GW Law School counts more than 24,000 graduates among its current alumni, including 150 judges serving on local, state, and federal benches, as well as national figures like former Attorney General William P. Barr, JD '77, former Treasury Secretary John W. Snow, JD '67, and U.S. Senators Daniel K. Inouye, JD '52, and Harry Reid, JD '64. Some of its greatest success stories, however, feature those who have returned to the classroom. These former students have redefined the role of the teacher to incorporate skills of diplomacy, executive leadership, public interest, and advanced scholarship, among others.
"We are very proud of our graduates who have chosen academic careers," says Professor Gregory E. Maggs, co-director of the National Security and U.S. Foreign Relations Law Program. "They have selected one of the most important and rewarding callings within the legal profession to ensure that the legal system will move forward by sharing their knowledge and experience with those who wish to learn."
GW Law's three academic degrees, four joint-degree programs, and three summer programs (Oxford [international human rights law], Munich [intellectual property law], and Augsburg, Germany [European law]) have produced a generation of scholars. On these pages, GW Law School Magazine presents some of their stories.
Gregory Williams, JD '71, MPhil '77, PhD '82, was a high school teacher by day and a GW Law student at night. Now the 27th president of the University of Cincinnati, Williams recalls that he decided to pursue an academic career sitting in James Starrs' criminal procedure class. "From that point on, my goal was to become a law professor," he says.
After serving as a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill for a few years, he began teaching legislation and, ultimately, criminal law and procedure. He then pursued a PhD at GW, combining work in the Law School's first clinic related to landlord-tenant work alongside Professor Eric Sirulnik with a course on "law and social change" in the undergraduate political science department. "Assembling a record of achievement requires perseverance, tenacity, and staying focused on the goal," he says.
Those qualities have propelled him to the forefront of academic leadership. From 2001 to 2009, Dr. Williams served as president of the City College of New York and, before that, dean of the Law School and Carter C. Kissell Professor of Law at the Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law. He is also the author of an award-winning and best-selling memoir, Life on the Color Line: The True Story of a White Boy Who Discovered He Was Black.
He attributes his leadership approach to former GW President Lloyd Elliott. "I do try to follow President Elliott's lead and meet with major representatives of the university regularly." That unique style earned him the "Governor's Tribute to African-American Leaders of Excellence in State Service" in 2004, the Austrian Cross of Honor in Science and Art, First Class, in 2006, "Dean of the Year" from the National Association of Public Interest Law in 1999, and the A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Preservation of Human and Civil Rights from the National Bar Association in 1999.
Dr. Williams urges students to consider that he was a night student and did not graduate at the top of his class. "I didn't think that I would be a law school dean, president of the Association of American Law Schools, or the president of a university," he says. "GW prepared me for those things, but it was up to me to achieve them."
Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999 for his work in the field of international criminal justice and for his contributions to the creation of the International Criminal Court, M. Cherif Bassiouni, SJD '73, is the epitome of a global statesman. The distinguished research professor of law emeritus at DePaul University College of Law and president emeritus of the law school's International Human Rights Law Institute was globe-trotting long before receiving his Doctor of Juridical Science degree from GW Law in 1973 and has continued influencing cross-border justice ever since.
Born in Egypt to a distinguished political family (his grandfather was president of the Egyptian senate and leader of the country's revolution against the British) and raised there during World War II, he met a man who had escaped from Auschwitz. "This had a profound impact on me as a child," he recalls. "As a result, over the years I became more and more committed to the pursuit of international criminal justice."
To fulfill that commitment, Dr. Bassiouni has served the United Nations in a number of capacities, including as chairman of the Security Council's Commission to Investigate War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia (1992-94) and independent expert for the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Afghanistan (2004-2006). He is currently the chairman of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry to Investigate Violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law in Libya.
Jessica McConnell Burt
"It seems that we never seem to heed the lessons of the past and continue to make the same mistakes," Dr. Bassiouni says. "It has reinforced my commitment to continue to expose these atrocities and to call on the international community to make people accountable in the hope that it will have a preventive effect."
His work has earned him medals from Spain (2009), Italy (2006, 1977), France (2006, 2003), Germany (2003), the United States (2001), Austria (1990), and Egypt (1984, 1956). He also has honorary degrees from five universities and is the author of 32 books on a wide range of legal issues. Recalling his mentor, GW Law Professor Thomas Mallison, he notes that "his extraordinarily courteous manner toward students and patience helped me a great deal.
"Being in legal education, you reach younger generations and future professionals who will hopefully commit their lives to a higher goal of pursuing something other than professional achievement. We should encourage people to think they can make a difference."
Mark Grunewald, JD '72, recalls being hit by tear gas on his way to class one day while attending GW Law School from 1969 to 1972. The interim dean and James P. Morefield Professor of Law at Washington & Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Va., notes that learning about the law at the height of the Vietnam War and then living in Washington, D.C., where he first practiced labor and employment work at Arent Fox and then moved to serve in the Office of Legal Counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice during Watergate, was remarkable.
Raised in a small Georgia town, he started teaching at Washington & Lee in 1976 and never left. "What inspires you as a practitioner is the intellectual challenge, but the excitement in teaching comes in helping students learn and have breakthroughs," he says. "The reward doesn't come in winning a client's case but maybe, with some luck, seeing your students succeed."
Over the course of his tenure, Dean Grunewald has helped the law school phase in an entirely experiential third-year curriculum, which includes simulations and practical courses containing in-house exercises in substantive areas, clinics, and externships. There also is a 60-hour service requirement as well as a professionalism protocol. "The things that I have done in teaching that have succeeded considerably and that have been most interesting are courses that fit that simulation model," says Dean Grunewald, who has chaired the school's Educational Planning and Curriculum Committee.
In addition to his scholarship and noted national expertise in arbitration, employment discrimination, and information privacy, among others, Dean Grunewald, who served as associate dean from 1992 to 1996 and as interim dean during the 1999-2000 academic year, is actively involved in the various pursuits of his students on a regular basis. "I take a lot of pride in the success of our students—in practice, teaching, politics, and business."
An Army ROTC scholarship brought Danielle Conway, LLM '96, to New York University's Stern School of Business from Philadelphia. And, after earning a law degree from Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., and a dual LLM degree in environmental law and government procurement law at GW Law School, her subsequent Reserve responsibilities brought her to Hawaii.
She was always interested in teaching, having begun her career as a legal research and writing instructor at the Georgetown Law Center and later at the University of Memphis School of Law, but she routinely returned to Hawaii for Reserve duty.
During one visit to Honolulu, she met the first woman to attain the rank of general in the reserves; the general's husband was a professor at the University of Hawaii. Six months later, she interviewed for a job as an intellectual property law professor there and began teaching in August of 2000. Professor Conway received tenure by 2003, and the faculty promoted her to full professor status in 2006.
Among her many accolades, she is the Michael J. Marks Distinguished Professor of Business Law, a Regents' Medalist for Excellence in Teaching, and the director of the University of Hawaii Procurement Institute. "To me it is important to show students that they can do absolutely anything as long as they are ethical, committed, and driven."
Her work with native Hawaiians was part of a Fulbright senior scholar grant she wrote to investigate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander intellectual property rights at LaTrobe University School of Law in Melbourne, Australia. "At the William S. Richardson School of Law, we have a mission that is grounded in promoting and advancing traditional Hawaiian values, considering all of the different constituencies represented in Hawaii, while also preparing our students to manage the rigors of legal practice in the U.S., Asia, and the Pacific," she says.
She taught classes at LaTrobe and went on a lecture series in Australia talking about indigenous intellectual property rights that serve indigenous peoples seeking to recapture their identity and resources by stewarding these rights. She also has served as professor and chair in law at LaTrobe. "I think that I show students that anything and everything is possible and that they can achieve regardless of where they come from, their social status, and society's definition of who they should be."
After 26 years at Yale Law School, Bob Solomon, JD '72, clinical professor of law and director of clinical studies, is creating a new economic development curriculum at the University of California, Irvine School of Law beginning in the fall of 2011. Professor Solomon attended GW Law School from 1969 to 1972 and admits that he went to law school "to change the world, nothing less."
He has spent the past 35 years admirably doing so. After five years at the Bucks County Legal Aid Society, he started the Center for Legal Rights to make law more accessible to area residents. Professor Solomon moved to the New Haven Legal Assistance Association in 1977 and became its director within a few years.
In a 1984 experiment with a professor at Yale, he collaborated with its law students on a series of employment compensation cases. Of the 25 cases they handled that semester, they won 23. He joined the faculty a year later and immediately started its landlord/tenant and homelessness clinics. He also helped support the existing mental disability clinic.
In 1999, as the local housing authority was about to go into receivership, the mayor of New Haven asked Professor Solomon to assume the role as the entity's director for one year. He hired a former student to become the deputy director, and they spent the next three years managing the institution back to health. When a local New Haven mutual savings bank went public, Professor Solomon represented the City of New Haven in contesting the demutualization and secured a $25 million settlement to help create a community development bank in its place. And, in an effort to secure suitable education for all residents of Connecticut, he and his team won 4–3 a state Supreme Court argument for minimum standards in education.
"I have always thought of myself as a litigator, but you are whatever you want to be," he says. "My primary theory is that I teach problem-solving, and sometimes in community and economic development that means solving the other side's problem as well."
Among the many prominent public figures who were once his students are Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Delaware Senator Chris Coons. "They are all my students in the classroom and my colleagues in the casework," he says.
Named in 2008 as one of the 90 greatest Washington lawyers of the past 30 years in the Legal Times 30th anniversary issue, Joan Strand, BA '72, JD '75, has been litigating child custody, divorce, child support, property division, and paternity cases, among others, with law students for more than three decades. The recently retired clinical professor of law began working with the D.C. Law Students in Court program during her third year at GW, then served as its supervisor until joining the faculty in 1979.
"Back then, clinical legal education was just getting started," Professor Strand recalls, noting that the program worked mainly with landlord/tenant clients. "In the clinic, you are trying to walk the line between collaborating, teaching, and fostering independence."
Noting that the supervisor-to-student ratio at the law school is 1 to 8, she has always spent a great deal of time with her clinic collaborators. "I meet with the students in a problem-solving mode to achieve a client's goals and objectives," she says. Despite their shared mission, "I can't plan a syllabus and tell people what happens because much of the work is dictated by the cases that come to us, what the judge decides, and how opposing counsel reacts."
Her tenacious approach to those judges and adversaries has elevated her status inside the beltway. In addition to serving as president of the D.C. Bar from 1999 to 2000, she received the D.C. Bar's Best Project Award in 1994 for chairing the D.C. Practice Manual Revision Committee and the D.C. Bar Foundation's Jerrold Scoutt Prize in 1997 in recognition of her years of service to disadvantaged persons in the District. "One of the great things about working at GW is that I have gotten to do so many things with the D.C. Bar that I feel have enhanced my ability as a clinical professor. I really look back on that with a lot of pride and satisfaction."
Of her retirement, she says, "I'll miss the students and the excitement of going to court," adding that the atmosphere at GW fosters and promotes the idea of professionalism. "I feel so fortunate to have had this great public interest career."
Before arriving at GW Law in 2004 to pursue a public interest career, Iselin Gambert, JD '07, associate professor of legal research and writing, had already won an award for expository writing. She was also an experienced program director for WomensLaw.org, where she spent three years focusing on the critical concerns of domestic violence survivor. She continues to serve on the advocacy group's board of directors.
At GW, she began writing for and working with WEAVE (Women Empowered Against Violence), as well as the ACLU National Prison Project. "The one thing that has connected all of the pieces of my life has been writing," she says. In fact, she was a Writing Fellow in the Law School's Writing Center, which leverages the talents of 40 to 45 second- and third-year students to help the incoming class and some of their senior peers to become better scribes.
Now the Writing Center's coordinator, she leads weekly meetings with the entire staff. "It is a very collaborative process," she notes. "I always tell the writing fellows that I do not have a monopoly on good ideas and that I am always interested in hearing their thoughts for improving and expanding the program." As a former executive notes editor of the American Intellectual Property Law Association Quarterly Journal and an editor of the GW Law Student Bar Association Student Legal Writing Review, as well as a member of its publication committee, she can relate to their perspective.
Gambert, who maintains dual citizenship with Norway and speaks fluent Norwegian, served as a clinical fellow in the International Human Rights Clinic and received the National Association of Women Lawyers Outstanding Law Graduate Award. She recently co-chaired the planning committee for the Capital Area Legal Writing Conference, the first regional legal writing conference in Washington, D.C., launched the Writing Center's website, and developed its online scheduling system. "I couldn't be more thrilled to be back working with the Writing Center."
Now in his 17th year teaching at GW Law School, Professor Robert Tuttle, JD '91, almost didn't receive his degree. The popular property, trusts and estates, and professional responsibility instructor (who taught the author's property section in 1995), took a leave of absence from GW Law in 1988, after completing his first year, to pursue a master's degree from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
Upon his return, he developed an interest in the convergence of religion and the law, with a particular focus on ethics, political theory, and the operations of religious institutions. "At some point during my return to law school, I learned that I love the law because it is about solving problems," recalls Professor Tuttle, the David R. and Sherry Kirschner Berz Research Professor of Law and Religion.
It was that love and a conversation with GW Professor Emeritus Robert Park that motivated him to join the faculty. "Watching Bob inspired me to think that law teaching was a great way to spend a life," Professor Tuttle says. He now spends it writing about religion, law, and the wide variety of legal issues that religious institutions confront.
After sharing a sabbatical with Professor Ira C. Lupu, the duo began a collaboration that now includes more than two dozen articles and reports on law and religion, as well as a forthcoming book. "One of the best things about being at GW is writing with colleagues," notes Professor Tuttle, who has also written articles with Professors Naomi Cahn, Thomas Morgan, and Peter Smith. Professor Tuttle's work with Professor Lupu attracted the interest of the nonpartisan Pew Charitable Trust, which engaged them as part of the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy to provide legal analysis from 2002 through 2008 on developments in the Bush administration's funding of religious social welfare programs.
In addition to his scholarship in this area, Professor Tuttle serves as pro bono legal counsel for the Washington, D.C., Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is a board member for Lutheran Services in America. "Everything we focus on in terms of doctrine comes back to helping students develop the skills to address the real problems that people face," he says, "and that's what I enjoy most about teaching law."