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Graphic: SF Civil Rights Panel

2022 Summer Forum Preview: Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Panel

At our 2021 Summer Forum, the Civil Rights & Civil Liberties panel will explore the critical role lawyers play in protecting individuals’ fundamental rights. The law prohibits discrimination in housing, lending, education, and employment, but too often, those rights are not protected without the expert guidance of a pro bono or public-interest lawyer. Civil Rights issues such as racial justice, voters’ rights, fair employment and housing, reproductive rights, and racial disparities in education are frequently in the news. Lawyers can use their skills to move toward justice and fairness. How? Our Civil Rights & Civil Liberties panel will discuss exciting pro bono opportunities and public-interest career options on Thursday, June 23, 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 Americans 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:

Jim Ferg Cadima, Lambda Legal 

Jim Ferg Cadima is the Deputy Director for Legal Management and Operations at Lambda Legal. He previously served as the Chair of the Illinois Human Rights Commission. Prior to that, he was Associate General Counsel in the City of Chicago Inspector General’s Office. He was the acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Education and also served as Regional Counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. He is a graduate of Virginia Tech and American University Washington College of Law. 

Erinn D. Martin, National Women’s Law Center

Erinn D. Martin is the Director of Nominations & Cross-Cutting Policies at the National Women’s Law Center, where she leads the Law Center’s advocacy on judicial nominations and cross-cutting policy work. Prior to joining the Law Center, she served as Senior Policy Counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and as a Staff Attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. She has also served at the U.S. Department of Justice, where her work focused on consumer protection and appellate civil rights matters. While at DOJ, Erinn was part of a trial team that won a landmark telemarketing civil penalty. She began her legal career as a legal fellow for the National Center for Law and Economic Justice. Erinn received her J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was a Frank J. Guarini Leaders in Government Service Scholar and a student advocate in the Brennan Center for Justice Public Policy Advocacy Clinic.  She holds a B.A. from the University of Maryland and an M.S. Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania.  She previously served as President of the Greater Washington Area Chapter, Women Lawyers Division of the National Bar Association (GWAC). 

Tara K. Ramchandani, Relman Colfax

Tara K. Ramchandani is a Partner at Relman Colfax where her practice focuses on civil rights litigation. Tara represents individuals and organizations in housing, lending, and public accommodations discrimination cases. She also provides strategic and legal advice on civil rights issues to non-profits and other organizations. Her litigation work often focuses on combating the predatory targeting of minority communities and ensuring equal opportunity, regardless of protected class, in the provision of housing and other services. Tara has successfully tried multiple cases to jury verdicts in federal courts throughout the country. Prior to joining the firm, Tara was a law clerk for the Honorable Algenon L. Marbley on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and then an attorney at Goodwin & Procter, LLP, where she worked on a variety of litigation matters. During law school, she was Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. Tara is a member of the Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services of the District of Columbia Circuit Judicial Conference for the 2021-2024 term.  She also serves as 2021-2022 Board Member for the Washington Council of Lawyers  Tara frequently speaks as a guest lecturer at law schools and taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan Law School. She regularly presents on civil rights issues across the country. 

Jonathan Smith, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs

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.

Join all of the Summer Forum breakout panels. One Summer Forum registration gives you access to five fabulous lineups of career advice and pro bono counsel! 

Contribute your thoughts about the Summer Forum topics using #SumFo22 on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn!

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