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75th Annual GW Law Review Symposium

Government, military experts discuss national security and international law

Panelists from the “Practitioners’ Views from Guantanamo” panel, from left to right: Brig. Gen. Thomas Hemingway, Office of Military Commissions; Col. Dwight Sullivan, Office of Military Commissions; Neil Lewis, New York Times Guantanamo correspondent; and Professor Stephen Saltzburg

Abdul El-Tayef/WPPI

In October, The George Washington Law Review hosted a symposium in celebration of its 75th anniversary: “The New Face of Armed Conflict: Enemy Combatants after Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.” The event brought together key government and military attorneys as well as prominent academics in the fields of national security and international law.

The symposium addressed many of the legal issues America faces in the war on terror, focusing primarily on the Supreme Court’s June 2006 decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. In that case, the Supreme Court considered whether the military commissions convened by President Bush upon Guantanamo detainees violated either the Geneva Conventions or the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Holding that the military commissions were illegal because they contravened both the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Court declared the commissions unable to try Salim Hamdan or any other enemy combatants captured during the War on Terror.

In response to the Court’s decision in the case, Congress passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006; President Bush signed the act into law on Oct. 17.

John B. Bellinger III, legal adviser to the secretary of state, discusses diplomatic repercussions of the recent Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Abdul El-Tayef/WPPI

Five substantive panels and a keynote address by John B. Bellinger III, the legal adviser to the secretary of state, were the highlights of the event. Bellinger discussed both the recent passage of the Military Commissions Act and the Supreme Court’s decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld from the perspective of a diplomat wrestling with the international effects of the United States’ Guantanamo policy.

The panels included scholarly discussions on extraordinary rendition and ghost detainees, the prospect of trying enemy combatants in the civilian criminal courts, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, and the continued viability of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 in the war on terror. Each of the papers presented will be published in the summer 2007 issue of The George Washington Law Review.

The symposium also included a presentation from two lawyers intimately involved in litigating the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, Professor Neal K. Katyal of Georgetown University Law Center and Gregory J. Katsas from the Department of Justice.

Numerous GW Law students and faculty members planned and participated in the event, which was among the academic highlights of the fall semester.

—Jefferey Bailey

Gore, Alito to visit GW Law

Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Two heavyweights from the political and judicial arenas, former Vice President Al Gore and Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito, will visit GW Law this spring.

On Feb. 1, Alito will judge the finals of this academic year’s Van Vleck Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition. Along with Judge Diane Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit and Judge Jose Cabranes U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, Alito will decide which team will win the competition, which for more than 50 years has been the highlight of GW Law’s oral advocacy competitions. In the fall, more than 120 students participated in preliminary rounds, and four students will advance to the finals to argue before the distinguished panel of judges.

Van Vleck has a history of attracting famous judges. Last year’s competition was judged by Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts Jr.

“This competition underscores every strength that GW Law has to offer,” says David Johnson, assistant dean for student affairs. “We have a fantastic student body, one that can impress the greatest legal minds of our generation. And, we have a terrific faculty that has the knowledge and connections to put together an event like this year in and year out.”

On March 18, Gore will address the 17th Annual National Association of Environmental Law Societies. Increasingly, Gore has been recognized for his dedication to environmental causes. His speech will be one of the highlights of the four-day conference hosted by GW Law.

The theme of this year’s program is “The Future of Environmental Protection,” and it will encompass a variety of contemporary topics in environmental law, with specific focus on legal issues relating to climate change.

“Vice President Gore’s address will be a marvelous capstone to what should be a great event for the entire community,” says Dean Frederick M. Lawrence. “We are especially proud of our Environmental Law Association students who are already hard at work to make this an impressive event and who are to be congratulated for their efforts to obtain the bid to host this year’s NAELS conference here at GW Law.”

—Dan Williams

Professorial lecturer Wayne Cohen, sponsor of the Cohen & Cohen Mock Trial Competition

Claire Duggan


Cohen & Cohen Mock Trial Competition

The best and brightest of GW Law competed in the fourth annual Cohen & Cohen Mock Trial competition on Nov. 9. A record-setting number of teams entered the competition, which was judged by Ricardo Urbina from the United States District Court.

The competition is sponsored by Washington personal injury firm Cohen & Cohen, managed by associate professorial lecturer Wayne Cohen and his wife, Jill.

“This is a great opportunity for the students to compete and better their trial skills,” Cohen says. The firm’s $25,000 sponsorship will continue through the 2007 competition.

Law School Welcomes New Admissions Dean

Anne Richard has joined the GW Law administration as associate dean for admissions and financial aid. Before entering higher education administration, Richard was an associate and partner in the commercial litigation section of a large Virginia firm. She also worked as a trial attorney in the civil division of the Department of Justice.

“I had a wonderful time practicing law, but there came a time when I was ready for a change and for new challenges,” Richard says. Following her interest in higher education administration, Richard served as associate dean and director of admissions at George Mason University School of Law before joining GW Law.

In her new position, Richard says one of the Law School’s goals is to continue to recruit outstanding students. Part of her plan is to provide greater customer service and more individual attention to each prospective student, applicant, and admitted applicant.

Each year, the Law School receives about 10,000 applications from across the United States and abroad. “Our applicant pools and the students who ultimately choose to attend our law school are extremely diverse—not only in terms of race and ethnicity, but also in terms of age, academic and professional backgrounds, geography, et cetera,” Richard says.

She cites GW Law’s location in the heart of Washington, well-known faculty, and the rigorous curriculum as attractions for prospective students. “There is a great deal of faculty-student interaction,” Richard says. “Our students also enjoy internship, networking, and employment opportunities that are unsurpassed.”

To keep GW Law on the cutting edge of legal education, Richard says the school will place a continued focus on clinical and international programs.

—Stephanie Robichaux

Constitution Day

David Fontana

Jessica McConnell

Associate professor David Fontana delivered a globally focused Constitution Day lecture in the Burns Moot Court Room on Sept. 18, addressing the historical importance of international cooperation in the field of constitutional law. “Our Global Constitution” explored the interconnectivity between the written laws of nations in the past and present.

Dean Frederick M. Lawrence says that Fontana, a new faculty member, “has already begun to establish himself as an important voice in the scholarship of comparative constitutional law.

“Questions of the role of international law and foreign law in American jurisprudence have never been more significant or timely,” Lawrence says.

In his presentation, Fontana noted that, while one might not see explicit references to other nations in the Constitution, there is plenty of evidence of their influence. He pointed out that many of the Supreme Court’s most influential decisions on topics including abortion, military service, and diversity have had international influence. Discussing the law with other nations serves American interests, and it promotes international cooperation, he said.

“Constantly, our courts and political leaders have not hesitated to look at other countries for constitutional guidance, even when they didn’t have to,” Fontana said. “This has served us well.”

While Fontana’s attention to this topic stems from his interest in law and global policy, he suggested that students from all interest areas may benefit from critical thinking about this subject, with the end goal of becoming global citizens.

The Law of the Sea in the Twenty-First Century:

A Symposium in Remembrance of Louis B. Sohn

A voice of reason and source of wisdom” is how United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan remembers Louis B. Sohn, a prolific international law scholar who helped draft the U.N. charter and who fostered awareness and action in human rights.

Members of the GW Law community remember Sohn for his many contributions to the school as well as his dedication to modern international law, a discipline he helped define and establish. His attention to international law spanned all aspects of the discipline, including international organizations, international human rights, international environmental law, use of force, state responsibility, international law of the sea, and international dispute resolution.

This fall, the Law School paid tribute to Sohn through “The Law of the Sea in the Twenty-First Century: A Symposium in Remembrance of Louis B. Sohn.” Many GW Law students and faculty members met with alumni and guest speakers in fields related to Sohn’s work during the event, held on Oct. 24. Attendees included Lobingier Professor Emeritus of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence Thomas Buergenthal of the International Court of Justice.

(Left to right) Professor Dinah Shelton; Stanimir Alexandrov, LLM ’92, SJD ’94; and Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh

Sohn’s dedication to the law extended to legal education. He trained many students, including contemporary leaders and thinkers in international law. His teaching, while thorough and intense, was done with great care.

With degrees in law and science from John Casimir University in hand, Sohn arrived in the United States shortly before the Nazi invasion of his native Poland. After furthering his education at Harvard Law School with the assistance of its late dean James M. Landis, Sohn went on to help pave the way for the formation of the Charter of the United Nations, attending the San Francisco Conference in 1945. In addition to teaching at several acclaimed institutions including GW Law, as well as his extensive writing and research, Sohn was instrumental in shaping the U.S. draft of the treaty on general and complete disarmament, the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, and the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Sounding Off

Alumnus celebrates 30 years as voice of Colonials basketball

(Left to right) Mike Jarvis, Alexander Koul, Phil Hochberg, and Shawnta Rogers

Claire Duggan

Phil Hochberg, BL ’65, is well known to the Washington community as the voice of GW men’s basketball—a role he’s held since the 1970s. His voice is heard all over the area, announcing for the Senators, Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland and American University basketball, and—for nearly four decades—the Washington Redskins.

Hochberg also has been the official announcer at seven presidential inaugural parades. But out of all the big gigs, cheering on the Colonials is his favorite.

“There’s a personal identification with GW and a personal pride in terms of its success given that I am an active alumnus of the Law School,” Hochberg says.

The 2006-07 season marks Hochberg’s 30th year with the Colonials. He says it’s been a “wonderful experience” keeping fans on top of the action at the Charles E. Smith Athletic Center. He understands the announcer is unseen by most spectators, but notes that his is an important role in the Colonials experience.

Of the hundreds of GW games he’s covered, Hochberg pinpoints two as most memorable: The Colonials’ 78-75 victory over top-ranked Massachusetts in 1995 with President Clinton in attendance; and the 86-85 overtime win over UNC-Charlotte that was the highlight of last season. And he’ll never forget the game in 1986 when an inability to adjust to his first pair of bifocals caused his head to bob up and down, triggering a puzzled look on his face that prompted a referee to stop the action.

In the legal court, Hochberg has a solo practice and serves as special counsel to Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker in Rockville, Md., after serving Washington firms for 35 years. He represents the NFL, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, PGA Tour, and other sports interests in legislative and regulatory matters, and has been fortunate to “combine a vocation with an avocation,” as he puts it. Along with fellow GW Law alumnus and former Redskins quarterback Eddie Lebaron, Hochberg is honored in the Ring of Fame that encircles FedExField.

—Michael Richman

Professor Renee Lettow Lerner meets with French Minister

Associate Dean Scott Pagel, professor Renee Lettow Lerner, Alexis Francois Charles Bouroz, and Jennie Meade, rare books librarian of the Jacob Burns Law Library, tour the library in June.

Claire Duggan

In June, professor Renee Lettow Lerner met with Alexis Francois Charles Bouroz, deputy director for internships at the National School for Magistrates, Bordeaux, for a discussion on American law and issues of international comparative law. Bouroz’s visit included a tour of the Jacob Burns Law Library and the library’s French Collection hosted by Associate Dean Scott B. Pagel and Jacob Burns Law Library rare books librarian Jennie Meade.

The visit was part of the International Visitor Leadership Program, organized by the Phelps Stokes Fund on behalf of the Department of State. Bouroz’s time at GW Law was one of the stops on his D.C. tour that included similar meetings at the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice in an effort to gain a better understanding of the American legal system and judicial process, selection and training process of judges, legal practices regarding illegal immigration, human trafficking, juvenile justice, and the environment.

Student Conference Center Opens

GW Law enjoys improvements to its physical complex

SBA President Sam Jammal and Dean Frederick M. Lawrence cut the ribbon to the new Student Conference Center, located on the second floor of Lisner Hall.

Claire Duggan

The beautifully appointed Student Conference Center officially opened in September, giving GW Law students a new modern, multi-purpose space in which to study, collaborate, and socialize. Dean Frederick M. Lawrence and SBA President Sam Jammal cut the ribbon to the space, welcoming students, faculty, and staff members.

The SCC is located on the second floor of Lisner Hall, the latest building along the University Yard to join the Law School complex. Its cherry wood walls, glass interior doors, and adaptable furnishings are similar to design elements seen throughout the complex, further unifying the look and feel of the complex. The space is bright and welcoming, with views across the yard from multiple large windows.

“Our goal was to create an environment that further encourages a horizontal flow across our physical space so that community members not only plan to meet together, but regularly see each other on a more casual basis,” Lawrence says.

The new Student Conference Center offers students a beautiful new place in which to study, collaborate, and socialize. It is among several improvements to the Law School’s physical complex, including a new food and beverage vendor and updated furniture and computer hardware.

Claire Duggan

Senior Associate Dean Tom Morrison notes that “conference center” is just one of the uses for which the multi-purpose SCC will be used. Morrison says there are spaces that could serve as a classroom, a breakout room, and a location for event registration and refreshments. Another draw will be the opening of the Uptowner Cafe, a food and beverage vendor that will open on the first floor of Lisner later this year.

Additional physical improvements to the law complex greeted new and returning students this fall. Student study and breakout rooms on the first, second, and fourth floors of Stuart Hall (where the building adjoins Lisner) were also added. New lounge furniture was placed on the third and fourth floors of Stuart and fourth floor of Lisner. Computer labs on the second floor of Burns and Stuart were upgraded with new hardware and furniture.

Soon, a spacious study area with new furniture, study tables, and lighting will occupy the area of the former computer lab on the second floor of Stockton.

Whether studying or socializing, GW Law students now experience a higher level of comfort and convenience on campus than ever before.

SCRAP Team Shares Stories

Neil Thomas Proto, MA ’69, JD ’72

Claire Dugan

Alumni and professors reunited at GW Law in September to tell the story of how law students challenged the federal government and the nation’s railroads in the early ’70s—taking the corporate wrongdoing and environmental case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

United States of America v. Students Challenging Regulatory Agency Procedures is chronicled in To a High Court by Neil Thomas Proto, MA ’69, JD ’72. The book’s real-life cast of characters told current students about the hard work and humor of the time-consuming but rewarding project.

Joining Proto on the panel were George Biondi, JD ’73; John Larouche, JD ’73; and Peter Resslar, JD ’72; as well as professor Peter Meyers, who argued the case to the Supreme Court as a GW Law legal assistant. Kenneth Perlman, JD ’72, the fifth student member of SCRAP, was unable to attend the event.

“This project taught me a lot of things I still use in my everyday lawyering,” Biondi said. “I learned it’s always better if you function as a team and to never be fearful or intimidated. You must always sweat the details and know your case well as that’s the only way to be a good lawyer to your client.”

The group spoke of the impact and guidance of professors John Banzhaf and Arnold Reitze, whose unfair trade practices course and environmental law class sparked the creation of SCRAP and the lawsuit.

Professor Joshua Schwartz, Georgetown professor Richard Lazarus, and Barbara McDowell of D.C. Legal Aid also spoke at the event and provided insight into SCRAP and its legal implications.

“These students stunned the railroad industry,” Lazarus said. “And 30 years later, it’s still a watermark case.”

—Claire Duggan