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FilmAid International was founded in 1999 to try to make the lives of the dispossessed more palatable by providing refugee camps with screenings of films — some that deal with practical matters like land mine safety and AIDS prevention, and some purely for diversion, taken from Hollywood’s greatest hits list. Lawyers at the D.C. office of Latham & Watkins have brought in FilmAid as a pro bono client and, on Oct. 17, the firm brought some star power to the halls of Congress. Actress Julia Ormond, who starred in “Sabrina” and “Legends of the Fall,” and FilmAid’s executive director, Deborah DeWinter, joined Latham lawyers that day in a lobbying blitz. Ormond co-chairs FilmAid’s advisory board, which also includes Susan Sarandon, Whoopi Goldberg, and Robert DeNiro. Also on the Hill that day were Latham associate Andrew Morton, who spearheads the firm’s work for FilmAid, and partner Nicholas Allard, who heads the firm’s government relations practice group. Morton says FilmAid wants to get money for film screenings included in a bill that will fund “public diplomacy” to the tune of $300 million. In the post-Sept. 11 world, that term has become something of a buzzword for programs designed to improve the image of the Western world abroad, primarily in Muslim nations. Morton says film can be a very adaptable medium. “With a mobile cinema truck, we can go where other technologies can’t,” says Morton. “In Kenya, we turned a desert into a drive-in theater.” Morton visited a refugee camp there last summer as part of his pro bono work. The FilmAid lobbyists met with Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) and with Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) The bipartisan bill passed the House this year but did not make it onto the Senate calendar. At an evening reception at Latham’s offices, Ormond said, “I produced a documentary, ‘Calling the Ghosts,’ which awakened in me an understanding of refugees as an issue.” (That 1996 film focused on the plight of women who were tortured in camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina.) Asked about what it felt like to lobby Congress, the British-born actress said, “Great fun. Great fun.” –J.G. MEDICAL ALERT Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky has teamed up with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights to defend an epileptic man who says he was banned from a Costco store. Joined by the Disability Rights Council of Greater Washington, Peter Goldstein sued the Costco Wholesale Corp., Arlington County, and four of Arlington’s police officers on Oct. 11, claiming discrimination on the basis of disability. After suffering an epileptic seizure in the Pentagon City store last year while trying to pick up his anti-seizure medication, Goldstein alleges he was escorted out of the store. When he returned the next day and again suffered a seizure, Arlington County police came and gave Goldstein a notice forbidding him from entering the Costco store again, according to the suit. He once more left without his medication. Says Linda Royster, executive director of the Disability Rights Council: “Individuals working in public places and law enforcement need to understand the difference between someone having a seizure and someone engaging in disorderly conduct.” Goldstein, who approached the Disability Rights Council, also sought out help from the Washington Lawyers’ Committee soon after the incident, says Lois Williams, the committee’s senior counsel for litigation and communication. “We met with him and thought he had a claim,” she says. Dickstein partner Joseph Kolick and associate Carmela Edmunds then agreed to assist on the case after the Washington Lawyers’ Committee brought it to their attention. So far, Kolick and Edmunds have helped in the initial investigation and the drafting of the complaint. As the case continues, says Kolick, “we anticipate involving a couple more associates.” As of press time, answers from the defendants had not yet been filed in the case. –J.M. AWARDS A number of firms, attorneys, and companies over the past month were recognized for their work in the public interest. At its annual meeting from Oct. 21 to 23, the American Corporate Counsel Association gave its 2002 Corporate Pro Bono Award to the legal department at the Philip Morris Cos. “We are very pleased to honor the Philip Morris worldwide law department for its tireless efforts to aid those affected by the attacks on the World Trade Center, in addition to the corporation’s ongoing pro bono legal work,” says ACCA President Frederick Krebs. After Sept. 11, attorneys from Philip Morris provided free legal work to victims and survivors, and volunteered at Ground Zero. The ACCA award has been given out for 17 years. Prior winners include Aetna Inc., Bausch & Lomb Inc., and the Ford Motor Co. Miles & Stockbridge received top honors from the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, which named the Baltimore-based firm the 2002 law firm of the year. Over the past two years, 28 Miles & Stockbridge attorneys have volunteered with MVLS, helping nearly 40 low-income clients. “Without lawyers willing to donate their time and expertise, there would be no Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service,” says MVLS Executive Director Winnie Borden. “We are especially grateful when a law firm works to create a culture of volunteerism among its lawyers.” Three D.C. attorneys and Dewey Ballantine were given the 2002 John Carroll Society Pro Bono Legal Service Award by the Archdiocesan Legal Network of Catholic Charities. Kathleen Blake Asdorian of Foundation Title; Sherman, Meehan, Curtin & Ain partner Michael Curtin; solo practitioner Barbara Lee Smith; and Dewey Ballantine received the honor at the 49th annual Red Mass on Oct. 6. The Catholic network is a pro bono service for the indigent and homeless in the District. –J.M. PUBLIC RECOGNITION On Oct. 28, the Frederick B. Abramson Foundation handed out its 2002 public service fellowships. Meant for graduating law students, judicial clerks, and practicing attorneys, the fellowships help compensate the winners for a year’s employment at a D.C.-based nonprofit organization or public interest law firm. This year, Antonia Fasanelli won a fellowship to work at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, Rebekah Gleason for Good Shepherd Ministries, Ivy Lange for the D.C. Prisoners’ Legal Services Project, Laura Rinaldi for the Children’s Law Center, and Amy Vruno for the D.C. Employment Justice Center. The cocktail reception honoring the fellowship recipients featured remarks from Georgetown University Law Center professor David Cole. –J.M.

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