Maryland’s authentication standard in line with the standard in other jurisdictions and in the federal courts. n


Domestic Violence Project


tudents in the Domestic Violence Project (DVP), directed by Professor Joan Meier, worked in a variety of domestic violence legal organizations in the D.C. area. Students helped represent clients, prosecute domestic violence cases, and research and write briefs to appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. In their classes, small-group discussions, self-reflection, and guided mentoring, students integrated these experiences with an examination of domestic violence lawyering, domestic violence law and policy, and their own professional development. In the fall semester, students worked on a range of legal matters, including teen dating violence, immigration relief for abused women, and child custody litigation in families that have experienced violence. Supervised by Professor Meier, Chideral Anyanwu, JD ’16, and Sylvia Tsakos, JD ’15, participated in appellate advocacy with the Domestic Violence Legal Empowerment and Appeals Project (DV LEAP), a nonprofit founded by Professor Meier. Each student worked on amicus briefs in two cases before the Supreme Court on issues such as First Amendment challenges to long-term domestic violence protective orders, social science research correlating threats to violent action, and challenging issues in statutory construction and constitutional interpretation. Both students were thrilled to see their research and writing appear in the briefs submitted to the

Michael Komo, JD ’15 (center), poses with other attendees at a DV LEAP event.

Supreme Court, appreciated the opportunity to attend oral arguments in the cases, and were inspired by this experience toward their own professional goals. Lisa Mays, JD ’15, and Ruth Perrin, JD ’16, worked for DV LEAP under Professor Meier’s supervision, researching statutory provisions related to child custody and family violence in preparation for a White House Summit on Violence Against Women. Mays and Perrin also helped research and develop arguments for a brief to the D.C. Court of Appeals in which DV LEAP and the appellant persuaded the court to uphold application of an eviction order under the domestic violence statute in a case involving nonfamilial victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. In the spring semester, Rachel Leach, JD ’16, worked at the D.C. Coalition Against Violence on legislative advocacy involving the housing rights of domestic violence victims. Lauren Marcus, JD ’16,

and Sonia Shaikh, JD ’16, worked at Break the Cycle, a legal services organization focused on youth dating violence, where they assisted clients between the ages of 15 and 25 in child custody litigation and in obtaining civil protection orders. Shaikh commented that “having the opportunity to assist young women in resolving stressful situations has been not only rewarding but educational, teaching me how to become a better advocate.” Nicole Beck, JD ’15, aided domestic violence and sexual assault victims at the Network for Victim Recovery of D.C., participating in pro bono litigation, filing civil protection orders, and helping clients navigate the legal system. At the Tahrih Justice Center, Brian Dittmeier, JD ’15, assisted victims of gender-based violence in obtaining lawful permanent residency. Dittmeier observed, “It takes a lot of strength to leave your home country and everything you’ve ever known. I’m glad to be at a placement that recognizes the courage these women possess and empowers them to live fulfilling lives here in the United States.” n



Family Justice Litigation Clinic


he Family Justice Litigation Clinic (FJLC), directed by Professor Laurie Kohn and Friedman Fellow Claire Donohue Prono, enables secondand third-year students to represent D.C. residents in a variety of family law matters. Each semester, clinic students help their clients obtain civil protection orders in domestic violence cases. In addition, they represent clients in other domestic relations cases, especially those involving custody and child support. For example, Evelina René, JD ’15, and Gloria Kuoh, JD ’15, handled a case involving third-party custody and issues of paternity, representing a paternal grandmother seeking joint legal and physical custody of her grandchild, for whom she had provided long-standing care and stability. René and Kuoh also brought another custody case to completion and obtained a civil protection order for a third client.

Nora Meador, JD ’15, and Deborah Norris Rodin, JD ’15, represented a mother who sought to modify a custody order for her child. Although the child’s father had originally received full custody, the child had always spent disproportionate time with their client. After Meador and Rodin conducted a full evidentiary hearing, including opening statements, witness examinations, and closing arguments, a judge granted the client the shared legal and physical custody that she sought. Chautney McMillian, JD ’15, and Jessica Sturgill, JD ’15, engaged in negotiations with multiple parties in a complex third-party custody case. Their preparations involved conducting a mock negotiation and receiving beneficial feedback from their clinic class. Phylicia Hill, JD ’15, and Samantha Brennan, JD ’15, helped their client to collect years of missed child support payments, seeking a finding of contempt against the defendant for violating the court’s child support order. On the client’s behalf, they conducted a multiday trial on child support modification, arguing that while a modification was

Professor Laurie Kohn and Dean Blake D. Morant present Chautney McMillian, JD ’15, the 2015 Community Legal Clinics Volunteer Service Award.


warranted, the client was still entitled to receive payments. Through negotiations, Anuj Gupta, JD ’16, and Sandra Zegarra, JD ’16, helped a former client of the FJLC to retain the child support she was receiving, persuading the defendant-father, who had moved to terminate child support, that he was obligated under D.C. law to pay support for three more years. Vanessa Dube, JD ’15, and Emily Plomgren, JD ’15, negotiated several times with an opposing party in a child support matter. Shawna Stevens, JD ’15, and Esther You, JD ’15, discovered the need for immediate immersion in clinical casework, appearing before a judge just three weeks into the semester. Roberta Roberts, JD ’15, and Ali Walker, JD ’15, were touched to see how empowering it was to their client when, with their help, she obtained a civil protection order and showed it to her daughter to help her learn from the experience. Navneet Jaswal, JD ’15, and Jeevan Rampersad, JD ’15, learned the importance of handling even small tasks carefully. When they discovered that the opposing party in their case had no permanent home, Rampersad observed that “we had to get really creative about how we were going to serve her.” He indicated that, among the many lessons of the clinic, “I learned that to do this kind of work, you have to think through every possible option and outcome in order to best serve your client.” Zegarra and Erika Clark, JD ’15, researched and presented a report to the D.C. Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board. After the students obtained records and information about a local domestic violence homicide from organizations such as the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Medical Examiner’s Office, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, they prepared the report to aid the board with its goal of determining how systems might be improved to prevent such tragedies in the future. n


Immigration Clinic


tudents in the Immigration Clinic, under the supervision of Professor Alberto Benítez and attorney Jonathan Bialosky, help clients to obtain asylum and to secure legal status in the United States. In addition, they help immigrant clients obtain work authorization, adjust status to become legal permanent residents, and naturalize to become U.S. citizens. Each week the Immigration Clinic opens for intake, when individuals in need of immigration assistance call to speak with student-attorneys in hopes of gaining representation. If these claims appear viable to pursue, student-attorneys schedule in-person intake interviews to further investigate the caller’s case. Student-attorney Paulina Vera, JD ’15, represented a Honduran woman who had suffered severe repeated abuse at the hands of her domestic partner, assisting her in obtaining asylum. Subsequently, she assisted the client in filing a petition to bring her daughter to the United States in an effort to be reunited with her mother. Daniel Curiel, JD ’15, obtained permanent residency for a client who fled violence in her home country. Curiel and Mengci Shao, JD ’15, obtained work authorization for a client, and Shao helped a client pass the civics portion of the naturalization exam. With the help of Warren Newton, the clinics’ receptionist, Grace Fiddler, JD ’15, worked patiently for eight weeks

The Immigration Clinic in the spring 2015 semester

attempting to schedule a difficult intake interview requiring the assistance of four sign language interpreters to communicate with a deaf man seeking asylum from Yemen. Fiddler also helped to prepare a pre-trial filing for a client applying for cancellation of removal from the United States. Because the client has lived his entire adult life in the United States and is the father of three U.S. citizens, his removal from the country would be a tremendous hardship for him and his family.

Bela Ram, JD ’15, counseled clients whose applications for cancellation of removal were pending and attempted to reopen a closed case due to the client’s changed circumstances. Joan Hill, JD ’16, successfully moved to reopen a case in the Board of Immigration Appeals for a former clinic client. Her motion to reopen was based on the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, which may allow the recognition of same-sex couples for immigration purposes. n

A gathering of the fall 2014 Immigration Clinic. JACOB BURNS COMMUNITY LEGAL CLINICS 1 3


International Human Rights Clinic


he International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC), directed by Professor Arturo Carrillo, had three main projects in 2014-15: the AntiTrafficking Project, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Human Rights Initiative, and the International Law Commission Project. The Anti-Trafficking Project continued to serve as co-counsel for a federal lawsuit under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and related statutes. With Supervising Attorney Susan French, IHRC students successfully mediated a settlement agreement on behalf of their clients,

a group of workers from Guatemala and Mexico. James Beatty, JD ’15, Stephanie Swieter, JD ’16, and Nathan Kasai, JD ’16, drafted a motion for default judgment and a damages memorandum against the remaining defendant in the case. To prepare affidavits supporting the workers’ claims for emotional damages, the students had the powerful educational experience of conducting victim impact interviews with the workers. The ICT Human Rights Initiative furthered its research-based project to promote greater protections for human rights in the ICT sector. Working with the ABA’s Rule of Law Initiative, students on the project developed learning modules that distill the international law regime surrounding freedom of expression and privacy on the Internet. The resulting curriculum on Internet freedom is being implemented in partnership with

Professor Arturo Carrillo confers with a student.


attorneys and members of civil society in Southeast Asia. Jannat Majeed, JD ’15, Wendy Aluoch, JD ’16, and Darke Zheng, JD ’15, researched issues related to net neutrality. The students produced a careful analysis of the Federal Communications Commission’s 2015 Open Internet Order protecting net neutrality. They also delved into a controversy generated by the worldwide practice of “zero rating,” by which service providers pay telecommunications companies to provide their customers with free access to data services. Students in the International Law Commission Project worked with Professor Sean Murphy again this semester to codify progressively developing international law. The project assisted Professor Murphy, the U.S. delegate to the International Law Commission, with his research regarding a proposed draft convention on crimes against humanity. Students Nora Mbagathi, JD ’16, and Sabin Chung, JD ’16, researched many issues, including extradition, mutual legal assistance, fair treatment, and pre-trial arrest and detention conditions. n


Law Students in Court


uring the 2014-15 academic year, students enrolled in the Criminal and Civil Divisions of D.C. Law Students in Court (LSIC) represented some of the District’s most underrepresented citizens. Criminal Division students provided legal services to indigent adult clients charged with misdemeanor offenses in D.C. Superior Court. Some of the student-attorneys also had the opportunity to represent juveniles charged in delinquency matters as well. The students in the Criminal Division were very successful this year, securing dismissals or acquittals in many of their cases set for trial in D.C. Superior Court. Anahi Cortada, JD ’15, obtained a not guilty verdict for her client after a two-day bench trial and successfully argued a motion to suppress tangible evidence. Janet Fennell, JD ’15, obtained an acquittal for her client, persuading the judge after the government presented its case that no reasonable juror could have found her client guilty. The acquittal was made possible by the diligence of her investigation that uncovered significant probative information. After preparing their cases for trial, Octavio Mella, JD ’15, Brian Kaewert, JD ’15, Mike Perez, JD ’15, and Johanathan Brooks, JD ’15, secured dismissals for their clients on the day of trial when the government announced it was not ready to proceed. Likewise, Gwendelynn Bills, JD ’15, secured a dismissal of her client’s case after successfully arguing against the government’s request for a continuance just days before trial. Laura Geigel, JD ’15, and Nicholas Kelly, JD ’15, negotiated with prosecutors and obtained favorable diversion offers that have led, or will lead, to dismissals after their clients successfully complete the conditions of diversion. Raymond Jackson, JD ’15, obtained a positive outcome for his juvenile client by negotiating with the Office of the Attorney General for a juvenile diversion program.

Above: Fall 2014 LSIC students and faculty Right: LSIC instructor Daniel Clark (seated, right) with Maxwell Tipping, JD ‘15 (standing, right) and other LSIC students

Christina Ferma, JD ’15, managed a complicated appellate case, while simultaneously representing clients involved in the Mental Health Community Court. Students participating in the Civil Division in 2014-15 represented D.C. clients in housing and consumer matters, including residents facing eviction and substandard living conditions. Third-year students David Blum, Jaimie Clark, David Seidel, Max Tipping, Dallas Harris, Sariana Garcia, Alex Moyer, Chris Carlson, Josh Waimberg, and Dao Sun achieved favorable outcomes in numerous matters. Through a jury trial, Seidel secured a $22,000 reduction in rent for a tenant forced to endure years of hardship, living without heat or a properly functioning kitchen. Tipping and Harris also won a jury trial, proving their client had been wrongfully evicted. Clark represented a public housing resident facing eviction after the death of her tenant mother, negotiating a settlement that included a

provision allowing the client to receive the public housing benefit and continue as a tenant. Carlson, Garcia, Waimberg, Sun, and Moyer provided services to litigants facing eviction and settled several cases by working out agreements to preserve affordable homes. Blum, selected as a D.C. LSIC postgraduate fellow for 2015-16, settled several matters on a jury trial track and assisted numerous tenants in their eviction cases. n



Neighborhood Law and Policy Clinic


n 2014-15, the Neighborhood Law and Policy (NLP) Clinic, taught by Professor Jessica Steinberg and Friedman Fellow Mira Edmonds, provided various forms of legal assistance to people who are incarcerated or reintegrating into the community after serving sentences for criminal convictions. The clinic’s cases involved parole, clemency petitions, sentence reductions, and expungements. During the course of the semester, each student led a one-hour session focused on an important decision that had arisen in a case he or she was handling, enabling all NLP Clinic students to participate in and learn from each other’s cases. Courtney Francik, JD ’15, and Bartholomew Sheard, JD ’15, student-attorneys in the NLP Clinic, helped a client obtain clemency from President Obama. Guided by criteria for clemency recently released by the U.S. Department of Justice, the students argued not only that the client had made great rehabilitative strides but also that he had already served many more years for his nonviolent crime than he would have received if he had been sentenced under statutes in effect today. Of the thousands of clemency petitions that the Obama administration has received, the clinic’s petition was one of a small number granted in 2015. Ajshay Barber, JD ’15, Claire Buetow, JD ’15, Simone DeJarnett, JD ’15, and Mark MacCorkle, JD ’15, handled cases of early termination of parole for clients who had substantially transformed their

Professor Jessica Steinberg, Bart Sheard, JD ’15, Courtney Francik, JD ’15, and Friedman Fellow Mira Edmonds

lives after decades-old convictions. For example, after being paroled five years ago from a 1988 conviction, Barber and MacCorkle’s client sought early termination of parole after obtaining a commercial driving license, purchasing a home, and publishing a book. In addition, 2014-15 NLP Clinic students handled a variety of expungement matters, such as the record-sealing motion submitted by Buetow and DeJarnett for a client, arrested for a nonviolent crime, who could not get an apartment or a loan to start her business. Francik and Sheard, along with Kevin Eckert, JD ’15, and Oscar Lopez, JD ’15, represented D.C. clients held in federal prisons in Maryland and Pennsylvania at parole eligibility hearings before the U.S. Parole Commission (USPC). For each case, students met their clients; gathered information about their backgrounds,


offenses, and educational/vocational achievements while in prison; collected letters of support from third parties; helped their clients secure post-release employment; developed a release plan; submitted prehearing briefs; and advocated for their clients by presenting testimony and arguments at the hearing. Eckert and Lopez obtained parole for their client, convicted of a crime 23 years ago, who had completed his GED, more than 1,600 hours of educational courses— some at the college level—found employment, and is now a grandfather of four. In the spring semester, Chelsea Kirkpatrick, JD ’16, and Jane van Benten, JD ’15, worked on a clemency petition for one client and, after a hearing before the USPC, obtained parole for another. Robert Holup, JD ’16, and Uma Richardson, JD ’16, obtained parole for a client when the USPC adopted the legal and factual arguments advanced in their prehearing brief and closing argument. Holup and Richardson also sought a sentence reduction for a client who had an exceptional record of program participation. n


Public Justice Advocacy Clinic


n the fall semester, students in the Public Justice Advocacy Clinic (PJAC), supervised by Professor Jeffrey Gutman and Adjunct Professor Paula Scott, represented a variety of low-income workers, such as security guards, house cleaners, and hospital workers, in wage and hour cases—lawsuits to obtain compensation owed them for work performed—or in appeals from denials of unemployment compensation. Students cultivated their lawyering abilities as they drafted appellate briefs or prepared for hearings before administrative law judges. PJAC student-attorneys Eugene Narovlansky, JD ’15, and Afroz Baig, JD ’15, worked on a complex federal case, with multiple defendants and crossclaims, involving discrimination by a homeless shelter on the basis of disability. The students conducted discovery in the case, working with other lawyers, negotiating with opposing counsel, and appearing in federal court for hearings. Megan Martino, JD ’15, and Han Lee,

JD ’15, wrote and filed an appellate brief in a case before the D.C. Court of Appeals, arguing on behalf of their client that the record did not support a finding that she had intended to steal from her employer, which undermined the employer’s claim of misconduct. PJAC students represented a number of clients in hearings before the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, appealing denials of unemployment compensation benefits. Chelsea Leyh, JD ’15, and Dae Ho Lee, JD ’15, represented a hospital worker denied benefits due to allegations of improper use of private medical information. After thoroughly investigating the facts of the case, the students argued at the hearing before an administrative law judge that their client’s actions did not constitute misconduct. Similarly, Narovlansky and Martino represented a security guard in an unemployment compensation case, appealing a decision on the grounds that their client’s actions in submitting time sheets with alleged inaccuracies could not have reasonably constituted gross misconduct. Baig and Lee appealed the denial of unemployment compensation to an employee of a nonprofit organization,

arguing before an Administrative Law Judge that their client had not voluntarily resigned but had been constructively terminated despite the absence of misconduct. Reconstructing the time records of an employee of a homecleaning business to calculate actual hours Professor Jeffrey Gutman worked and wages owed, Matthew Gardner, JD ’15, and Trisha Pande, JD ’15, represented the employee in the discovery phase of a wage-and-hour case. Leyh worked to collect a default judgment won by previous PJAC students in a wage-andhour case, counseling her client, with the help of an interpreter, on navigating decisions involved in negotiating a settlement with the defendant. Reflecting on the case, Leyh noted that although “trying to collect on a judgment that our client rightfully won is frustrating…it has been rewarding knowing that the client will [now] recover a decent sum of money.” n

In Memoriam


s the 2014-15 school year commenced, the Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics lost a friend. David Webster, LLB ’64, who established the Eric Sirulnik Fund to support Professor Sirulnik’s work in developing clinical legal education at GW, passed away at his home in New London, New Hampshire, in August 2014 at the age of 78. After graduating from Bowdoin College and serving in the Army, Mr. Webster came to GW Law, graduating in 1964. After graduation, he moved to New England, later earning an MBA from Babson College and achieving professional success in the insurance industry. Throughout his life, Mr. Webster was an active sportsman—he enjoyed biking, skiing, sailing, tennis, and golf—and an active philanthropist, serving on boards and in other volunteer capacities for numerous nonprofit organizations. Although Mr. Webster graduated from GW Law before it adopted clinical education, his contact with Professor Sirulnik led him to become a strong supporter of GW’s clinical program. In 2003, he established an endowed fund in Sirulnik’s name and asked that the fund remain open to receive donations from GW alumni and other friends of the clinics. If you wish to make a contribution to the Eric Sirulnik Community Legal Clinic Fund in memory of David Webster, please contact Rich Collins, Law School Office of Alumni and Development, at 202.994.6117 or rcollins@law.gwu.edu. We send our heartfelt condolences to the Webster family. Mr. Webster’s was a life well lived, and his generosity has left a lasting imprint. Through the quality of our day-to-day work at the Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics, we try to honor his steadfast support. We want our clinical program to be one that would make him proud. n



Small Business and Community Economic Development Clinic


n 2014-15, student-attorneys in the Small Business and Community Economic Development (SBCED) Clinic, supervised by Professor Susan Jones and Friedman Fellow Alice Hamilton-Evert, assisted clients who play an important role in the economic development of the community with a broad range of transactional legal issues. Through their work, clinic students were exposed to an evolving legal market in a dynamic entrepreneurial culture. In the fall semester, students in the SBCED Clinic represented a national membership organization engaged in juvenile justice reform. Students prepared articles of incorporation, bylaws, a conflict of interest policy, a whistleblower policy, an application for federal tax exemption, and legal memoranda on issues ranging from lobbying to membership. In the spring semester, the class worked with a nonprofit organization and a for-profit business founded by GW alumni. The for-profit client, Open Data Discourse, founded by Carey Ann Nadeau, ’08, collaborates, consults,

and offers training for government and nonprofit organizations on the productive uses and public benefit of open data. Alessandra Andersen, JD ’15, Mike Michel, JD ’15, Chris Lee, JD ’15, and James Mulligan, JD ’15, helped an international micro-lending technology platform assess its options for doing business in the United States, collaborating with international counsel to ensure compliance with both domestic and foreign regulatory regimes. Brandon Boxbaum, JD ’15, Shanellah Verna, JD ’15, Mike Gianquinto, JD ’15, and Reshma Patel, JD ’15, counseled a calligraphy artist and a free-school educational organization on choices of legal entity, employer best practices, and insurance liability. Students also provided legal assistance to several other clients, including a dance company, a student travel business, a local restauranteur, and a youth sports and education organization working in underserved schools. SBCED Clinic students researched and wrote legal memoranda for their clients and white papers for the benefit of the community. In 2014-15, for example, Alexandria Harris, JD ’15, Michael London, JD ’15, and Paris Waterman, JD ’15, respectively drafted memoranda for clients on whether for copyright purposes a series of paintings constituted works within a collection, how a trade association seeking a federal tax exemption could meet dissolution requirements, and whether a nonprofit

SBCED Clinic students and faculty visit 1776.


could accept and subsequently transfer funds to an international nonprofit without losing its tax-exempt status. Dylan Moore, JD ’15, Andersen, and Waterman respectively contributed to white papers on arts incubators, workforce development, and the employment challenges facing formerly incarcerated citizens returning to the community. Adjunct Professor Kevin Peska, JD ’91, assisted Professor Jones and HamiltonEvert in supervising clinic students certified to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Students performed trademark analyses for both nonprofit and for-profit clients, examining the viability of the mark and counseling each client on the appropriateness of trademark prosecution. SBCED Clinic students also gave a presentation on issues faced by start-ups to Professor George Solomon’s Small Business Management class at the GW Business School. To expand their understanding of entrepreneurs’ legal needs, SBCED students visited shared work spaces and entrepreneurial incubators, We-Work and 1776, and the office of a former client, Life Asset, a new D.C. microloan fund. During the Life Asset visit, the organization’s founder discussed the group’s vision and the role of the clinic in providing legal representation that transformed his idea into a successful reality. Since it opened, Life Asset has witnessed tremendous growth, has made small business loans to 100 micro-entrepreneurs, and hopes to reach many more. The site visit ignited students’ reflections on issues of job creation and best practices for addressing the legal needs of start-ups that positively affect the local economy. Throughout the year, SBCED Clinic students attended small business and community economic development events in the District to develop understanding of the larger context within which small businesses and nonprofit organizations operate. They examined the scope of the SBCED Clinic’s mission to foster social entrepreneurship and community economic development, the types of businesses in need of pro bono legal help, the role of the private transactional bar, and the needs of start-up companies. n


Vaccine Injury Clinic


n the Vaccine Injury Clinic, taught by Professor Peter Meyers and Adjunct Professors Cliff Shoemaker and Renee Gentry, student-attorneys worked to obtain federal compensation available to people who can demonstrate that they experienced an adverse physical reaction to vaccines. The educational experience that the students receive is truly unique, as the Vaccine Injury Clinic remains the only clinic of its kind in the country. After founding the Vaccine Injury Clinic in 1994 and teaching in it for the next two decades, Professor Meyers retired at the end of the 2014-15 academic year (see story, p. 2). In 2015-16, thanks to Adjunct Professors Shoemaker and Gentry, the clinic will continue. In 2014-15, Victoria Hubickey, JD ’15, Nicole DeAbrantes, JD ’16, and Krissy DiBenedetto, JD ’16, obtained compensation for two clients, one a breast cancer survivor who had been injured by influenza vaccines. The students also represented a doctor who, after receiving several vaccinations in preparation for deployment in Iraq as a military surgeon, suffered post-vaccinal encephalitis and a cognitive disorder with an abnormal MRI of the brain. The students’

Professor Peter Meyers

preparation for a settlement in the case involved working with an economist and a life-care planner to estimate an appropriate compensation award. Una Fan, JD ’15, and Steve Glauser, JD ’15, reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice for a client who began suffering from GuillainBarré syndrome and chronic pain after receiving a vaccine. Fan and Glauser prepared another case for a hearing scheduled in the fall semester of 2015, working with a medical expert to submit a report on the client’s adverse medical reaction to the vaccine. While preparing for the hearing, the students also engaged in settlement negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Ritter Haaga, JD ’16, and Michelle Irwin, JD ’15, conducted an appeal for a young client whose vaccine injury was diagnosed after the three-year statute of limitations for filing a claim had expired. On behalf of the client, the students argued that the statute of limitations should be tolled for equitable reasons or that it should begin to run only once the injury is discovered. Haaga and Irwin also negotiated final settlements for two elderly clients who contracted GuillainBarré syndrome after influenza vaccines, while evaluating the merits of potential new cases through client interviews, legal and medical research, and consultation on complex vaccine injury issues with international medical experts. n

Health Rights Law Clinic Dylan Young, JD ’16 (right), represented a woman whose insurance company denied coverage for an expensive drug her doctor had prescribed for a serious illness. Facing attorneys for the District as well as for a private health insurance company, Dylan successfully defended a motion to dismiss the case at its first hearing, then sorted through a litany of lab tests that would be required to reach a settlement. Dylan’s client finally received her medication and is now on her way to a cure for her illness.



Australian Law School from page 1

How did you develop the course?

The Introduction to U.S. Law and Legal Systems class was new to me. I had a near-infinite number of topics I could choose from and cases I could select. As a result, I spent a fair amount of time in class preparation. For several weeks before my first class, I devoted hours to selecting materials, developing lectures, and preparing PowerPoint slides. Did you take a comparative approach to the subject matter?

I assigned my students short comparative papers on the topics we covered, so much of the comparative information I learned came from them. Were there topics that your students found particularly interesting? Did anything trigger an especially lively discussion?

The course I developed focused largely on U.S. constitutional law. In part because each of my classes was four hours long, I tried to integrate interesting and topical issues, such as freedom of religion, sentencing of juveniles, and free speech. The students were particularly interested in same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana. We had a good discussion on comparative freedom of speech norms and talked about an Australian law that essentially outlaws derogatory and insulting public speech against minorities, a law that would not withstand scrutiny in the United States.

A New Zealand vista Did you find major differences between U.S. and Australian law students?

The principal difference is that students there study law at the undergraduate level. My Australian students were somewhat younger than my students at GW. While virtually all of my GW students aspire to practice law, that’s not necessarily the case with my Australian students, who, of course, had an interest in law, but may use their degrees for other purposes. As I could see from my daughter Julia’s experience, students must decide on their career ambition while in high school and, when quite young, apply to particular schools for university. What were your colleagues like?

Everyone at Thomas More was very gracious. The law faculty in Sydney is quite small, but they were welcoming. A colleague in Sydney helped me supervise a few student papers. And I tried to return the favor. For example, I was a guest lecturer in a torts class, where I talked about civil remedies in wrongful conviction cases. Did you draw from any clinical teaching methods when you taught your Australian courses?

A new family friend

Yes. For example, in the torts class when I discussed compensation for wrongful convictions, I told the students little about the facts, and we played 20 questions. I invited them to ask me a question that a lawyer or judge would


ask and to explain the relevance of the question. Once they had the facts, I divided the class into groups where they were required to render a verdict and explain the reasons for it. Also, Stacy and I did an ethics class in which we asked the students to conduct a disciplinary hearing under a particular U.S. ethics rule based on facts presented. The students appeared to like this sort of active learning, though it’s apparently unusual there. What is the state of clinical education in Australia?

Stacy and I visited the legal clinic at the University of New South Wales. The physical plant is next to the law school and is staffed by supervising solicitors. Many of the students do what we would call off-site externships. Others participate in interviewing prospective clients in advice-and-referral-type settings. The clinic refers many of those cases and keeps others. The students rarely appear in court because of the absence of a student practice rule, but it appeared that the clinic students play an important role in research, drafting, and assisting clients. Compared to GW, how did your daily work life differ at ACU?

At GW, the focus of most days is on students and clients. There is a substantial amount of one-on-one contact. That typically leaves me the evenings and weekends to work on aspects of class preparation and work on my private


caseload. In Australia, there was considerably less student contact apart from class and meetings to discuss research papers. And, of course, I had no direct clinic client contact. Nonetheless, some of my time on evenings and weekends has been focused on edits to the Federal Practice Manual for Legal Aid Attorneys, a project I usually don’t have time for in the U.S. I’ve also written some new clinic materials, worked on the wrongful conviction cases, and started an article on compensation for the wrongfully convicted. Do Australian law schools seem to be facing challenges similar to those that U.S. schools have confronted in recent years?

I discussed this with a colleague at ACU. Bear in mind that law schools are fully integrated with the university. There are 37 Australian law schools for a population about one-twelfth the size of the United States. That’s a lot. Up until about 15 years ago, all university education was free. There is still significant government funding, but it has been reduced, and tuition charged to students does not appear to close the gap. That said, more universities have started law schools because they are relatively inexpensive, compared to science departments requiring costly labs. The tuition, although modest by U.S. standards, appears to compel many students to work while they’re in school. It seems that many students both work and study during the day, and, as a result, class attendance suffers. How would you describe Sydney?

Parts of Sydney are spectacularly beautiful. We lived in a very small apartment in a North Sydney suburb, but we could see the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House from our windows. The connection of the city to the natural environment, not only water but also bushlands, is breathtaking. Unlike D.C., it’s a vertical city with large skyscrapers, but, like D.C., it suffers from high real estate prices and gentrification. Of U.S. cities, I would compare it to San Francisco, although there are those who see a little of Boston in it.

Professor Gutman, daughter Julia, and wife Stacy at the top of a pylon of the Harbour Bridge

What were your days like?

Except for an occasional early conference call to the U.S., my alarm clock consisted of the cockatoos, magpies, and kookaburras that flew near our apartment. We didn’t have a car, but our bus stop was a sidewalk away from a small bay off the harbor. We would wait patiently for the bus while watching the boats and ferries go by. I would go into the office fairly early and try to return before it got dark so that I could get a hike in. What did you do when you weren’t working?

I tried to enjoy all that Sydney has to offer. I did a fair amount of hiking, watching for the massive golden orb-weaver spiders. We visited many of the neighborhoods of Sydney, sampled the French and Spanish film festivals, saw a rugby game, enjoyed lots of local events and festivals, and I dragged Julia to a concert. Did you and your family have an opportunity to travel outside the city?

We were fortunate enough to do a fair amount of traveling within the Sydney area, the Blue Mountains, and the Hunter Valley (where we saw a concert with Sting and Paul Simon in a vineyard). Not long after we arrived, we took a fantastic trip to Tasmania and went to Bruny Island, which is an island off an island (Tasmania) off an island (Australia). The natural beauty and wildlife of the Cradle

Mountains are amazing. We visited Canberra, the capital, which reminded me somewhat of Washington, except for the relaxed security. Julia and I basically walked into the High Court building, dropped our packs, and waltzed into the main courtroom where the chief clerk gave us a tour. We also went to South Australia, where Adelaide is, and traveled north into the Outback from there as well as south to the aptly named Kangaroo Island. Once our son joined us after his freshman year at Berkeley, we headed to New Zealand, the Great Barrier Reef, and Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock, that giant red rock in the middle of the country). How would you sum up your time in Australia?

Australia is a wonderful, generally progressive country with a fascinating history. The people, food, wine, and weather were terrific. The widely varied natural environment was often absolutely stunning. Living abroad gives one the chance to absorb local culture while reflecting on one’s own country. We face many of the same challenges—race relations, climate change, income inequality, to name a few—and it was interesting to see how another former British colony deals with them. We can learn a lot from Australia. The one thing I could skip is wearing a wig to court. n



Cynthia Ludvigsen from page 7

Did your clinical experience have an impact on your career choices?

Absolutely. I started law school intending to become a newspaper reporter. That was still my plan when I enrolled in the clinic. That first experience in court changed my mind. I was shocked to learn I could stand up and argue the facts, the law, and persuade a judge to award a judgment in favor of my client. My client was so grateful and happy, and I felt that I was able to do something to help someone who was stymied by the legal system. My clinic experience convinced me that I wanted to practice law and helped me begin to overcome my fear of speaking in public. What would you tell current students who are considering taking a clinic?

You will never regret participating in a clinic, and it will make you a better and more engaged student and eventual lawyer. You will learn how to put civil procedure, contracts, evidence, and other subjects you have studied into practice. You will also receive the pleasure and satisfaction of using your skills and knowledge to help others, which is the essence of lawyering. What are the most valuable skills today’s graduates can bring to the workplace?

Humility is one. People put great trust in the legal system, the courts, and lawyers to help them during the most difficult and stressful times of their lives. Lawyers need to always keep this in mind in their relationships with their clients, adverse parties, their colleagues, and the courts. Civility and basic politeness are also important. There is no excuse for namecalling, rudeness, or ad hominem attacks in the course of oral or written advocacy on behalf of one’s clients. I think writing skills are often overlooked because people think oral advocacy is the “glamour” part of practicing law. But I learn the facts, the law, and the legal arguments of the parties through their written pleadings and the research my staff and I do before I take the bench. Especially in the trial courts, we do not have a great deal of time to give to the hearings and expect to learn what we

need to learn from the written pleadings. I often begin my hearings by asking the parties if they have anything to say that is not in their written pleadings, and I do not expect to hear a rehash of those pleadings because I have already read them. So make certain your writing is clear, concise, and accurate as to the facts and the law. You visited the new clinics building recently. What did you think? How do today’s workspaces (for students to work, meet with clients, etc.) compare to those available when you were a student at GW?

The new building is unbelievable. When we met with clients, we just huddled in a corner of the single room occupied by the clinics and spoke in low voices or made arrangements to meet them off campus. To the extent that we had “classes” or “group instruction,” we met in that same room as well and sat in chairs around the room with no desks. The client meeting rooms, research carrels, and the classrooms with video outlets are great for students and clients. What is a typical day at the office like for you now?

I usually arrive at court around 7:30 a.m. I generally have 30 to 50 cases on my morning calendar. With any good luck, I had an opportunity to review them the evening before. If I did not finish that review, I finish it in the morning. Then I check for late filed pleadings that had not been available the day before, and I determine if there is time to consider those or not. At 8:30 a.m., I call my probate cases, which are estates and trusts. This calendar is to determine if estates are ready to open or close and if disputed matters are ready for trial, and to check the status of ongoing cases. At 9:30 a.m., I call the conservatorship cases for elderly or disabled individuals who may need someone to care for them and make healthcare or other decisions. I determine if a petition is complete and can proceed, if there are objections that require the case to be set for trial. I always take time to talk to the proposed conservatee to see if they have


questions or concerns. Sometimes they do not understand but want to say something to the judge, and I always listen. For example, one time I had a developmentally disabled young man whose parents were petitioning to be his conservators. When I asked him if he wanted to tell me anything, he said he would from the witness stand. (His parents told me he enjoyed courtroom television dramas.) I invited him to the witness stand, had my clerk administer an oath, and asked him questions about the care he received from his parents, his school, and leisure activities. At 11 a.m., I call guardianship cases for children whose parents are alleged to be unable to care for them and for which no juvenile dependency court case has been initiated. At 1:30 p.m., I conduct trials or settlement conferences, and we usually go until 4:30 or 5 p.m. I usually then spend an hour or so reviewing files for the next day, preparing for the next day’s trial, writing decisions, signing orders, and completing my committee and state task force work. Most often I spend my lunch hours doing the same things. If a trial concludes early or cannot go forward for some reason, I have my afternoons as well to work on these tasks. What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were in law school?

That practicing law and helping others by doing so could be so enjoyable, interesting, and intellectually challenging. Also, that I was capable of doing it. I think if I had understood that in law school, I would have enjoyed it more and made better plans for after law school. If you weren’t doing what you do, what would you be doing?

I would probably be an unemployed journalist! n


Meyer from page 2

in people. According to Jacob Burns Foundation Professor of Clinical Law and Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs Phyllis Goldfarb, “The fact is that Peter is just deeply curious and interested in human beings—what drives us, what moves us, what upsets us, and what pleases us.” In addition to teaching the Drugs and the Law class for the past 20 years, Professor Meyers has taught and directed the country’s only Vaccine Injury Clinic.

Professors Alberto Benítez and Peter Meyers

Through this clinic, GW Law students have won millions of dollars in medical expenses and care for people who have suffered vaccine-related injuries. When asked what message he would like to impart to his students, Professor Meyers remarks, “One of my major messages to law students is that really what we do as lawyers is tell stories. We shape the narrative and tell the story in the most appealing way. If you read a lot of appellate cases, what you may think lawyers do is research what the law is, get their facts, and massage their facts to meet the standards of the law. I am telling them that we are essentially storytellers who

have to keep client relations in our mind at all times.” Dean Goldfarb believes that among the truly important contributions Professor Meyers has imparted to his students are his core personality traits. “Beyond all the knowledge and skills that Peter has taught his students over the years, there’s a person that he has modeled for the students—someone who adapts as constructively as possible to new circumstances, someone who identifies how he can be most useful, someone who is always willing to learn new things, and someone who speaks his mind but always keeps his mind open to other perspectives.” After spending several decades affecting an institution, choosing a legacy to leave behind is not an easy matter. When asked what he would like his legacy to be at GW Law, Professor Meyers said, “I have such a long relationship with the school, as a student, a part-time teacher, a full-time clinical professor for the last 20 years, and the father of a GW Law alumnus. I liken it to a baseball team, where you have a few superheroes who are the marquee players and then you have the hometown boy who made good. So I guess I visualize myself as a person who came to GW as a student in 1968, then fell in love with the city and the law school.” Dean Goldfarb adds, “Much of what Peter contributes is unsung. If I’m rounding up volunteers to speak to visitors or students, Peter often steps up—not because it benefits him, but because it benefits the law school. He’ll stop by your office not to make a request, but just to check in and ask how you are. These are the intangibles that we’ll miss.” While Professor Meyers will retire as a Professor Emeritus, he won’t be sitting in a beach chair. Instead, he plans to devote his time and energy to a mix of old and new challenges. Professor Meyers will continue to teach the Drugs and the Law class because “it’s always challenging and always changing, and I’ll enjoy continuing to interact with students.” He recently took a sabbatical in which he immersed himself in writing a novel about a law student who falls in love with a criminal defendant she’s representing in D.C.

Professor Peter Meyers with Emeritus Professor Joan Strand

Professor Peter Myers with Dean Blake D. Morant

Superior Court. Professor Meyers admits that he’s “very tempted to jump back in and try to finish it.” We wish Professor Meyers a satisfying and engaging retirement and thank him for his many contributions to GW Law. n


Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics Law School 2000 H Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20052

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