2014 Burke Pro Bono Breakfast Highlights Recent Washington Lawyers’ Committee Cases

 

On Wednesday, October 15, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (Committee) held its 2014 John Burke Pro Bono Breakfast briefing at the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel. The breakfast briefing is one of the Committee’s primary outreach activities and an excellent opportunity to introduce new firms and lawyers to the Committee’s work.

Marc Fleis. Burke 10.15.14More than 200 supporters from law firms, corporations, and foundations attended the annual event, which highlights recent pro bono cases and related matters that DC area lawyers and law firms have worked on with the Committee over the past year.

Former Committee Co-Chair and Arent Fox LLP Partner Marc Fleischaker spoke about John L. Burke, Jr., for whom the event is named. He recalled John Burke’s many contributions as a litigating attorney and general counsel for the Committee.

Committee Co-Chair and Wiley Rein LLP Partner Theodore A. (Ted) Howard opened the program and welcomed guests. Former Committee Co-Chair and Arent Fox LLP Partner Marc Fleischaker spoke about John L. Burke, Jr., for whom the event is named. He recalled John Burke’s many contributions as a litigating attorney and general counsel for the Committee.

Attendees learned about the Committee’s exciting plans for the year ahead and heard brief reports from the Committee’s project leaders working in the areas of equal employment opportunity, fair housing, immigrant rights, disability rights, DC prisoners’ rights, and public education. Law firm volunteers who worked with the Committee over the past year also spoke about their pro bono experiences on Committee cases.

Guest speakers at this year’s breakfast included retired US District Court Judge James Robertson, who spoke about criminal justice reform and his recent work as part of a judicial panel examining this topic. He stressed the devastating impact of the collateral consequences of arrests and convictions, particularly on the African-American population in Washington, DC.Washlaw Robertson 10.15.14

DC Bar President and Steptoe & Johnson LLP Partner Brigida Benitez also spoke, recalling her early years practicing law and volunteering on a Committee case.

The program included a panel discussion on DC prisoners’ rights and criminal justice. The panelists were: Covington & Burling LLP Associate Michael Beder, a lead author of the widely cited 2013 Committee report Racial Disparities in Arrests in the District of Columbia: 2009-2011; Nkechi Taifa, Senior Policy Analyst for Civil and Criminal Justice Reform at the Open Society Foundations; Elliot Mincberg, the Louis F. Oberdorfer Senior Counsel at the Committee; and Deborah Golden, Director of the Committee’s DC Prisoners’ Project. The panel, moderated by the Committee’s Executive Director Rod Boggs, also provided a preview of a report on the collateral consequences of arrests and convictions that will be published by the Committee shortly.

In concluding the event, Committee Co-Chair and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP Partner Lewis S. Wiener formally recognized Ted Howard, who will complete his distinguished service this year as Co-Chair of the Committee’s Board of Directors.

Click here to view more photos from the event.

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