skip to Main Content
Graphic: Civil Rights And Criminal Law Panels

2021 Summer Forum Preview: Civil Rights & Civil Liberties

By Charles Coughlin

At our 2021 Summer Forum, the Civil Rights & Civil Liberties panel will explore the critical role lawyers play in protecting individuals’ fundamental rights. Almost daily, there is news of another example of rights violations and ways protections are eroding. Demands to advance racial justice, protect voters’ rights for future elections, safeguard fair employment and housing, protect reproductive rights, and reverse the tide of racial disparity in education are rising. How lawyers can respond to these issues and more will be discussed at the Civil Rights & Civil Liberties panel on Tuesday, June 17, from 12:00-1:15 pm ET.

This panel’s moderator will be Brandy Wagstaff, Legal Counsel for Litigation in the Criminal Section’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit at the U.S. Department of Justice. In this role, Brandy provides legal and strategic analysis in support of the Unit’s enforcement activities and initiatives. Prior to joining DOJ’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, Brandy worked within the Department’s Civil Rights Division in the Disability Rights Section, where she engaged in litigation and developed regulations to enforce the American’s with Disabilities Act. She also works as an adjunct professor at George Mason University, where she has taught courses in legal writing, legislative and regulatory drafting, appellate advocacy, and disability law.

Brandy will moderate an expert panel, which includes:

Emily Martin

Emily Martin, Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice, oversees NWLC’s advocacy, policy, and education efforts to ensure fair treatment and equal opportunity for women and girls at work and at school and to forward policy frameworks that allow them to achieve and succeed, with a particular focus on the obstacles that confront women and girls of color and women in low-wage jobs. Prior to joining NWLC, Ms. Martin served as Deputy Director of the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she spearheaded litigation, policy, and public education initiatives to advance the rights of women and girls, with a particular emphasis on the needs of low-income women and women of color. She also served as a law clerk for Senior Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Judge T.S. Ellis, III, of the Eastern District of Virginia; as Vice President and President of the Fair Housing Justice Center in New York City; and previously worked for NWLC as a recipient of the Georgetown Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship.Emily Martin, Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice, oversees NWLC’s advocacy, policy, and education efforts to ensure fair treatment and equal opportunity for women and girls at work and at school and to forward policy frameworks that allow them to achieve and succeed, with a particular focus on the obstacles that confront women and girls of color and women in low-wage jobs. Prior to joining NWLC, Ms. Martin served as Deputy Director of the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she spearheaded litigation, policy, and public education initiatives to advance the rights of women and girls, with a particular emphasis on the needs of low-income women and women of color. She also served as a law clerk for Senior Judge Wilfred Feinberg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Judge T.S. Ellis, III, of the Eastern District of Virginia; as Vice President and President of the Fair Housing Justice Center in New York City; and previously worked for NWLC as a recipient of the Georgetown Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship.

Sharon McGowan

Sharon McGowan is the Chief Strategy Officer and Legal Director of Lambda Legal, the country’s largest and oldest legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and individuals living with HIV. Sharon joined Lambda Legal in February 2017 as its Director of Strategy and established Lambda Legal’s Washington, D.C. office. Previously, Sharon served as the Principal Deputy Chief of the Appellate Section of the Civil Rights Division in DOJ and served as co-chair of the Division’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Working Group. And she served as a political appointee in the Obama Administration in the role of Acting General Counsel and as Deputy General Counsel for Policy at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Sharon was also a Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project and was an associate in the Washington, D.C., office of Jenner & Block, where she was part of the litigation team that worked with Lambda Legal on Lawrence v. Texas, which resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court striking down all remaining sodomy laws as unconstitutional.

Jonathan Smith

Jonathan Smith became Executive Director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs in 2016.  He also serves as a Reporter for the Community Engagement in the State Court’s Initiative of the National Center for State Courts.  Immediately prior to joining the Committee, Jonathan was the Associate Dean of Experiential and Clinical Programs at the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clark School of Law.  Jonathan has also served as the Chief of the Special Litigation Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Under his leadership, the Section conducted the civil investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department following the death of Michael Brown. Jonathan had a distinguished and extensive career in civil legal services prior to his government service, including roles as Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, the Public Justice Center in Baltimore, Maryland, and the D.C. Prisoners’ Legal Services Project. Jonathan is also a member of the Washington Council of Lawyer’s Honorary Board.

Taryn Wilgus Nuss

Taryn Wilgus Null is a Senior Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Employment Litigation Section, where she litigates Title VII and USERRA cases.  Before coming to DOJ, she was an Associate at Mehri & Skalet, PLLC, a small, public-spirited law firm where she represented plaintiffs in employment, fair housing, and consumer protection cases.  Taryn also completed fellowships with Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the National Women’s Law Center and clerked for a judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals.

Join all the practice area conversations. One Summer Forum registration gives you access to all three days of programming.

And contribute your thoughts about the Summer Forum topics using #SumFo21 on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

Charles Coughlin is a member of the Washington Council of Lawyers Special Events & Fundraising Committee.

 

Back To Top