HLS Democrats Visit Washington, D.C.

BY DAN GELDON

A visit to the US Supreme Court.
Trip participants meet with former Deputy Attorney General and 9-11 Commission member Jamie Gorelick.

A group of about 20 students traveled to Washington D.C. from February 15-17 as part of an annual trip organized by the HLS Democrats.

“While in DC, the HLS Democrats aim to meet with elected officials, government lawyers, campaign operatives, and lobbyists,” said David Burd, a Co-President of the organization. “By picking speakers that represent a wide range of career paths at the intersection of law, politics, and policy, we try to showcase ways that HLS alumni can use their law degree to have an impact in government and politics.”

As part of this year’s trip, participants met with: Jamie Gorelick, former Deputy Attorney General and a member of the 9-11 Commission; David Kendall, President Clinton’s personal lawyer from Whitewater through the Lewinsky Scandal; Reps. Bobby Scott, Brad Sherman, and Ed Markey; Senator Paul Sarbanes; Ralph Neas, the President of People for the American Way; Tom McMahon, Executive Director of the DNC; Joe Sandler, General Counsel to the DNC; Anna Martinez, Chair of the National Lawyers Council at the DNC; and Karen Marangi, a lobbyist at Patton Boggs.

The group spoke with Gorelick and Kendall about the inner-workings of the Clinton administration, and discussed ways that lawyers can work for or with the executive branch of government. Gorelick, who worked under Janet Reno at the Justice Department, and Kendall, who worked closely with the White House Counsel’s Office under Clinton, discussed how they obtained their positions and what they learned from their roles.

On Capitol Hill, the group chatted with Scott, Sherman, Markey, and Sarbanes about their work in the U.S. Congress, and how they transitioned from a legal career path to elected office. The four members of Congress also discussed how they think Democrats can win seats in the 2006 midterm elections, and how the party can exert more influence over the national agenda. Marangi provided additional insight by discussing her work as a lobbyist at Patton Boggs, as well as her earlier role as chief counsel for Senator Leahy on the Judiciary Committee.

The agenda also included a visit to Democratic National Headquarters, where McMahon spoke about the DNC’s program for 2006 and long-term strategies for building party infrastructure. Additionally, Sandler discussed many of the contentious issues he works with in the world of election law, and Martinez focused on how students and lawyers can get involved in party politics.

The group also chatted with Neas about how his efforts to block the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court on behalf of People for the American Way compared to his earlier work to block the nomination of Robert Bork as Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

“The trip displayed the many ways that lawyers can get involved in government and the variety of paths available after law school,” said trip participant and 1L rep Laura Seaton.

In addition to meetings, the Democrats also arranged a tour of the Supreme Court through a law clerk for Justice Breyer. As part of the tour, the group visited the library of the Supreme Court, the chambers of a few justices, and the upstairs basketball court, commonly referred to as the “highest court in the land.”

The organization also arranged a number of social events at well-known Washington establishments, ranging from lunches at the Hawk n’ Dove and National Democratic Club to drinks at the Brickskeller bar.

“The trip was a great way to bond with other members of the club in an informal setting, while also learning about potential career paths from several very accomplished individuals,” said 1L James Katz.

As part of last year’s annual trip, participants met with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Senator Sarbanes, and Congressman Harold Ford, Jr.

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