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2023 Summer Forum Preview: Civil Rights & Civil Liberties

The Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Panel will explore the critical role that lawyers play in protecting individuals’ fundamental rights. Although there are legal safeguards that prevent discrimination in many parts of our daily lives, these rights can often go unprotected and ignored without the help of pro bono and public interest attorneys. Our Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Panel will give attendees a glimpse at the great need for talented lawyers in this field and showcase ways that you can help protect individual rights.

Learn more about where these broad issues arise in daily life and how important a pro bono lawyer can be for those that experience them at the 2023 Summer Forum Panel on Civil Rights & Civil Liberties on Thursday, June 22 from 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm ET. Register here to join the virtual conversation.

Brandy Wagstaff will moderate the Civil Rights & Civil Liberties panel. Brandy is currently serving as Legal Counsel for Litigation in the Criminal Section’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit (HTPU) at the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. In this capacity, she provides legal counsel and strategic analysis in support of HTPU-led enforcement activities and initiatives; provides legal analysis and expertise on a variety of issues related to human trafficking prosecutions and appeals; and serves as the Human Trafficking United States Attorneys’ Office (USAO) Program Coordinator, providing legal counsel to USAOs in support of human trafficking prosecutions nationwide. Prior to joining the HTPU, Brandy served for seven years as an Attorney with the Civil Rights Division’s Disability Rights Section, where she engaged in litigation and developed regulations to enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, Brandy, a 2009 magna cum laude graduate of George Mason University Law School, joined the Mason Law faculty in the fall of 2009, where she regularly teaches Appellate Writing, Appellate Advocacy, Legislative & Regulatory Drafting, Civil Rights Prosecutions, and Disability Law. She also served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Alan Kay on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia prior to joining the U.S. Department of Justice through the Attorney General Honors program. And, prior to that, she served as Management Analyst and Paralegal Supervisor for 11 years with the Civil Rights Division’s Appellate Section.

Let’s meet our panelists:

Erinn Martin, National Women’s Law Center 
Erinn 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 a 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 Ramchandani, Relman Colfax
Tara is a Partner at Relman Colfax. Tara joined Relman in 2010, where her practice focuses on civil rights litigation. Tara maintains a varied practice, representing individuals and organizations in housing, lending, and public accommodations discrimination cases. Tara 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. Tara has spearheaded cases tackling the targeting of minority communities with predatory products. Her fair housing work includes frequent representation of fair housing organizations. Tara has also had significant victories challenging race discrimination in public accommodations.

Jim Ferg-Cadima, Lambda Legal
Most recently, Jim was the Deputy Legal Director at Lambda Legal, where he led the organization’s efforts to internally and externally reflect the mission of equitable access as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. Prior to joining Lambda Legal, Jim was the Chair and Commissioner of the Illinois Human Rights Commission.   When Jim worked for the Illinois Human Rights Commission, he ensured the Commission was an impartial forum for resolving complaints, including a sizable tradition of self-represented litigants, under the Illinois Human Rights Act. Prior to this work, Jim served as the Associate General Counsel for Public Safety in the City of Chicago Inspector General’s Office and as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy in the Department of Education under the Obama Administration. In these positions, Jim advanced civil rights and civil liberties by developing fair and accessible forums for the communities he worked with to be heard and strategically built processes that addressed concerns inclusively.

Joanne Lin, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
Joanne is the Executive Director of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. To that role, she brings 25 years of experience in advancing civil and human rights at every level of government – from the local to the national to the international arenas. She started her career in San Francisco representing women and children in family law, restraining orders, and immigration matters. She later joined one of the nation’s premier immigration firms where she handled complex immigration cases, including appeals in the federal courts. Joanne later moved to Washington, D.C. where she has led policy advocacy on women’s rights, civil rights, immigrants’ rights, and international refugee protection, at the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International USA.

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