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GW Law Hosts Grand Jury Roundtable

Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Michael Daly Hawkins delivers the luncheon keynote lecture to the roundtable participants and students.

Claire Duggan

In the spring, associate professor Roger A. Fairfax Jr. organized a roundtable event that brought to GW leading grand jury scholars, including the authors of influential treatises, books, and articles; prominent state and federal judges; and leading practitioners involved in high-profile grand jury investigations.

Participants discussed the grand jury’s past, present, and future role in the American criminal justice system. Fairfax, a former federal prosecutor and white-collar criminal defense attorney, has conducted substantial research on grand juries.

“The roundtable format gives the participants a wonderful opportunity to engage about scholarship and, more fundamentally, ideas,” Fairfax said at the event. “It is my hope that the Roundtable on the Grand Jury will serve as a catalyst for scholarship, innovative legal argumentation, and insightful judicial consideration related to the grand jury’s significance in the American constitutional order.”

The day-long conference featured three paper presentations: Duke University law professor Sara Sun Beale’s “Grand Jury Reform: What Problem(s) Are We Trying to Solve?”; Illinois University law professor Andrew Leipold’s “Do Federal Prosecutors Overcharge? Some Preliminary Data and Observations”; and Dayton University law professor Susan Brenner’s “The Grand Jury Speaks!”

Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Michael Daly Hawkins delivered the luncheon keynote address titled “Honoring the Voice of the Citizen: Breathing Life into the Grand Jury Requirement.”

Other participants included GW Law professor Paul Butler; Dayton University Law School professor Susan Brenner; Angela Jordan Davis, American University law professor; Hon. Paul S. Diamond, District Judge, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania; Hon. Thomas F. Hogan, Chief Judge, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; Roscoe C. Howard, partner at Troutman Sanders LLP; Niki Kuckes, associate professor, Roger Williams University Law School; Julie Rose O’Sullivan, professor, Georgetown University Law Center; GW Law professor Stephen Saltzburg; Earl J. Silbert, partner, DLA Piper LLP; Ric Simmons, associate professor, Ohio State University Moritz College of Law; and Daniel L. Zelenko, partner, Crowell & Moring LLP. Many students also attended the luncheon address.

To hear Fairfax speak more on this topic, visit NPR’s “Justice Talking” to listen to a May 2008 program in which he and trial lawyer Gerald Lefcourt discuss the function and failings of the grand jury system: progID=651.

A Clinic for Arkansas

Professor Elizabeth L. Young, JD ’04, with a client and his interpreter, helps moot two of her Immigration Clinic students prior to a hearing last fall.

Claire Duggan

This summer, alumna and current visiting associate professor Elizabeth L. Young, JD ’04, will return to her home state of Arkansas to start an immigration law clinic. The University of Arkansas School of Law will welcome Young to its faculty as an assistant professor of law who will establish and direct the school’s 11th legal clinic.

For the past year, Young has served as the interim director of the GW Immigration Law Clinic. While a student at GW Law, Young spent a year at the clinic and received the 2004 Richard C. Lewis Jr. Memorial Award for Clinical Excellence. She also was the executive guide editor of The George Washington International Law Review and attended the GW–Oxford Summer Program in International Human Rights Law. After graduation, Young worked for three years at the San Francisco Immigration Court as an attorney adviser through the Department of Justice Honors Program.

“Not only did I get a great legal education as a student here, but the Clinics and Professor Alberto Benítez have all been instrumental in developing my career as a professor.”

“Elizabeth is the poster child for clinical legal education,” Benítez says. “As interim director Elizabeth has come full circle in that she is now the mentor and inspiration to law students.”

Young explains that Arkansas has one of the top five growing Hispanic populations in the United States, and there is a significant need for legal help in the community. Plus, she adds, she’ll be heading home to have an opportunity to “give back to the community that raised me.”

GW’s Small Business Clinic Provides Big Opportunities

Professor Susan Jones and GW Law student Abraham Hanono meet with client Reid Saaris (center) to help him navigate the legal challenges associated with forming a nonprofit organization.

Doug Plummer

A high school educator focused on closing the country’s achievement gap is using GW Law School’s Small Business Clinic to help make the grade.

When psychology teacher Reid Saaris agreed to run an advanced academic program at a Beaufort, S.C., high school, he quickly realized that few students of racial or socio-economic diversity were enrolled. Unwilling to keep things status quo, Saaris set out to start a nonprofit educational consulting and advocacy group aimed at creating opportunities for all students. Saaris, who earned a teaching degree in college, had little knowledge about building a nonprofit organization, but he moved to D.C., created a business plan, and met with GW’s Small Business Clinic to gain valuable help.

For the past six months, Director Susan Jones and law students Rhonda Foxx and Abraham Hanono have been meeting with Saaris regularly to incorporate, create bylaws and corporate minutes, and draft the IRS federal tax exemption application for Saaris’ Washington-based nonprofit, Equal Opportunity Schools. The organization’s mission is to promote and implement a clear national civil rights standard for school leaders, modeled after Equal Opportunity Employer standards.

Hanono, a 3L who works with clients about 10 to 15 hours a week, says the advantages of the clinic are twofold.

“It’s a learning opportunity for us and the client,” Hanono says. “I didn’t know much about nonprofits, how to start a nonprofit, and what they need to do to keep their tax exemption, so I feel privileged that Reid puts his trust in the clinic and lets us work on the case. As we’re learning about it and discussing issues with Professor Jones, we’re also relaying the information to Reid, so it’s really benefiting everyone.”

GW Law School’s Small Business Clinic opened in 1977 as one of the first of its kind in the country. Students enroll in the program for academic credit and often get their first chance to fill the role of lawyer while doing pro bono work for struggling or start-up nonprofits, arts organizations, or small businesses. Jones, who has led the clinic for nearly 20 years, says it has evolved to fulfill societal needs.

“The reality is that we think of our work as part of a social and economic justice initiative—that is, we work in communities that traditionally haven’t had access, and we think of our work in a very holistic way by bringing in community partners,” Jones says. “Knowledge is power, and our goal is really to provide the skills to re-envision, re-imagine, and to really focus on our role as problem solvers.”

The clinic, Jones says, serves about 25 clients a semester, and each of the eight students involved usually works on three to five cases. Rhonda Foxx, 3L, says she was so invested in Saaris’ case that she spent extra time putting together a detailed, comprehensive notebook, highlighted and tabbed at critical information, to help Saaris manage the nonprofit. Working with an education advocate like Saaris, Jones says, is ideal. “To contribute in some way to his vision is a win-win,” she adds.

Saaris is now in the process of negotiating with several school districts around the Washington area to document the problem, while also working to reverse long-standing inequities. He says his vision is coming to fruition, thanks to the clinic’s help.

“I would have no understanding of how to do most of this, but they have the knowledge and capacity to shine a light on things that would otherwise be largely insurmountable, if not incredible stumbling blocks,” Saaris says. “It’s been invaluable, from my perspective.”

Jaime Ciavarra

An Environmental Law Web site for China

In an effort to strengthen the legal framework for environmental protection in China, the Environmental Protection Agency has launched the EPA-China Environmental Law Initiative Web site, which will provide a forum for sharing information and fostering an ongoing dialogue with China on environmental law. GW Law is a partner in this effort.

The EPA is undertaking this project with a broad range of experts in Chinese environmental law. In addition to GW Law, collaborators include the Environmental Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, the Woodrow Wilson Center China Environment Forum, and the University of Maryland Environmental Law Program.

China suffers severe environmental problems. Strengthening environmental laws and their implementation are seen as vital steps in improving the environment in China.

“We’ve learned in the United States you can’t have a strong environment without strong environmental laws,” EPA General Counsel Roger R. Martella says. “The Chinese government and people have expressed a commitment to a stronger environment, and we expect that this initiative will help China realize that goal, while helping Americans better understand China’s environmental laws.”

The Web site features information on new developments in Chinese environmental law, links to legal resources such as reports, articles, and the English text of many Chinese environmental laws, and an e-mail update service.

Reception Highlights Law Firm Diversity

The career development office and Lambda Law hosted a reception to highlight lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender diversity at law firms. More than 75 lawyers networked with 1Ls and LGBT students at the event, which was held on the top floor of GW’s 1957 E Street, N.W., building. The event’s main sponsors were law firms Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Arent Fox, and Spriggs and Hollingsworth.

On Capitol Hill: Civil Rights and Employment

1L Jamie Cohn, Professor Michael Selmi, event organizer Ericke S. Cage, LLM '08, and 1L Matt Alpert attended the April panel discussion on Capitol Hill.

Claire Duggan

In April, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation hosted “Civil Rights as a Bargained for Exchange: Mandatory Arbitration of Contracts of Employment” in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill.

GW Law professor Michael Selmi joined panelists professor E. Christi Cunningham of Howard University School of Law and Michael Foreman of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights to focus attention on issues raised by mandatory arbitration clauses in contracts of employment.

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wisc.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4) introduced the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2007 in an effort to have the 110th Congress take a firm stand on the fundamental civil rights of American workers. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY-8), chair, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties and Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5) co-sponsored the bill and spoke at the event.

Ericke S. Cage, LLM ’08, a Congressional Fellow for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, organized the panel discussion.

Greenpeace Leader Calls for More Nuclear Power

The GW Environmental Law Association hosted Patrick Moore on March 21 for a lecture on the importance of promoting alternative energy. Moore, a founding member of Greenpeace, was once an activist against any type of nuclear power because of the destructiveness of nuclear weapons. But in recent years, he has come out as a strong activist in favor of using nuclear power as an alternative to pollutants such as coal and oil. Together with co-chair Christine Todd Whitman, Moore is traveling the country to promote the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition and endorsing the environmentally clean, safe, affordable, and reliable supply of electricity that is nuclear energy.

U.K. Lord Chancellor Visits GW Law

United Kingdom Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Jack Straw visited the Law School in February.

United Kingdom Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Jack Straw discussed his long-term goals to draft a written constitution for Britain with a new bill of rights during a speech at GW Law School in February.

Straw, who was appointed by U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown in June 2007, spoke to an audience of GW Law students and professors as part of a three-day visit to the United States.

During the speech at the Jacob Burns Moot Court Room, Straw said that both the United States and the British governments are based on the Magna Carta, giving them a shared heritage. “Our very conceptions of government and the constitution, while on the face of it very different, are born of the same root,” he said.

Britain is one of only three democratic states, including New Zealand and Israel, that don’t have a written constitution. The United Kingdom is governed by a framework of documents dating back to the Magna Carta, written in 1215, and common law. There have been significant changes made, including the Human Rights Act of 1998, but there is not one cohesive constitution.

“Constitutions must modernize to reflect the world in which they are operating,” said Straw, referring in part to the U.S. Constitution, and in part to the draft he’s crafting.

Straw also spoke about the steps the United Kingdom has taken to modernize the government and how Britain can learn from the United States about the rights and responsibilities of a nation.

According to Straw, the United Kingdom has made progress in developing a constitution, changing the role of the Lord Chancellor to be more in line with separation of powers, and creating a Supreme Court.

“As benefits the constitutional trend towards the greater separation of powers, a United Kingdom Supreme Court has taken over a century before finally becoming a reality,” Straw said, adding that the strength of their legal system “depends on our judges being beyond politics.”

Straw referenced a U.S. poll that found that a majority of U.S. citizens considered the Bill of Rights essential. Straw said the British citizens may not be as vocal about it, but they are aware of their rights.

“I think an innate understanding of rights is part of our national psyche,” he said. “The next stage in the United Kingdom’s constitutional development is to look at whether we need better to articulate those rights which are scattered across a whole host of different places, and indeed the responsibilities that go with being British.

“It is not because we are a society in turmoil but because we are a society in flux,” that the U.K. needs to re-establish a constitution and a more cohesive bill of rights, he said.

Allison Huggins

Vanguard Founder Delivers Cohen Lecture

The Vanguard Group Founder John C. Bogle gave an in-depth analysis of the history and status of mutual funds to students and faculty members for the 27th Annual Manuel F. Cohen Memorial Lecture in February. A friend and colleague of Cohen, Bogle regaled the audience with personal stories of the former GW Law professor for whom the lecture series is named. The event was co-sponsored by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society.

To read a transcript of the lecture and leave a comment on Bogle’s eponymous-and-anagram-titled blog, visit The Bogle eBlog at

Major Oral Advocacy Successes 2007-08

Brianna Carbonneau and Emily Crandall Harlan won the ABA Client Counseling Regional Competition in February.

Claire Duggan

Brianna Carbonneau and Emily Crandall Harlan won the ABA Client Counseling Regional Competition in February. They advanced to the North American Championship in White Plains, N.Y., in March, which they also won. As North American champs, they represented the United States at the Louis M. Brown International Client Counseling Competition in Bangalore, India, in April, where they reached the semifinals. Harlan is the outgoing president and Carbonneau the incoming president of the ADR Board.

  • Christopher Higgins and Aaron Taggart won the GW Giles Rich Intellectual Property Moot Court Competition as decided by the final panel of Hon. Sharon Prost (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit), Don Dunner (Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner), and Raphael Lupo (McDermott Will & Emery). The team advanced to the Giles Rich regional in Boston, which they also won. Thereafter, they advanced to the nationals in Washington, D.C., where they reached the semifinals.
  • At the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition Super Regional, Erin Cumbertson, Jesse Okiror, Heather Bloom, and Aaron Wredburg won first place-memorial and quarterfinalist team (finishing sixth place overall). Cumbertson won fifth place oralist. These students then went on to win first and third place in the Scribes Brief Writing Competition, a “best of best” contest made up of entries that have won a best brief award in a regional or national competition.

  • Dean Frederick Lawrence presents a plaque of achievement to Christopher Higgins (left) and Aaron Taggart (right), winners of the GW Giles Rich IP Moot Court and the Boston Regional Competition. They were semifinalists in the National Competition.

    Abdul El-Tayef/

    Eric Klein and Jonathan Bond participated in the New York City Bar Moot Court Region III Competition, held in fall 2007 in Baltimore. They were Region III winners. They also won best brief. Bond won best oralist, final round, and best oralist, competition. Accordingly, Klein and Bond advanced to the National Championship in New York in late January, where the team won second best brief.
  • Michael Saretsky, Fred Wyshak, and Jamie Knepper performed well in February at the Pace National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, where they were semifinalists out of 70 teams.
  • Camilo DeGuzman, Faris Ghareeb, Kip Wainscott, and Adam White advanced to the top 16 teams in the world at the Willem C. Vis (East) International Commercial Arbitration Competition in Hong Kong. Wainscott and DeGuzman also won best oralist honorable mentions, and the team won honorable mention for best claimant’s brief. Senior Assistant Dean David Johnson and professor Andy Spanogle coached the team.
  • Erin Cumbertson, Jesse Okiror, Heather Bloom, and Aaron Wredburg advanced to quarterfinals of the Jessup International Law Moot Court Regionals in Washington, D.C. They won first place memorial; fifth place oralist (Cumbertson); and sixth place team overall.
  • The Space Law North American Moot Court Competition was held in April. The team of Thomas York, Caitlin Guilford, and Nira Amerasinghe won the award for the best brief. Elliott School of International Affairs professor Henry Hertzfeld, JD ’75, coached the team.
  • Russell Gold, Tanja Olano, Aaron Gregory, and Adam Pearlman participated in the Stanford Law School Mock Trial Invitational in January. The team earned honorable mention, and Russell Gold received third best attorney out of 64 competitors.
  • Chief Judge Eric Washington, Associate Judge Michael Farrell, and Associate Judge Phyllis Thompson, BA ’74, JD ’81, from the D.C. Court of Appeals, heard three oral arguments in the GW Law Moot Courtroom on Nov. 8. Four recent GW Law graduates are currently clerking for the court. These judges also presided over the semifinals of the Van Vleck Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition while on campus.

Van Vleck Competition

(From left to right) Van Vleck Moot Court champion Melissa Colangelo; Dean Frederick M. Lawrence; Federal Circuit Judge Randall Rader, JD ’78; 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt; D.C. Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown; and Van Vleck Moot Court champion Jeremy Glen.

Abdul El-Tayef/

From a field of 79 student competitors, four rounds of competition, and months of intense preparation, 3L Melissa Colangelo and 2L Jeremy Glen emerged victorious in the 2007-08 Jacob Burns Van Vleck Constitutional Law Moot Court Competition Championship. The winning team, who represented the petitioner, and their competitors, 3Ls Michael Hissam and Bonnie Vanzler, made superb oral arguments before a distinguished panel of judges: Hon. Janice Rogers Brown, U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; Hon. Randall R. Rader, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit; and Hon. Stephen Reinhardt, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The Jacob Burns Van Vleck Moot Court Competition is the largest and longest-running upper-level competition conducted by GW Law’s Moot Court Board. This year, hundreds of students, faculty and staff members, and members of the GW Law community gathered in the Dorothy Betts Marvin Theater to witness the event.

The fictitious case of Eugene Colbana, M.D., v. The United States of America concerned issues of free speech and the constitutionality of the application of a state-sanctioned suicide prevention act. The problem was written by 3L Dawn Conover and 2L Jocelyn Bond; “Dr. Colbana” was named after professors Thomas Colby and David Fontana, who supervised the writing of the problem.

Within the first 10 seconds of the first competitor’s argument, the panel was firing questions. The judging panel engaged the students throughout the competition, and each student took the pressure in stride.

While the judges were deliberating, Dean Frederick M. Lawrence and Senior Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Director of Advocacy Programs David Johnson recognized many students who participated in internal and external oral advocacy competitions throughout the 2007-08 academic year (see related article).

Rader, who earned his JD from GW Law in 1978, complimented and critiqued the performance of each competitor before announcing the final verdict, telling the audience that any good oral argument is “a good conversation,” and encouraging GW Law students to welcome and directly answer questions judges will have for them in the future. The judges named Colangelo as best oralist and Vanzler as the author of the best brief.

Katz Lecture Inaugurated

Cornell Law School Professor Oskar Liivak delivered the first A. Sidney Katz Intellectual Property Lecture Fund talk in February. Liivak presented his paper “Competition by Design in Patent Law” and had a discussion about his theories with faculty members and students.

Liivak has another connection to GW Law. His brother, Andre Liivak, a partner at Reed Smith, graduated from GW Law with a JD in 1999.

The talk is the latest donation to GW Law by Katz, JD ’66. Katz is a partner at Welsh & Katz Ltd. in Chicago. He also serves on the GW Law Intellectual Property Advisory Board.

Jacob Burns Law Library Acquires Rare French Law Collection

Jessica McConnell

The George Washington University Law School’s Jacob Burns Law Library has acquired the important rare French law book collection of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

This collection of 269 titles represented in nearly 600 volumes comprises the classic legal works of France from the 16th through the 19th centuries and augments the Jacob Burns Law Library’s noted French Collection.

Known as one of the world’s great legal research institutions, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York once collected legal historical materials from around the globe. When its mission shifted in recent years to serve the contemporary research needs of its members, the Bar sought to place a portion of its international historical collection with institutions capable of providing both the proper physical environment for the books and an appropriate research environment that would assure access to the materials, both now and in the future. The Bar concluded that GW’s Jacob Burns Law Library would offer the best new home for the French legal works it had collected over the course of many years.

“The partnership between the Bar Association and the Burns Law Library will expand to an exceptional degree the availability of resources for scholars researching the history of French and European law,” says Burns Law Library Director Scott Pagel.

The books from the Bar now are housed in a climate-controlled area and have been cataloged with provenance notes identifying them as formerly owned by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. All members of the Association of the Bar continue to have access to these materials. The collection was transferred in late November 2007.

Before restoration work on the collection begins, the library will include titles from the Bar’s collection in the Law Library Microform Consortium digital scanning project. LLMC is a nonprofit consortium of libraries dedicated to providing economical online access to legal materials.