On the evening of Saturday, December 2, the Foundation and the Bar Association of the District of Columbia will host their 146th Annual Gala.
This black-tie event at the brand new InterContinental Washington DC – The Wharf (only just recently opened) will celebrate the prior year in the legal profession with open bar happy hour (courtesy of WilmerHale), photobooth, fireworks, dinner, and live entertainment and dancing – we hope you will join the holiday fun with friends, colleagues and honorees.
Get your tickets today!
Includes dinner, drinks, dancing & awards.
Introduced by: Matt Axelrod
Sally Yates, former Acting U.S. Attorney General, is a Distinguished Lecturer at Georgetown University Law Center.
Yates is a long-time veteran of the Department of Justice, rising from the ranks of Assistant United States Attorneys to become U. S. Attorney, Deputy Attorney General, and finally, Acting Attorney General.
During her tenure at the U. S. Attorney’s office in Atlanta, Yates prosecuted a broad spectrum of criminal matters, specializing in white collar and public corruption cases. Notably, she led the prosecution of Atlanta Olympics bomber Eric Rudolph and prosecuted a long line of state and local officials for corruption offenses.
As Deputy Attorney General, Yates was responsible for overseeing all facets of the Justice Department’s work, including its four law enforcement agencies (the FBI, ATF, DEA and Marshals Service), its prosecutorial, litigating and national security components, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the department’s various grant-making and legal services offices.
In addition to managing the day-to-day operation of the Justice Department, during her tenure as Deputy Attorney General, Yates focused on criminal justice reform and prison reform; ensuring individual accountability for corporate wrongdoing; and utilizing prosecutorial resources in a focused manner to build safer communities.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan
U.S. District Judge for the
District of Columbia
Introduced by: Rob Cary
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan was born in Washington, D.C., and attended public schools in the District of Columbia until his graduation from McKinley High School in 1964. In 1968, he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Howard University and, in 1971, a Juris Doctor Degree from the Howard University School of Law. Upon graduation from law school, Judge Sullivan was the recipient of a Reginald Heber Smith Fellowship and was assigned to the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in Washington, D.C. The following year, he served as a law clerk to Superior Court of the District of Columbia Judge James A. Washington, Jr., a former professor and Acting Dean of Howard University School of Law.
In 1973, Judge Sullivan joined the law firm of Houston & Gardner. He subsequently became a partner and was actively engaged in the general practice of law with that firm until August 1980, when his law partner, William C. Gardner, was appointed as an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Thereafter, Judge Sullivan was a partner in the successor firm of Houston, Sullivan & Gardner. Over the years, ten lawyers from the Houston law firm went on to become judges.
While in private practice, Judge Sullivan was a member of a number of bar associations, and served on various court advisory and rules committees. He was admitted to practice law before the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the United States Court of Military Appeals, the United States Tax Court, and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. He was a perennial voting delegate to the Circuit Judicial Conference and the District of Columbia Judicial Conference. He served on the Board of Directors of the District of Columbia Law Students in Court Program; the District of Columbia Judicial Conference Voluntary Arbitration Committee; the Nominating Committee of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia; and the U.S. District Court Committee on Grievances.
On October 3, 1984, Judge Sullivan was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve as an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. As an Associate Judge of the Superior Court, Judge Sullivan was one of only seven judges in the twenty-four year history of that court to have served full-time in every division. He served as the Deputy Presiding Judge and Presiding Judge of the Probate and Tax Divisions, as well as chairperson of the Rules Committee for those divisions. He was also a member of the Court Rules Committee and the Jury Plan Committee. Judge Sullivan has been featured as the Judge in two juror orientation movies – one shown to prospective jurors in Superior Court and another used by the Council for Court Excellence to educate students about their future responsibility as jurors – and in a training film for the Probation and Pretrial Services Divisions of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.
On November 25, 1991, Judge Sullivan was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to serve as an Associate Judge of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. While an Associate Judge of that court, and in addition to his full-time case management responsibilities, Judge Sullivan was Chairperson for the Nineteenth Annual Judicial Conference of the District of Columbia, which was held in 1994. The theme for the conference was “Rejuvenating Juvenile Justice – Responses to the Problems of Juvenile Violence in the District of Columbia.” Judge Sullivan was also appointed by Chief Judge Wagner to chair the “Task Force on Families and Violence for the District of Columbia Courts.”
On June 16, 1994, Judge Sullivan was appointed by President William J. Clinton to serve as United States District Judge for the District of Columbia. Upon his appointment as a United States District Judge, Judge Sullivan became the only person in the District of Columbia to have been appointed by three United States Presidents to three judicial positions.
Since his appointment to the federal court, Judge Sullivan has been appointed by four Chief Judges to serve on both the District of Columbia Judicial Disabilities and Tenure Commission and the District of Columbia Judicial Nomination Commission. Judge Sullivan currently serves as Chair of the Judicial Nomination Commission, a position he has held since 2005. The Judicial Nomination Commission recommends candidates to the President of the United States for judicial appointment to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and also appoints the Chief Judges for both courts. As Chair of the Judicial Nomination Commission, Judge Sullivan regularly testifies before the Council of the District of Columbia. From 1998 to 2005, Judge Sullivan served on the United States Judicial Conference Committee on Criminal Law, having been appointed to that position by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. Judge Sullivan chaired that committee’s Legislative Subcommittee and, in that capacity, he testified before Committees of the United States House of Representatives on behalf of the Judicial Conference. In 2012, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., appointed Judge Sullivan to the Judicial Conference Committee on Space and Facilities. Judge Sullivan was re-appointed to that Committee in 2015.
Judge Sullivan also served on the Dean Search Committee for the Howard University School of Law. His service on that committee culminated with the appointment of Kurt Schmoke, by former Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert, to serve as the Dean of the School of Law. Judge Sullivan is a former member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Council for Court Excellence, and is a Founder and current Director of the Frederick B. Abramson Scholarship Foundation. The Abramson Foundation awards annual financial scholarships and provides mentoring to District of Columbia public high school graduates attending four-year colleges and universities. Judge Sullivan is a frequent public speaker and panelist, and is also a regular guest speaker at local public schools, colleges, universities, and judicial conferences.
Judge Sullivan is the recipient of many honors, including the Washington Bar Association’s Ollie May Cooper Award , the Howard University Alumni Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award of Excellence, the Howard University Distinguished Alumni Award awarded by the President and Board of Trustees of Howard University, the American Inns of Court Professionalism Award for the District of Columbia Circuit, the National Bar Association’s Gertrude E. Rush Award, and he was recently inducted into the Washington Bar Association Hall of Fame. He has also been recognized for his achievements by the District of Columbia Public School System, the Judicial Administration Division of the American Bar Association, the District of Columbia Judicial Disabilities and Tenure Commission, and the District of Columbia Bar. Most recently, Judge Sullivan was awarded the Washington Bar Association’s Charles Hamilton Houston Medallion of Merit.
Judge Sullivan has taught as an adjunct professor at the Howard University School of Law and has served as a member of the visiting faculty at Harvard Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop. He is currently an adjunct professor at the American University Washington College of Law. Judge Sullivan is a member of the Washington Bar Association, the District of Columbia Bar, the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, and the Federal Bar Association.
Introduced by: Seth Waxman
Shon Hopwood is an Associate Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center. Shon’s unusual legal journey began not at law school, but federal prison, where he learned to write briefs for other prisoners while serving a 12-year sentence for bank robberies. Two petitions for certiorari he prepared were later granted review by the United States Supreme Court, and he won cases for other prisoners in federal courts across the country. Shon’s story has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, The New Yorker, NPR, and on 60 Minutes.
Shon received a J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law as a Gates Public Service Law Scholar. He clerked for Judge Janice Rogers Brown at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He then served as a Teaching Fellow at the Georgetown University Law Center’s Appellate Litigation Program, where he litigated criminal, immigration, civil rights, and federal statutory cases in federal courts of appeals. In 2016 and 2017, he won cases in the D.C., Fourth, and Eighth Circuits on behalf of indigent litigants.
Shon co-wrote a memoir entitled Law Man: Memoir of a Jailhouse Lawyer, and his scholarship on courts and the criminal justice system has been published in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties, Fordham, Washington, and American Criminal Law Review as well as Georgetown Law Journal’s Annual Review of Criminal Procedure. He serves on the Board of Directors for Families Against Mandatory Minimums and is the co-founder of Prison Professors L.L.C., a company dedicated to teaching prisoners how to transform their lives from the inside. He frequently speaks about the vital need for criminal justice reform.
Benach Collopy, LLP
Introduced by: Denyse Sabagh
Ava Benach is a founding partner of Benach Collopy. For nearly twenty years, Ava has navigated clients through the maze of immigration law. Ava has concentrated her practice on representing clients in removal proceedings and in litigation matters before the federal courts. She also has extensive experience advising clients on the immigration consequences of criminal convictions and complex citizenship and residence questions. Ava was identified as being a “go-to attorney when it comes to representing individuals in complex government cases” and at the “forefront of an emerging generation of litigators” in the immigration field by Chambers International. In June 2017, Ava was awarded the Edith B. Lowenstein Award for Excellence in Advancing the Practice of Immigration Law by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
Ava has represented clients in immigration courts across the country, addressing cutting edge issues in asylum, the immigration consequences of criminal convictions, jurisdiction and due process, and eligibility for relief, such as 212(h) waivers of inadmissibility and cancellation of removal. Ava also brings actions in federal court to challenge unreasonable or delayed government decision-making and to ensure that her clients rights are protected.
As part of the Amicus Committee of AILA, Ava took a lead role in challenging state immigration laws in South Carolina and Alabama. Ava has also served on the national AILA liaison committee to Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), representing the concerns of immigration lawyers among top ICE officials. In the organization’s local chapter, Ava served as Chair of the Litigation Committee and as Pro Bono Coordinator.
In addition, Ava is active in local immigration charities and organizations. Ava has taken a lead role in representing transgender asylum seekers before the asylum office and the immigration courts. She has pioneered an innovative collaboration with Whitman Walker Health to provide quality representation to transgender immigrants while training the next generation of lawyers in representing LGBT immigrants. In May 2017, Whitman Walker Health honored Ava with the Fenner Award for Community Service for her work representing Whitman Walker clients. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition, where she works to protect the rights of immigrants in the detention system. In the Fall of 2011, Ava was a Professorial Lecturer in Law at George Washington University Law School, where she co-taught the immigration clinic.
Prior to forming Benach Collopy, Ava was a partner in the nationwide immigration practice at Duane Morris. She joined Duane Morris after leading the litigation practice at Maggio & Kattar for several years.
Ava is a 1998 cum laude graduate of George Washington University Law School and a graduate of Boston College. She is fluent in Spanish. She is married to Mona Luddy Benach and has three children, Paloma, Alex and Teddy. When not practicing law, she can be found on the baseball diamond with DC Girls Baseball or the Capitol City Little League.
James D. Bishop
Catholic Charities Legal Network, Archdiocese of Washington
Jim Bishop has been the director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington’s Legal Network for more than 20 years. The Catholic Charities Legal Network (CCLN) is a civil law legal services program that addresses issues related to employment, family law, consumer debt and bankruptcy, landlord and tenant law, public entitlements, and will and probate matters. It provides indigent and low-income populations with critical access to high-quality, pro bono legal services. CCLN assisted 4,173 low-income clients and opened 579 new cases last fiscal year.
For more than 30 years, Jim has served as a family mediator in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia’s Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division. He serves on the Board of Governors of The John Carroll Society, as well as the Civic Board of Directors of the Council for Court Excellence. Jim’s many honors include the Jerrold Scoutt Prize from the DC Bar Foundation, The John Carroll Society Medal, The Archdiocese of Washington’s 75th Anniversary Cardinal’s Award, and Catholic Charities’ Griffin Award. Jim graduated from Howard University School of Law, and graduated magna cum laude from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. Jim holds a certificate from the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business for completing the Nonprofit Business Excellence Program for Catholic Leaders. He is a licensed member of the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania bars.