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Photo: 2018 Ethics and Transparency panelists

2019 Summer Forum Preview: Ethics, Transparency & Accountability: Suing the Federal Government

By Prianka Sharma

Our Summer Pro Bono & Public Interest Forum is one of our longest-running programs, but it is not immune to innovation. Last year, we added a new panel that addressed the cutting-edge issues of government ethics, transparency and accountability. The panel focused on a diverse range of topics including the Emoluments Clause lawsuit, the use of FOIA requests to understand and highlight ways that federal cabinet secretaries are using their time and taxpayers’ money, and how law firm attorneys can translate their expertise from past public sector work into pursuing pro bono lawsuits against the government.

The political climate has not cooled, so we are bringing this hot panel back again this year. The panel will touch on a lot of interesting issues and practical tips. It is not one you will want to miss!

The panel will be moderated by Jill Dash, Vice President of Strategic Engagement at the American Constitution Society (ACS) where she oversees ACS’ work on issues surrounding the judiciary and the rule of law. She also works on development of the ACS professional pipeline from law students to senior attorneys.

Jill will moderate the following panelists:

Cerissa Cafasso

Cerissa is counsel at American Oversight, a non-partisan, nonprofit ethics watchdog and FOIA litigating organization. At American Oversight, she represents a number of external plaintiffs, and engages with federal agencies to facilitate release of records in the public interest. She previously serviced as Counselor to the Deputy Secretary and Counsel to the Solicitor at the U.S. Department of Labor during the Obama Administration.

Megan Crowley

Megan is an associate at the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP where she represents clients in technology, life sciences, and the financial services sectors with special expertise in complex commercial disputes and administrative law. Megan is the lead associate on a team representing the University of California in challenging the government’s recession of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Prior to working at Covington, she served as a Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice in the Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch.

Valerie Nannery

Valerie Nannery is Assistant Attorney General in  the Public Integrity Section of the Public Advocacy Division in the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia. Valerie works on federal affirmative litigation, including litigation against the President over the Foreign Emoluments Clause. Valerie joined the Attorney General’s office after participating in the Supreme Court Fellows Program, where she worked at the Federal Judicial Center and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. She previously spent more than a decade in private practice.

Nitin Shah

Nitin serves as Senior Counsel at Democracy Forward an organization that exposes corruption in the executive branch, and  assist individuals and entities in holding the executive branch accountable through legal action. Nitin previously served as Chief of Staff and Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. Prior to that, he was an attorney in the Office of Legal Counsel, where he provided legal advice to the White House and Executive Branch agencies.

We hope you will attend the Summer Forum on Thursday, June 20, from 12:00 – 2:30 pm at Georgetown University Law Center.  The event includes lunch, a keynote presentation by Washington Lawyers’ Committee Executive Director Jonathan Smith, and the opportunity to attend one of six breakout panels, including Ethics, Transparency and Accountability, Suing the Federal Government.  Register now.

Prianka Sharma is a member of the Washington Council of Lawyers Board of Directors.

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