When Jack Olender visited the Law School in September 2011 to attend his 50th reunion, it was just one of many such points along an unwavering path of friendship with his alma mater that stretches back to 1961, when he earned his LL.M. degree. Recently, however, the Law School has enjoyed an especially fortuitous and somewhat unusual connection to one of its most accomplished alumni. On December 6, the Olender Foundation, established by Olender and his wife Lovell to “counter poverty and violence and to promote opportunity and equal justice,” held its 26th Annual Awards ceremony. At the event, the Foundation awarded Thomas Buergenthal, GW’s Lobingier Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence and former Judge on the International Court of Justice, with its Advocate for Justice Award. The Olender Foundation also made a generous grant in support of the Law School’s Thomas Buergenthal Endowed Scholarship.
Just one day later, on December 7, both Olender and Buergenthal were presented with the Pursuit of Justice Award by the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists. The two men were honored for “dedicating their lives to the betterment of mankind locally and around the world.” Past honorees include Supreme Court Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg; along with former president of the Israeli Supreme Court, Aharon Barak.
To have both a widely respected alumnus and member of the Law School faculty receive such a prestigious award simultaneously was unquestionably a remarkable occurrence. However, this was not the first award to have been bestowed upon Olender during his extraordinary career. As president of the Washington, DC, law firm Jack H. Olender & Associates, Olender has prosecuted to a verdict or settlement more than 200 cases upwards of $1 million each, and his resolute advocacy on behalf of the injured has earned him recognition as one of the top malpractice attorneys in the nation.
Olender’s professional accomplishments and his concern for human and civil rights have garnered him numerous honors including the Trial Lawyers Association of DC’s Champion of Justice Award; B'nai B'rith International’s Commitment to Justice Award; DC Vote’s Champion of Democracy Award; Greater Washington Urban League's Community Service Award; and Washington Bar Association’s Ollie May Cooper Award “in recognition of his humanitarianism and he exceptional service to the legal community.” At its 30th anniversary celebration, consumer watchdog organization Public Citizen honored Olender for his "groundbreaking achievements in bringing accountability to American medicine" and his "tireless dedication to the welfare of the citizens of Washington through advocacy and philanthropy."
For an accomplished legal practitioner, Olender is remarkably reserved and reluctant to boast of his accomplishments and accolades. "He is a quiet, extraordinary lawyer,” said Alfreda Robinson, Associate Dean for Trial Advocacy. “For decades, Jack has opened his heart and provided financial resources and advice to many within the legal community, including other lawyers and residents in the Washington, DC, area and nationally.”
For his many contributions to the Law School and to the University, Olender was recognized in May 1989 with GW’s Alumni Service Award. In addition to serving as a member of the Law School Board of Advisors, he has supported the Seidelson Professorial Lectureship, the Dougherty Law Alumni Scholarship Fund, and the Nash–Cibinic Endowment Fund.
“We are very lucky that Jack continues to stay involved in the Law School,” said Rich Collins, Associate Vice President for Law Development. “By attending events such as reunion and Stockton Guard, and donating his time and resources to student scholarships and the larger GW Law community, he helps to provide opportunities for students to excel and follow their passions.”