T

Summer Pro Bono Forum

The WCL Summer Forum, attracting nearly 200 summer associates and legal interns each June, has established itself as a must-attend event for aspiring lawyers. This unique event brings law students, working in Washington for the summer, face-to-face with public interest lawyers and private sector lawyers who have incorporated pro bono service into their law practices. 

Students will have the opportunity to meet other summer associates and legal interns as they learn more about how - and why - lawyers use their law degrees for public service in the face of pressure to increase billable hours and take on popular causes. 

2010

Over 250 summer associates and interns turned out to hear Professor Laurence Tribe, Senior Counsel for Access to Justice at USDOJ.  In his remarks, Professor Tribe spoke of the great need for pro bono service as the country works toward a justice system that provides greater access to justice for low-income and disadvantaged citizens.  As a long-time professor of Harvard Law School, Professor Tribe is well aware of the importance of early efforts by new lawyers, both in terms of immediate benefit and establishing lifelong career objectives.

2009

In front of a record crowd of 225 summer associates and interns, Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of Equal Justice Initiative, delivered a powerfully moving keynote address.  Skillfully weaving humorous anecdotes from his own life with wrenching accounts of the experiences of his death row clients, Mr. Stevenson encouraged the crowd of future lawyers to “be free and be brave” as they start their legal careers.  Acknowledging the necessary balance between public service and personal goals, he noted that it requires bravery to help those in need, but doing so helps us achieve personal freedom.

Based in Montgomery, Alabama, Mr. Stevenson and his staff have been successful in overturning dozens of capital murder cases and death sentences where poor people have been unconstitutionally convicted or sentenced.  His efforts to confront bias against the poor and people of color in the criminal justice system have earned him dozens of national awards including the National Public Interest Lawyer of the Year, the ABA Wisdom Award for Public Service, the ACLU National Medal of Liberty, the Reebok Human Rights Award, the Olaf Palme Prize for International Human Rights and the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award Prize. 

Mr. Stevenson is a renowned and inspiring speaker and WCL was honored to have him speak at the Summer Pro Bono Forum this past June.  Following lunch and the keynote address, attendees chose among four panels that were moderated by WCL board members and experienced practitioners, including Civil Rights/Civil Liberties, Criminal Law/Death Penalty, Immigration/Human Rights, and Non-Litigation Services.  Each panel was organized to encourage open discussion about the opportunities and realities of public interest and pro bono service within the specific practice areas.

After the luncheon, break-out sessions were held with practitioners who discussed their work and pro bono experience. These topical sessions, which cover civil rights and liberties, criminal law/death penalty, transactional pro bono practice, and international human rights, allow the summer associates to speak directly with lawyers whose practice areas may be quite different from those with whom they have worked thus far.

Many thanks to all of our panelists and speakers for volunteering their time and expertise!  We received many complimentary words of thanks from the summer associates and interns who attended the event.

2008

Rev.Barry Lynn was the keynote speaker at the 2008 Summer Pro Bono Forum on Thursday, June 5 in the offices of Arnold & Porter LLP.

The Council was thrilled to have Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, as the 2008 keynote speaker. Rev. Lynn, a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and an ordained minister, is a long-time activist and lawyer in the civil liberties field and brings a unique perspective to church-state issues.

Prior to joining Americans United, Lynn was legislative counsel for the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union. An accomplished speaker and lecturer, Rev. Lynn has appeared frequently on television and radio broadcasts to offer analysis of First amendment issues, including PBS' "New Hour," NBC's "Today Show," Fox News Channel's "O'Reilly Factor," CBS's "60 Minutes," ABC's "Good Morning America," and CNN's "Larry King Live." Rev. Lynn's career is a testament to public service. He is an ideal person to address future lawyers on the importance our profession places on pro bono service.

After the luncheon, break-out sessions were held with practitioners who discussed their work and pro bono experience. These topical sessions, which cover civil rights and liberties, criminal law/death penalty, transactional pro bono practice, and international human rights, allow the summer associates to speak directly with lawyers whose practice areas may be quite different from those with whom they have worked thus far.

2007

D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty headlined the Council's 2007 Summer Forum on Wednesday, June 6 at noon, at Arnold & Porter, 555 12th Street, NW.  Mayor Fenty addressed the necessity of young lawyers stepping forward to help in a city where a significant number of its citizens have unmet legal needs.

Following the Mayor's remarks, participants attended breakout sessions that focused on specific practice areas: including civil rights/civil liberties, criminal law/death penalty, immigrant rights, and community legal services.

 

2006

This year's Summer Forum was held on Wednesday, June 14th.  Keynote speaker Tom Perez, who has devoted his entire career to public service, spoke eloquently and knowingly of the need to find "passion" in one's work, and that this journey begins in law school.  Currently a member of the Montgomery County Council, Mr. Perez is the highest ranking Latino elected official in Maryland, and he has announced his candidacy for Maryland State Attorney General.

A graduate of Harvard Law School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Mr. Perez rose through the ranks at the Department of Justice to become Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights.  As a senior aide to Senator Ted Kennedy, he drafted the original hate crimes bill later passed by the Senate. Mr. Perez also was a Director of the HHS Office of Civil Rights during the Clinton Administration.  He is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, where he heads its Access to Health Care Clinic and teaches a course on Public Interest Advocacy. A first-generation American, Mr. Perez's achievements and dedication to public service are nothing short of inspiring. 

2005

The Council held its 2005 Summer Forum on Monday, June 20th. The Keynote Speaker for the event was Jamie Gorelick. Ms. Gorelick, currently a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, has served as a Member of the 9/11 Commission, Deputy Attorney General of the United States, General Counsel of the Defense Department, Vice Chair of Fannie Mae, and president of the District of Columbia Bar. The event was held at Arnold & Porter, 555 12th Street, N.W.

2004

The Council held its annual Summer Forum on July 9, 2004. The Keynote Speaker for the 2004 Summer Forum was Kurt L. Schmoke, Dean of Howard University School of Law and Former Mayor of Baltimore. During his tenure as mayor he initiated a number of programs in the areas of housing, education, public health and economic development. For his efforts in promoting adult literacy, President George H. W. Bush awarded him the National Literacy Award in 1992. His programs to improve public housing and to enhance community economic development were praised by President Clinton, whose administration named Baltimore as one of six cities to receive Empowerment Zone designation in 1994. The luncheon and keynote address was followed by break-out panels with practitioners from public interest legal organizations to further discuss pro bono opportunities and public interest careers.


2003

The Council's 2003 Summer Forum was held on Monday, June 16, 2003. As usual, the Summer Forum provided an opportunity for the Council to encourage law firm summer associates and summer interns at public interest organizations to either enter public interest careers or make pro bono a regular part of their law firm legal practices. Over 225 people packed Arnold & Porter's Paul Porter Room for a luncheon that featured a Keynote Address by Stephen Bright, the Director of the Southern Center for Human Rights. Stephen Bright has provided advocacy on the right to counsel, capital punishment, human rights in prisons and jails, and judicial independence since 1982. In addition, he has taught courses on the death penalty and criminal law at the Harvard and Yale Law Schools since 1993. At the luncheon, Mr. Bright spoke eloquently about the severe deficiencies in our nation's provision of counsel for indigent criminal defendants. He charged all members of the audience that "access to justice must be something you are concerned about" whatever career path you take - whether it is in government, a law firm, or public interest. Following the luncheon, the group divided into break-out panels with practitioners from public interest legal organizations to further discuss pro bono opportunities and public interest careers. The topics for this year's panels were civil rights/civil liberties; criminal law/death penalty; non-litigation practice (legislative, transactional, etc.); and international human rights.


2002

The 2002 Summer Forum was held on June 19, 2002. The Keynote Speaker was Peter B. Edelman , Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, and formerly Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Clinton. Professor Edelman spoke eloquently on the need for more attorneys to become "policy lawyers" and focus on the needs of people in poverty. He stated that while there are many low income people in need of individual legal representation on a variety of matters, in order to make a "structural difference" in the problems of poverty, more lawyers must become policy lawyers and focus on the "fundamental structural problems" in our economy. Following the Keynote Address, the group divided into break-out panels with practitioners from public interest legal organizations to further discuss public interest careers and pro bono opportunities. The topics for this year’s panels were civil rights/civil liberties; criminal law; and welfare and family policy.


2001

Our keynote speaker at the 2001 Summer Forum was the Honorable David Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Judge Tatel shared his fascinating and inspirational from-the-bench perspective on the need for attorneys to practice public interest and pro bono law. Judge Tatel also provided a historical view of changes in attorney attitudes toward public service, stemming in part from the increased pressures for billable hours. Judge Tatel encouraged the audience of Summer Associates and Interns to practice public interest law or pro bono law as a critical part of their legal careers. Judge Tatel’s encouraging words were echoed by the panelists who followed him and provided their own insights on job opportunities in civil rights law, international law/human rights, and poverty law.

About Us | Join or Renew | Advocacy | Bar Endorsements | Volunteering | Publications
Government Pro Bono | Civil Legal Svcs Jobs | Home | Disclaimer

Copyright © 2004. Washington Council of Lawyers. All rights reserved.