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In mid-June, Arnold & Porter associate Rachel Toker witnessed the fruition of three years of work: the unveiling of a high-tech community center in Bellevue, a Southwest D.C. neighborhood. For Toker, it was the payoff for hundreds of hours of pro bono work. Toker, Arnold & Porter real estate partner Jennifer Perkins, and fellow associate Damon Smith worked steadily behind the scenes to help the Far Southwest-Southeast Community Development Corp. obtain a 6,000-square-foot property that had been vacant for many years. The Arnold & Porter team was able to secure over $1.7 million in municipal, federal, and private funding so that Far Southwest-Southeast could buy 3939 South Capitol St., S.W. “It’s been pretty intensive work, and at times it’s been my primary workload,” Toker says. In 2002 alone, Toker logged 383 pro bono hours. Partner Phil Horton says, “She’s clearly one of our pro bono stalwarts.” Toker, 30, signed on with Arnold & Porter in 2000 after a clerkship with Judge Myron Bright of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit. She quickly inherited the Far Southwest-Southeast project from former Holland & Knight partner Jerry Levine. Levine, who left his firm to be co-director at the Samberg Family Foundation, had worked on the project through Yachad, a Jewish community housing corporation that wanted to pair with a cross-faith community development organization short on resources and long on vision. Toker met Levine while she was a summer law clerk at Holland & Knight. They continue to work together at Yachad. The combination of legal work, Judaism, and community service was “a really good fit for me,” says Toker, who eventually became Yachad’s president through her work with the Far Southwest-Southeast CDC. The community group’s vision, which won over Yachad and Toker, is to take several abandoned Bellevue buildings, one by one, and turn the block into a positive cornerstone of the community. The community center is the first step toward the goal. The new tech center includes rooms for day care, three computer labs for the community, and housing counseling for families on the verge of homelessness. Lydia’s House, a nonprofit affiliated with Far Southwest-Southeast, runs the center’s programs. According to Deputy Director Ron Childs, the program serves 600 Bellevue residents. Bellevue has one of the worst high school dropout rates in the city, according to Childs, so the program focuses on teaching children math, science, and entrepreneurial skills. They also bring in motivational speakers and take the kids on field trips around town. For Toker, however, the most rewarding aspect of her work was dealing with her “inspiring” clients. The CDC’s leaders, she says, “believe their purpose is to save people’s lives.” She points to Childs as an example. Childs recalls when the space was dilapidated and empty. He had even used it one rainy day to play a pickup basketball game with the children the program serves. “It’s been a positive experience from beginning to end,” says Childs, the son of Patrice Brown, who helped found both Far Southwest-Southeast and Lydia’s House. “[We] learned more about what it takes to be a nonprofit.” Another founding member, Pastor Eugene Brown, worked with Toker to meet Far Southwest-Southeast’s goals. The CDC had originally leased the place and had finally considered purchasing the building. Toker recalls her conversation with Brown: “He said, ‘I want to do what will ultimately be the best for the children.’ I always think back to that moment.” With Arnold & Porter’s help, they bought the building and then another — a space that was once a theater and later a nightclub. This project, Toker says, will take a lot of work. For Yachad and the CDC, Toker says, “It’s just the beginning for them.” LAWYERS NEEDED The Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., or CLINIC, is looking for lawyers to help the thousands of immigrants who go unrepresented each year before the Board of Immigration Appeals. In 2001, almost half the detained immigrants that stood before the board were unrepresented. That year, the board began a collaboration with outside legal services like CLINIC, the American Immigration Law Foundation, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and the Capital Area Immigrants Rights Coalition to fill the gap with pro bono attorneys nationwide. Of the 100 national cases they take on annually, almost a quarter are handled by attorneys in the D.C. area, according to Molly McKenna, project coordinator at CLINIC. Project volunteers are matched with a mentor and write appeal briefs on behalf of clients, as the board rarely grants oral arguments, McKenna says. CLINIC coordinates the daily tasks of the project, which is now expanding its services to nondetained immigrants. THE GIFT OF READING Nine D.C. law firms donated nearly 3,000 books as part of Books for America’s Libros Para Niños book drive for kids in April. Crowell & Moring donated 600-plus books, more than any other firm. Crowell attorneys and staff donated many books from their personal libraries, including some of their children’s former favorites. Although the firm’s attorneys perform public service work through pro bono cases, Crowell & Moring partner Susan Hoffman says they continually seek community service projects in which all 500 lawyers and staff can participate. The book drive was a perfect fit. The Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia organized the drive, with the participation of Arnold & Porter; Hogan & Hartson; Holland & Knight; Irwin Campbell & Tannenwald; Jenner & Block; McKee Nelson; Spriggs & Hollingsworth; and Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. The books go to area organizations that predominantly serve disadvantaged Hispanic communities. TITLE IX SUIT Arnold & Porter shared a court victory with the Education Department last month when a D.C. federal judge threw out a Title IX suit alleging that the department’s policies lead to universities cutting and limiting men’s teams. The firm submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the National Women’s Law Center in the suit by the National Wrestling Coaches Association and other athletic organizations. Arnold & Porter partner Kathleen Behan and associates Michael Augustini, Lynn Tran, and Ellen Wasilausky Woodward served as co-counsel with the National Women’s Law Center’s Neena Chaudhry, Dina Lassow, and Marcia Greenberger. On the other side of the case, the plaintiffs were assisted by Covington & Burling partner Theodore Voorhees Jr. and former associate Tim Keefer, who wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the Independent Women’s Forum. The case is the most recent in a string of Title IX suits alleging constitutional infringements, all of which met similar fates in eight federal circuits. Judge Emmett Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the case on June 11. AARP The University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law honored AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly Director Jan May for his groundbreaking work in legal services management. Honored on May 9 with the school’s Advocate for Justice Award, May oversees 7,000 cases of elderly low-income D.C. residents each year. When he began this work in the 1970s, May helped create an effective model that every legal services program is now required to execute. “It came as a complete surprise,” says May of his award. D.C. BAR AWARDS The D.C. Bar selected Piper Rudnick partner Sheldon Krantz as its Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year and the D.C. office of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering as its Pro Bono Firm of the Year at its annual awards dinner on June 25. Krantz, chairman of Piper Rudnick’s pro bono committee, was honored for his work on adoptions with the Children’s Law Center and special education policy with the D.C. Appleseed Center. Krantz oversaw the work of nearly 40,000 donated hours in 2002. Wilmer, Cutler was honored for the “breadth and depth” of its pro bono commitment last year, says D.C. Bar spokeswoman Cynthia Kuhn. In an office of about 350 attorneys, 40 percent donated at least 50 pro bono hours in 2002. The office represented clients in the U.S. Supreme Court as well as in the lower courts. It is the first year Wilmer, Cutler was honored with the award. TULIA TEAM The pro bono efforts of a handful of D.C. lawyers from Hogan & Hartson and Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering paid off in the Texas panhandle town of Tulia, when a state district judge ordered the release of 13 individuals wrongly convicted. “It was a great day, a fantastic day seeing all these families reunited after four years,” says Wilmer partner Joseph “Ted” Killory, who went to Tulia for their release. In 1999, 38 individuals were thrown in prison on drug charges based on the testimony of a discredited undercover officer. On June 16, Judge Ron Chapman ordered the release of the remaining 13 prisoners on personal recognizance bonds, paying no money, pending appeal. According to Killory, other Wilmer lawyers on the case included counsel William White and Joseph Profaizer and associates Mark Oh, J. Winston King Jr., and Anitra Cassas. At Hogan, the team included partner Mitchell Zamoff and associates E. Desmond Hogan, Adam Levin, Jennifer Klar, Tara Hammons, and Lori Searcy, says Zamoff. The lawyer entourage, led by the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, is seeking pardons from the Texas pardon board or a victory at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for their clients, in order to, as Killory says, “properly correct the miscarriage of justice.” LAWYERS HAVE HEART The Lawyers Have Heart race celebrated its most successful year in its 13-year history, drawing more than 3,000 participants and raising about $300,000. The cause: medical research at local universities, through the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate of the American Heart Association. Piper Rudnick premiered as a signature sponsor with a $15,000 donation, and several D.C. firms made it into the winning ranks. Dow, Lohnes & Albertson raised the most money; Sidley Austin Brown & Wood recruited the most participants; Covington & Burling won the team competition for large law firms; and Richard Frank, co-founder of the event and partner at Olsson, Frank and Weeda, raised the most money on his own. ( Legal Times was a sponsor of the race.) “Pro Bono Bulletin Board” appears on the first Monday of every month. Alicia Upano can be reached at [email protected]. Next column: Aug. 4.

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