Community Impact & Newsroom

The Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics (GW Law Clinic) represents individuals and organizations worldwide that otherwise would not be able to afford legal services. We routinely share client interviews, media, achievements, and experiences to keep alumni, practitioners, scholars, and students in the field informed about recent GW Law Clinic news and community developments.


 

Select Client Interviews & Media
Small Business & Community Economic Development Clinic

Dana Tai Soon Burgess
Founding Director, Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company

Brandon Zimmerman, PhD
Optical Physicist

Serena Ferguson, Greyson Mann, and Patricia Stamper
Friends of the DC Streetcar

 

Select Client Achievements

  • In 2014, CAPS won dismissal of a juvenile case where the defendant had been convicted of burglary based solely on fingerprint evidence found on a video game case that had been moved during the burglary.  The appellate court found that the State had failed to eliminate the reasonable hypothesis that the defendant touched the video game – a highly portable object - at a time other than that of the crime. 

  • In 2014, the Maryland Court of Appeals ha granted certiorari to consider the cutting edge issue of admissibility of social media evidence.  In this case, where the defendant had claimed self-defense in connection with an assault charge, the trial court refused to admit evidence of a Facebook conversation that would have seriously impeached the State's key witness.  The Court of Appeals took the case after the intermediate court upheld the trial court’s decision. 

  • In 2013, CAPS represented a client serving a ten-year sentence for charges related to fleeing the scene of a fatal accident.  Students successfully argued that the sentence in the case was impermissible because special factors were required to exceed the standard five-year sentence for this offense, and no special factors were asserted at trial. 

  • In 2013, CAPS won reversal in a gun possession case where the appellate court found the trial judge had given a misleading instruction in response to a jury question. 

  • In 2013, the appellate court reversed a defendant’s manslaughter conviction based on “mutual affray” after ruling that the defendant was wrongfully denied a self-defense instruction at trial. 

  • In 2012, CAPS won dismissal of a criminal fraud case based on a violation of Maryland's speedy trial act. Also during 2012, CAPS obtained a reversal in a resisting arrest case where an Agreed Upon Statement of Facts failed to state facts sufficient to support the conviction.

  • In 2012, CAPS litigated a complex and novel issue concerning the admissibility of a complaining witnesses' prior consistent statements, which resulted in the reversal of a sex offense conviction.​

  • June 16, 2021 - "We never go to bed angry." That's what our client, W-C-, describes as the secret to making his marriage work. On June 16, 2021,W-C- was approved for a green card based on his marriage to his U.S. citizen husband, J-C-. W-C- had his interview at USCIS the day before, where he was represented by Clinic intern, Jasmine Martinez, JD '23. Though the USCIS officer was tough, Team W-C- was tougher. W-C- was initially represented by the Clinic for an asylum case after being arrested, sexually assaulted, and disowned by his family in Zimbabwe for being a gay man. While in the U.S. waiting for an interview on his asylum case, he met his husband and is now the stepfather to J-C-'s two small girls. The Clinic was especially proud to celebrate this victory during Pride Month. Please join me in congratulating Abril Costanza Lara, Esder Chong, Halima Nur, Sanaa Khan, Jasmine Martinez, and Paulina Vera, who all worked on the case.

  • May 22, 2021 - GW Law Immigration Clinic law students write to Congress advocating for the introduction of legislation creating a politically independent immigration court system. Read Full Letter

  • March 19, 2021 - "I told him about it and he was happy and crying at the same time. Thank you so much your team is just awesome! God bless y'all so much!" On March 19, 2021, our client P-M- shared this message after learning that she was granted a T visa for victims of trafficking. When P-M- was 11 years old, her stepfather, who worked for the embassy of the African country they are from, brought P-M- and her mother to the United States. Her stepfather began to isolate P-M- in their home to sexually abuse her and even did so inside of the embassy. He threatened to send P-M- back to Africa to live by herself if she told anyone what happened. The abuse continued for two years. As a result of the sexual abuse she faced as a minor, P-M- suffered from eating disorders and suicidal ideation in her adulthood.  In 2019, with the emotional support of her husband, A-M-, P-M- reported her stepfather to the police and he was ultimately sentenced to eight years in prison. A-M- is currently in removal proceedings and the Clinic will move to terminate these proceedings based on A-M-'s derivative T visa status. This means that P-M-, A-M-, and their three U.S. citizen children, all under the age of 10, can stay together in the United States. Please join in congratulating Navil Infante, Leah Aoun, Madeleine Delurey, Sam Thomas, Sarah Husk, Julia Yang, and Paulina Vera, who all worked with team P-M-/A-M-.

  • January 15, 2021 - After over five years, three interviews, one request for evidence, one almost-filed mandamus action, and countless inquiries, our client M-M- was finally granted asylum by the Arlington Asylum Office on January 15, 2021. The application was filed on November 25, 2015. M-M- is a Muslim lawyer from Iran who received threats from the government based on her human rights work and her involvement in the 2009 presidential election. M-M- was also threatened and sexually assaulted after a stranger became aware of her relationship with a Jewish Iranian man. M-M- came to the U.S. to further her education and pursue an LLM but feared returning to Iran because she continued her human rights work here and also maintained romantic relationships with non-Muslim partners. Sadly, the prolonged delay in M-M-'s case has caused her to defer many opportunities, like pursuing her JD, and has further exacerbated her PTSD. Please join in congratulating Fayruz Lama, Sebastian Weinmann, Sanaa Khan, Alex North, Amy Lattari, Allison Mateo, Chen Liang, Michaela Andriatch, Sameen Ahmadnia, Paulina Vera, and Jonathan Bialosky, who all worked on the case.

 

The scores of students who have participated in the Public Justice Advocacy Clinic over the years have a record of accomplishment of which they can be very proud. To date, PJAC students have successfully represented over 80 low-income clients in DC unemployment compensation appeals, generating an estimated $500,000 for unemployed workers and their families.  

In addition, PJAC students have represented over 70 low-wage workers in wage theft cases, contending that their employers have violated federal or DC wage payment statutes. Many of our clients are Spanish-speaking and work in the construction and restaurant industries. We have also represented several clients in cases claiming that a public accommodation had discriminated against them on the basis of their disability. Together, PJAC students have secured judgments or settlements totaling over $1 million in these cases.

PJAC students have also worked with nearly 20 low-income DC residents in their efforts to secure name change orders or amended birth certificates necessary to obtain DC driver’s licenses or identification cards. These cards unlock opportunities for these clients to obtain needed government benefits.  One such case was featured on the cover of the GW Law Magazine.

We have also successfully represented local nonprofits and individuals in obtaining records sought under the federal or District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act. Our clients have obtained the records necessary to advocate for legal reforms, to shine a light on government or other misconduct, and to perform necessary academic research.  

The following are examples of recent cases in which Public Justice Advocacy Clinic students and faculty have successfully represented clients:

Unemployment Compensation Cases

  • Successfully represented a group house manager accused of insubordination.

  • Obtained unemployment benefits for a security guard who had originally been denied benefits due to alleged theft.

  • Persuaded an administrative law judge, in two separate cases, to reverse the denial of benefits to food service workers wrongly accused of assaulting co-workers.

  • Persuaded an administrative law judge to reverse the denial of benefits to a building engineer accused of violating company rules on moonlighting.

  • Successfully represented a nonprofit employee fired for missing work time due to symptoms of COVID-19.

  • Obtained unemployment benefits for a client by successfully arguing that, under the circumstances, the client, a security guard who fell asleep on the job, had not engaged in gross misconduct.

  • Persuaded an administrative law judge to award benefits to a security guard who resigned her job because of an illness caused by her employment.

  • Obtained unemployment benefits for a woman who had been terminated shortly after complaining of sexual harassment in the workplace.

  • Obtained unemployment benefits for a man fired after leaving his job to care for a severely ill relative.

  • Persuaded an administrative law judge to reverse the denial of benefits to a man who left his shift early from a location far from home during a weather emergency.

  • Obtained benefits for a woman terminated from national retail chain for leaving her shift, with permission, to care for her children.

Freedom of Information Act Cases

  • Represented Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in Freedom of Information Act cases to obtain documents relating to President Trump’s meeting with Russian officials in May 2017 and to obtain records regarding the defunding of grants to groups fighting white nationalism. (CREW v. NSA, No. 18-00569; CREW v. DHS, No. 19-03544.)

  • Represented the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless in a case seeking records documenting complaints about homeless shelters and the agency administering them. (WLCH v. DHS, No. 2020 CA 001678.)

  • Filed and won a Freedom of Information Act case seeking data relating to the Medicare Advantage Program on behalf of a George Washington University professor. Biles v. CMS, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39269, 2013 WL 1154207 (D.D.C. Mar. 21, 2013).

  • Filed and settled on favorable terms a federal Freedom of Information Act case seeking records relating to the District of Columbia's implementation of a federal settlement governing accessibility to homeless shelters. Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless v. U.S. Department of Justice, No.11-2023 (D.D.C.).

  • Successfully litigated a Freedom of Information Act case on behalf of the National Security Archive against the SEC seeking documents relati​​ng to the relationship between Chiquita Brands International and armed militia organizations in Colombia. Chiquita Brands v. SEC, 10 F.Supp.3d 1 (D.D.C. 2013),aff’d, 805 F.3d 289 (D.C. Cir. 2015).

District of Columbia Court of Appeals Cases

  • Represented a family in a mediation arising from a dispute with the District of Columbia government about a land use matter.

  • Successfully appealed a denial of unemployment to the D.C. Court of Appeals for a client who was late to or absent from work on many occasions due to health emergencies and car trouble. Students represented the client at the initial hearing before an Administra​tive Law Judge and briefed the case before the D.C. Court of Appeals. The court reversed the ALJ and ordered that benefits be paid. Hamilton v. Hojeij Branded Food, Inc. 41 A.3d 464 (D.C. 2012).

  • Prevailed in a case before the D.C. Court of Appeals seeking attorney's fees for law student time in a worker's compensation case. Copeland v. District of Columbia Department of Employment Services, 3 A.3d 331 (D.C. 2010).

Superior Court Cases

  • Successfully represented a woman in enforcing a judicial order requiring the D.C. Bureau of Vital Statistics to issue her a birth certificate so that she could obtain D.C. identification documents.

  • Represented the family of a deceased Nepalese environmentalist probate a District of Columbia estate.

  • Represented disabled woman in probate case leading to her receipt of a substantial sum from her father’s estate.

  • Secured a judgment, following a day-long trial, for a worker not fully paid for his services on a home painting project.

  • Defended a woman caring for a disabled granddaughter against claims that she had waived her rights under the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act.

  • Won a D.C. Superior Court judgment for over $12,000 for a cleaning company employee who was not properly paid for her work. After the debtor refused to pay the judgment, students worked for over a year to locate assets that could be seized and successfully garnished the entire amount owed.

  • Filed and favorably settled several suits on behalf of Spanish-speaking construction workers for wages not paid by a large local developers.

  • Filed and settled on favorable terms many cases on behalf of restaurant workers denied overtime and/or minimum wages.

  • In 2021, the Clinic reviewed documentation on lost wages with a client, and used this information to negotiate with the Department of Justice attorney to reach a compromise that our client was satisfied with. The pain and suffering in the award alone totaled $217,000. ​​Clinic students have procured millions of dollars in damages for vaccine-injured adults and children over the years.

  • In recent years, Clinic students have written amicus briefs for the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the US Supreme Court.

  • In recent years, Clinic students have advised members and committees of Congress and drafted legislation to improve the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program that has been introduced on the floor of the House of Representatives.

 

Recent Clinic News Stories

GW Law Clinics Advocating for Tenant's Rights, Serving Clients Seeking Relief from Homelessness, and More

This spring, the GW Law Clinics have continued to provide wide-ranging legal services throughout the District of Columbia, while breaking down barriers for our clients and serving our neighbors who struggle with homelessness and poverty.

Meet Clinic Alumna Andrea Willis-Johnson, the new Managing Attorney of the GW Law Clinics

In 2021, Clinic Alumna Andrea Willis-Johnson, Esq. returned to GW Law’s Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics (GW Clinics) as its new Managing Attorney. Mrs. Willis-Johnson brings with her years of corporate and transactional experience.

The Prisoner & Reentry Clinic is Reuniting Families through Compassionate Release Cases

This year, student attorneys in the Prisoner & Reentry Clinic (PARC) led by Director Jessica Steinberg with the support of Friedman Fellow Elenore Wade won a grant of compassionate release for Forest, a client who had been incarcerated for forty years, and he came home this Spring.

The Public Justice Advocacy Clinic Helps Client Access Long-Term Supportive Housing Benefits from DC’s Rapid Rehousing Program

Each year, the Law School’s Clinical Program (GW Law Clinics) selects a third-year law student to receive the prestigious Jacob & Charlotte Lerhman Foundation Student Director Fellowship position. This Student Director, who is enrolled in one of our many clinical programs, works closely with the Clinic’s leadership team to assist in managing the clinics.

GW Law Students with Rising For Justice Serve Clients Facing Eviction in DC in Connection With End of Washington, DC’s COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium

The Rising for Justice Clinic (RFJ) led by Paul DiBlasi with the oversight of David Johnson, GW’s Assistant Dean for Pro Bono & Advocacy Programs, has worked on several housing matters to help clients at risk of losing subsidized housing and working to avoid eviction.

The Civil Access to Justice Clinic (CAJC) – Employment Law Division

The Civil Access to Justice Clinic (CAJC) – Employment Law Division is a 2-credit clinic that focuses on providing legal advice and lawyering to workers who have not been properly compensated by their employers.

The Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic Continues its Nationwide Advocacy for Clients Injured by Vaccines, Including their First COVID-19 Client

For over two decades GW Law’s Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic (VILC), has remained the only legal clinic in the country that allows student attorneys to experience the practice of law in the unique field of vaccine injury litigation.

GW Law’s Joan Meier Is Installed in Newly Endowed Professorship Supporting Family Violence Survivors

A $2.75 million gift from an anonymous donor endowed the new GW Law National Family Violence Law Center Professorship.

GW Law Clinic Lehrman Scholarship Recipient and Student Director, Brittany Gault (Class of ‘22), Soon Passes the Baton

Each year, the Law School’s Clinical Program (GW Law Clinics) selects a third-year law student to receive the prestigious Jacob & Charlotte Lerhman Foundation Student Director Fellowship position. This Student Director, who is enrolled in one of our many clinical programs, works closely with the Clinic’s leadership team to assist in managing the clinics.

Unlocking the Power of Pandemic Partnerships: New Clinic Collaborations Addressing Critical Needs in Underserved Communities

GW Law Clinics seized the opportunity to strengthen community partnerships and develop long-term collaborations to address the needs of many underserved populations.

Social Worker, Bonnie McIntyre Serves in A Critical Role to Help the GW Law Clinics Provide Holistic Services to Clients

Doctoral candidate Bonnie McIntyre is making her mark as the first Social Worker in the Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics at The George Washington University Law School.

Health Rights Law Clinic Client with “Invisible” Disabilities Successfully Qualified for Continued Home Care Which Helped Ensure Suitable Care for Children in Need

The Health Rights Law Clinic (“HRLC”), directed by Professor Suzanne Jackson, advocated for a client to help her keep her home care, which was threatened by evaluators using new eligibility criteria.

The Family Justice Litigation Clinic Developed Collaborations with Courts and Local Law School Clinics to Improve Access to Justice for Litigants

The Family Justice Litigation Clinic (“FJLC”), directed by Associate Dean Laurie Kohn and co-taught by Daniel Bousquet and Karen Barker Marcou, has developed multiple projects to help potential litigants overcome barriers to accessing justice.

Friedman Fellow Elenore Wade Receives Appointment at Rutgers Law School

Elenore Wade, JD ’18, has been appointed as a tenure-track associate professor of law.

Civil Access to Justice Clinic-Family Division Will Launch In Spring 2022

The pilot clinic will use clinical pedagogy and allow student attorneys to develop their practical skills with reduced time investment.

Over the years, Clinic News has been published by GW Law to keep alumni, practitioners, scholars, and students in the field informed about the Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics news and developments. Clinic News and Newsletters from previous academic years are available below.

Clinics Newsletters