Legal Clinics Update
As the 40th anniversary of GW's Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics quickly approaches, the clinical program continues to advance steadily in reputation and scope. Here are a few recent highlights:
• Fall 2011 will mark the launch of GW Law's new Neighborhood Law and Policy Clinic, directed by Professor Jessica Steinberg. The clinic will provide a variety of civil legal services to indigent people living in the District of Columbia. The clinic's caseload will include matters related to housing, public benefits, and consumer issues. The clinic also will focus on the civil legal service needs of ex-offenders and on public advocacy before rulemaking entities and local government bodies.
• This winter, Professor Anne Olesen visited Qatar University College of Law in Doha as a legal specialist for the American Bar Association's Rule of Law Initiative and its Women and the Law program. Bringing her knowledge of clinical legal education to the country, she taught classes, consulted with faculty on interactive teaching methods, and participated in the launching of two women's programs. A high point of Professor Olesen's visit was her participation in a mentoring program for female law students. "I was particularly inspired by the female law students who are at the forefront of a new generation of Qatari women," said Professor Olesen. "They speak of wanting to work in law firms, to become international lawyers and criminal lawyers, to defend human rights, and to use law to help others. I was honored to work with them." For more on this story, visit the Clinical Perspectives newsletter: http://issuu.com/gwlawpubs/docs/spring_2011_clinics_newsletter
• Jamesa Drake, JD '02, an alumna of the Federal, Criminal, and Appellate Clinic, reached a milestone in her legal career in January, when she argued a Fourth Amendment issue before the U.S. Supreme Court as the respondent in the case of Kentucky v. King. Another GW Law alumna, Ann O'Connell, JD '04, an assistant solicitor general, appeared on the opposing side, arguing on behalf of the U.S. government appearing as amicus curiae. FCAC's faculty and current students were all in attendance during these GW-filled Supreme Court proceedings.
The day after the Supreme Court argument, Ms. Drake returned to her alma mater to visit the Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics to meet with students and discuss the underlying proceedings in her client's case and the path her career has taken.
Ms. Drake, an appellate attorney for the Kentucky Department of Advocacy, reported that her yearlong clinical experience in FCAC turned her previously unformed post-graduate interests in the direction of indigent defense. After her graduation in 2002, she obtained a position with the appellate division of the Office of Public Defender Services in Salem, Ore. Within five years, she had argued more than three dozen cases before the Oregon Court of Appeals and six cases before the Oregon Supreme Court on behalf of her indigent clients. In 2007, she moved to an appellate position at the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy, arguing many cases before the Kentucky Supreme Court. She then transferred to the department's Capital Post Conviction Unit, where she now represents clients on Kentucky's Death Row.
Reflecting on her clinic experience, Ms. Drake observed, "I now have a much deeper appreciation for Professors Jenny Lyman and Anne Olesen as role models. They never disparaged opposing counsel, and they demonstrated perfectly how to fight hard for a client without bombast or hyperbole." She also said the lessons she first experienced in the clinic—about framing arguments, editing and polishing, maintaining your credibility as an advocate, and many others—remain with her today.
Turning to her experience as a public defender, Ms. Drake observed that "visiting an innocent client in prison is agonizing. Visiting anyone on death row is miserable. Arguing before a high court and losing is difficult. The lows are very, very low," but "the highs are very high."
• After a highly accomplished career as a legal educator and public servant, Professor Joan H. Strand, BA '72, JD '75, director of the Civil and Family Litigation Clinic for 32 years, retired in May and was named professor emeritus of clinical law.
A much-loved figure at GW Law, Professor Strand served countless students and clients over the years, while providing extraordinary leadership to the D.C. legal community. Service highlights include a term as president of the D.C. Bar from 1999 to 2000 and several terms as a member of the D.C. Bar Board of Governors and on the D.C. Bar Foundation. She also co-chaired the family law section of the D.C. Bar and served on various family law-related committees and task forces, including the D.C. Bar's Family Law Task Force and its Children's Initiative Committee.
Professor Strand received many awards over the years. In 2008, she was recognized by the Legal Times 30th Anniversary issue as one of the 90 greatest Washington lawyers of the past 30 years. We salute her and wish her the very best as she moves into the next chapter of her life and legal career.