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PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT D.C. lawyers from Piper Rudnick; Jenner & Block; O’Melveny & Myers; and Gardner, Middlebrooks, Gibbons, Kittrell & Olsen stepped into cases challenging the government’s ability to withhold federal funding from law schools that bar military recruiters. In Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR), et al. v. Rumsfeld, currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, a number of academic and gay rights organizations claim the Solomon Amendment, which assists in military recruitment efforts, is unconstitutional. All firms submitted amicus briefs in FAIR on behalf of academic associations and faculties. They claim the amendment violates the schools’ right to bar discriminatory employers from recruiting. The U.S. military, they claim, discriminates under its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. In November 2003, the U.S. District Court of New Jersey ruled in FAIR v. Rumsfeld that the Solomon Amendment was constitutional. Oral arguments in the 3rd Circuit are scheduled for May 25. Several other cases pending in district courts also deal with the Solomon Amendment. Piper Rudnick’s Gay/Lesbian Alliance also submitted a brief in the similar Burbank v. Rumsfeld in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. And Jenner & Block partner Paul Smith, who argued the Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, submitted a brief in Student Members of SAME (Student/Faculty Alliance for Military Equality), et al. v. Rumsfeld, currently before the U.S. District Court of Connecticut. BIG BROTHER, BIG SISTER Big Brothers Big Sisters of the National Capital Area is looking to expand its “Jump Start to Positive Futures Program” in the city’s law firms, after a successful one-year pilot with Ross, Dixon & Bell. The program focuses on mentoring grade-school children at Stevens Elementary School in downtown D.C. For the past year, Ross, Dixon adopted the school � funding the program and providing 20 lawyers and support staff as mentors. Program coordinator Michelle Clark says she’s looking to partner more firms with conveniently located downtown schools. She concedes the greatest need for the program is in Southeast D.C. Big Brothers Big Sisters will bestow Ross, Dixon & Bell with its Service to Youth Award on June 3 at its annual dinner, which this year marks the organization’s 100th anniversary. HOPE HOUSE Hope House, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting D.C. prisoners with their families, will lose 40 percent of its budget this year. In response, the organization’s director, longtime D.C. activist Carol Fennelly, recently launched a drive to get financial and in-kind support from law firms. Lorton Correctional Complex housed D.C. prisoners until its closing in 2001, after a barrage of lawsuits attacked the facility’s conditions. While the prison was open, the city paid tens of millions in noncompliance fines that filtered into a trust account to fund organizations like Hope House. The money ran out last year. Without proper funding, the two-person office may have to cut back. Fennelly travels to prisons nationwide to record children’s stories read by their incarcerated fathers. She then sends the tapes and books to the children. Hope House also hosts prison visits via video teleconferences in their D.C. office, and holds a week-long summer camp near the federal facility in Cumberland, Md. PARALEGAL PRO BONO The National Capital Area Paralegal Association won the 2004 Association Pro Bono Legal Award from its umbrella organization, the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. Ten paralegals logged more than 100 pro bono hours each last year, including paralegals from Beveridge & Diamond, Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Patton Boggs, and Virginia firms McCandlish & Lillard and Hancock, Daniel, Johnson & Nagle. Russ Reiff, an independent paralegal, logged the most time, with over 500 hours at Bread for the City and the D.C. Employment Justice Center. KIRKPATRICK FUNDS SERIES Kirkpatrick & Lockhart has donated $100,000 to the Howard University School of Law to fund its multiyear lecture series. The Nabrit Lecture Series, named after the law school’s former dean, James Nabrit Jr., kicked off on March 25 as part of the school’s Brown v. Board of Education‘s 50th anniversary celebration. Nabrit was one of the lawyers who worked on Brown. Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree Jr. presented the inaugural lecture. REED SMITH DANCES Reed Smith raised more than $7,000 for the Hospices of the National Capital Region through fund-raising events, including a happy hour and a night of Carolina shag dancing on March 25. The fund-raising event was part of the firm’s community service initiative and will help pay for the organization’s nursing staff and supplies. The Hospices of the National Capital Region cares for individuals with terminal illnesses in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. HOWREY AWARDS At its first annual pro bono awards ceremony on April 13, Howrey Simon Arnold & White recognized partner J. Douglas Baldridge, associates Danielle Oddo and Ari Rothman, and senior staff attorney Vincent Verrocchio for representing the American Association of People With Disabilities in a successful voting rights case against Duval County, Fla. Lara Degenhart won the office’s associate award for her work in a discrimination case against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Degenhart began working on the case when she started at Howrey 10 years ago. A jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of her client in July 2003. The firm also awarded the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs its Public Interest Award. While many legal service providers honor private practice attorneys for their pro bono work, pro bono counsel Rachel Strong says the firm wanted to extend the award to a legal service provider that contributed to Howrey’s pro bono program. In 2003, Howrey’s D.C. office logged 36,000 pro bono hours, says Strong. SERVANT OF JUSTICE The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia honored R. Sargent Shriver, E. Clinton Bamberger Jr., Edgar Cahn, the late Jean Camper Cahn, and Lois Williams with its 15th annual Servant of Justice Award on April 22. Shriver, Bamberger, and the Cahns were recognized for founding the Office of Economic Opportunity’s Legal Services Program, the forerunner to the Legal Services Corp. Howrey Simon Arnold & White partner John Nields presented the award to Williams, formerly senior counsel at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and pro bono coordinator at Howrey. “I was overwhelmed,” says Williams of the ceremony. Williams, 65, left the Lawyers’ Committee last December and will be joining the Peace Corps at the end of May in the southern African country of Lesotho. Williams says that her three decades as an advocate in Washington have “always [been] in relative comfort,” and that she is looking forward to her Peace Corps work and “a simpler life.” TRAFFICKING POLICY Jenner & Block associate Martina Vandenberg served on a human trafficking expert panel at a NATO meeting in March. Vandenberg also delivered the meeting’s keynote address at NATO’s Brussels headquarters. The meeting was organized by Vandenberg’s pro bono client, D.C.-based Center for Strategic & International Studies, and aimed to develop a NATO policy on human trafficking. Vandenberg has represented the center since February, mostly advising it on human trafficking legislation. Prior to joining Jenner in February 2003, Vandenberg worked on human trafficking issues for several years, most recently at Human Rights Watch. Vandenberg admits it’s “quite an unusual pro bono project,” but says, “I was ecstatic that Jenner cleared it.” SAGE OF ANACOSTIA A team of Venable attorneys is helping a local nonprofit memorialize history on the banks of the Anacostia. Partners Margaret Strand and Gerry Treanor and associates Paulette Parker and Kali Murray have been working with Frederick Douglass Gardens Inc. to build a garden memorial for the “Sage of Anacostia,” abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The memorial is planned for Poplar Point, near his home in Anacostia, where he spent the last 18 years of his life. The team helped incorporate the nonprofit and has been working pro bono for more than a year. Strand, an environmental lawyer, is helping the organization with planning and environmental concerns, such as wetlands on the federal property. Others have helped with legislative and fund-raising efforts. They are currently preparing a report for the National Park Service. The garden is the brainchild of the Anacostia Garden Club. Strand says, “Gardens are a living memorial, and would be a great way to honor this man.” Pro Bono Bulletin Board is an occasional column covering developments in the public interest and pro bono communities. Alicia Upano can be reached at [email protected]

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