Moses has been with Law Students in Court since 2005, when he started supervising in the criminal defense clinic. Before joining us, he was a Prettyman/Stiller Fellow with Georgetown University School of Law. He is a passionate teacher, social justice advocate, and defender of the underdog. In addition to serving on the Board of Governors of the DC Bar, each summer Moses teaches Public Interest Lawyering at George Washington School of Law as an adjunct professor.
Moses received his Juris Doctor from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. While in St. Louis, he worked at the Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of Missouri and volunteered for the St. Louis County public defender’s office. He spent a semester as a clinic student with the AIDS Project at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and organized an AIDS march during his final semester of law school. He served as an Executive Notes & Topics editor for the Washington University Law Quarterly and was a member of the Criminal Law Society. Prior to law school, Moses decided to follow in the footsteps of Phil Jackson and Chuck Klosterman and enrolled at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, where he received his Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude.
Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, Moses enjoys returning each ski season for the “greatest snow on earth.” He wishes he had more time to learn a new instrument, listen to live music, travel the globe, and keep his son and daughter from growing up too fast.
He became LSIC’s Executive Director in December 2013.
202.638.4798, ext. 204
David Simmons is the Chief Operating Officer at Law Students in Court. He joined the organization in July of 2018. In his capacity, he is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization and the planning and measurement of the organization's objectives.
Prior to LSIC, he worked at Equal Justice Works for 13 years in various capacities as the Director of Fellowships and Advancement, COO and Vice President of Development. He has held positions at various non-profits in DC for 25 years and brings a wealth of experiences to LSIC.
David is originally from Iowa, where he attended Briar Cliff University to earn a BA in History, and now serves on the Board of Trustees there.
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
202.638.4798, ext. 507
Celina Aldape is a Staff Attorney at Law Students in Court. She represents tenants in rent-controlled buildings who are at risk of eviction and focuses on rent control as a means of preserving affordable housing in DC through education, legal assistance, and legislative reform. She joined LSIC after graduating from Yale Law School in 2017. During her time in law school, Celina participated in the Landlord & Tenant Legal Services Clinic and the Criminal Justice Clinic and was a summer clerk with the National Juvenile Defender Center and the Public Defender Service of DC.
Celina grew up in Houston, Texas. She attended Columbia University, where she received a B.A. in Sociology and Neuroscience and was involved in advocacy for indigent criminal and juvenile defendants in New York.
202.638.4798, ext. 501
Syed Kamil Ali is the Development and Communications Associate at D.C. Law Students in Court. He helps to ensure that the organization raises funds and develops its brand efficiently by making sure that the development and communication programs operate smoothly and efficiently. Among his many responsibilities, he also manages LSIC’s databases to ensure correct reporting and to develop actionable insights.
Kamil has a B.A. in Government and International Politics, and minors in Legal Studies, International Security, and Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University. Prior to coming to LSIC, He worked as an immigration law assistant at Berry Appleman & Leiden. He also interned at Transparency International-USA where he was in charge of the organization’s website and daily newsletter. For fun, he likes to read fantasy books and play strategy games. Ultimately, Kamil wants to go to law school and practice law.
COMMUNICATIONS & DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATE
202.638.4798, ext. 208
David Blum is a Senior Staff Attorney with the Civil Division. He joined Law Students in Court (LSIC) as a Legal Fellow following his graduation from George Washington University Law School in 2015. In addition to completing a successful semester as a student attorney with the Civil Division of LSIC, during his time in law school, David interned with the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, and the Office of the Public Defender for Arlington County & the City of Falls Church.
Originally from Austin, Texas, but having lived all over the country (including Texas, Nebraska, Louisiana, and Illinois), David graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012 with a Bachelor’s in History. During his undergrad years, he worked as a telemarketer and an intramural sports official. David’s interests include history, civil rights, sports, and trivia. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife Katie, an elementary school teacher.
SENIOR STAFF ATTORNEY
202.638.4798, ext. 201
Jade Chong-Smith is a Staff Attorney at Law Students in Court. She represents clients in juvenile and adult cases in DC Superior Court and also supervises law school students representing clients in misdemeanor cases. Before beginning full-time at LSIC, Jade spent a year as a legal fellow at Law Students in Court and the Center for Children's Law and Policy working on a juvenile justice project.
Jade graduated from Yale Law School. At Yale, she devoted her time to indigent criminal defense work and criminal justice reform. She represented adults in misdemeanor cases, worked on a criminal appeal, assisted in death penalty litigation, and helped write amicus briefs in ineffective assistance of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct cases. Before coming to Yale, she worked for the Canadian federal government and as a legal literacy consultant in Tamil Nadu, India, for the Commonwealth of learning.
Jade is originally from Ottawa, Canada. She received a B.A. & Sc. in Environment from McGill University.
202.638.4798, ext. 503
Dan Clark is the Co-Director of the Eviction Defense Services (EDS) of LSIC. As Co-Director of EDS, Dan manages a staff of three supervising attorneys, two staff attorneys, and two post-graduate fellows. Together, they supervise 25 clinic students from area law schools representing low-income clients in housing and consumer-related matters in the courts of the District of Columbia.
Before becoming Co-Director, Dan was a supervising attorney with the program. Dan earned his LL.M. in clinical teaching and systems change while serving as an instructor in the Housing and Consumer Law Clinic at the David A. Clarke School of Law, University of the District of Columbia. Before joining the Housing Clinic, Dan was the Managing Attorney for Housing and Consumer Law at the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program. As Managing Attorney with the Pro Bono Program, Dan oversaw operations of the Landlord Tenant Resource Center and Bankruptcy Clinic while supporting the Advice & Referral Clinic, Advocacy & Justice Clinic, and other programs. He attended law school at American University, Washington College of Law and was awarded a J.D. in 1995. In 1990, he graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida.
CO-DIRECTOR OF EVICTION DEFENSE SERVICES
202.638.4798, ext. 210
Katrina Cohen is a Staff Attorney at Law Students in Court. She represents low-income tenants who are at risk of eviction. Katrina joined LSIC after a Skadden fellowship at Philadelphia Legal Assistance. During her fellowship, she focused on economic justice, and represented clients in consumer defense and affirmative consumer rights cases.
Katrina graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 2015. While at Penn Law, she served as the Co-Executive Articles Editor of the Journal of Law and Social Change. She also completed a semester as a student attorney in the Civil Practice Clinic, where she represented clients in a range of legal matters, including housing conditions, unemployment compensation, and real estate tax foreclosure. Katrina interned at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia and The Legal Aid Society in Manhattan. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
202.638.4798, ext. 105
Melinda Cooperman is a Supervising Attorney in the Civil Division of Law Students in Court. Prior to joining LSIC, Melinda represented children in abuse and neglect cases in D.C. Superior Court as a Staff Attorney with D.C.'s Children's Law Center. Melinda was also a Clinical Teaching Fellow in Georgetown University Law Center's Street Law Clinic, and the Associate Director of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project at American University Washington College of Law.
Melinda is a proud graduate of the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law, where she was a Haywood Burns Fellow in Civil and Human Rights. She received her B.A. in Political Communication from The George Washington University. Before attending law school, Melinda directed a youth and family education program at a transitional homeless shelter in San Francisco, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural El Salvador, and worked as a pension benefits counselor and advocate at Legal Services of New York.
Outside of the office, Melinda is actively involved with Washington, D.C.'s pro bono legal community. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Washington Council of Lawyers and Gifts for the Homeless. She also loves to hike in the mountains, go on urban trekking adventures around the city, and food related travel excursions. Melinda was raised in New York City, Hawaii, and Eastern Long Island, and loves all things related to the ocean.
202.638.4798, ext. 100
JESSICA DE STEFANO
Jessica DeStefano is a Supervising Attorney in the Civil Division. Prior to joining LSIC, she worked as a Staff Attorney in the Housing Rights Project at Legal Services NYC, where she defended low-income tenants in eviction proceedings. She was also a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Rockland County. Jessica is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, where she focused on public interest law. During law school, Jessica clerked for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, The Trevor Project, and Whitman-Walker Health. She also holds degrees from American University (B.A.) and Shepherd University (M.A.). In her spare time, Jessica volunteers for several LGBTQ rights organizations, including Boston Pride for which she manages social media and co-edits the annual magazine.
202.638.4798, ext. 108
PAUL DI BLASI
Paul Di Blasi is the Director of Clinical Education and a Supervising Attorney in the Civil Division of Law Students in Court. He also volunteers as a member of the Legal Committee of the DC Language Access Coalition and as a volunteer attorney at the Employment Justice Center’s clinics. Before coming to LSIC, he represented low-income tenants as a Staff Attorney at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. He moved to the District from the Rio Grande Valley in Southmost Texas, where he represented low-income tenants, consumers, and workers as a Staff Attorney at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.
Paul graduated with honors from the University of Texas in Austin School of Law. At the University of Texas, he was an Articles Editor for the Texas Journal on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights, and also participated in numerous clinics. Paul also organized the University’s first “Pro Bono in January” trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In his summers during law school, Paul clerked at the Public Justice Center in Baltimore and at the Texas Civil Rights Project in the RioGrande Valley.
Paul graduated from Williams College, where he played trombone in the jazz band and the student symphony. Between college and law school, Paul worked probably too many jobs, including voter registration projects and teaching monolingual Spanish speakers GED math. After a nomadic early childhood, Paul grew up in San Antonio, Texas, which he thinks you should really visit sometime when you have the chance.
DIRECTOR OF CLINICAL EDUCATION & SUPERVISING ATTORNEY
202.638.4798, ext. 209
As a D.C. Law Students in Court Law Clerk, Ruth El where she works to assist low-income tenants who are at risk of eviction. She is a recent graduate of the American University Washington College of Law, where she served as a student attorney for the Community and Economic Development Law Clinic, President of the Juvenile Justice Society. She has also held a long-term internship at the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty during her law school career.
She holds a B.A. from the University of Miami, where she double-majored in Business Management & Administration, and Legal Studies. In her spare time, Ruth enjoys spending time with family and friends.
202.638.4798, ext. 103
Jenifer Foster rejoined the civil division as a Supervising Attorney in January 2018. Jen had worked at LSIC from 2007 – 2012, as “Attorney of the Day”, helping low-income tenants in danger of eviction. She left LSIC to clerk for the Honorable Stephanie Duncan-Peters. Jen has worked at several area legal services agencies, including Our Place DC, University Legal Services and the Legal Aid Society. She is passionate about working with D.C. residents who are struggling and helping give individuals who are frequently overlooked, a voice.
Jen is starting the social work division of LSIC. She loves the interplay of law and social work and thinks that when the two converge, dynamic things can be accomplished. Prior to rejoining LSIC, she worked as Senior Director of the Addiction Continuum at So Others Might Eat. She has a private practice on the side and provides counseling services primarily to veterans and others struggling with trauma and abuse. Previously, Jen has worked at the Veterans Administration Medical Center as a social worker in the emergency room, at a crisis stabilization program for individuals in psychiatric crisis, and as an addiction counselor at a treatment program. She was an Adjunct Professor at Bowie State University for five years where she taught Social Work and the Law.
Jen graduated from the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law and the National Catholic School of Social Services with her JD and MSW in 2005. She has her undergraduate degree from Roanoke College, where she majored in sociology, minored in American history and had a concentration in social work. Right after undergrad, she spent a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corp, where she taught sexual abuse prevention classes.
In her spare time, Jen loves to travel and find adventures. She has bathed tigers, ridden elephants, swam with whale sharks, done a triathlon, hiked to Machu Picchu, swung on a trapeze, and ran a half marathon. Her dream is to travel the world and then become a diving instructor in the Caribbean.
DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL WORK & SUPERVISING ATTORNEY
202.638.4798, ext. 502
Ariana Gibbs joined Law Students in Court after practicing as a civil defense attorney at Gibbs Travis PLLC, a Black owned litigation firm located in Jackson, Mississippi. Ariana’s litigation focused on a range of matters including employment discrimination, corporate contracts, and appeals. She also previously worked as a law clerk for the DC Office of Police Complaints, as an intern at the Southern Poverty Law Center, and as a law clerk for the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.
Ariana received her JD from the University of Mississippi School of Law in May 2016. While in law school, she served as a student attorney in the MacArthur Justice Clinic where she worked to eliminate debtor’s prisons in the state of Mississippi and advocated for prisoners’ rights. Ariana also served as a Senior Editor for the Southern Journal for Policy and Justice, and as a member of the Moot Court Board, where she was selected as the Champion of the Daniel, Coker, Horton and Bell Moot Court Competition. Prior to law school, Ariana graduated with honors from Spelman College where she received her B.A. in English.
In her spare time, Ariana enjoys reading, traveling, attending concerts and spending time with her amazing family and friends.
202.638.4798, ext. 104
Sterling Howard is the Development Director at Law Students in Court, where she leads fundraising strategy.
Previously, Ms. Howard spent more than six years at Equal Justice Works in the Fellowship Program, where her portfolio of work was a unique mix of program management, sponsor relations, and fundraising. Her day to day included everything from leading the program's fundraising strategies, finding, building and maintaining relationships with sponsors that fund the projects, helping current Fellows actively engage their sponsor through pro bono opportunities, and building out programmatic initiatives such as increasing Fellowship salaries.
While enrolled at Georgetown University Law Center, Howard served for three years as a student organizer of Home Court, an annual charity basketball game between Members of Congress and members of the law school faculty benefiting the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. She now serves as Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.
Prior to Georgetown, Howard was a personal assistant to a family running its own charitable foundation. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Art History from Southern Methodist University in her native Dallas, TX, where she received a full-merit scholarship entitled the President's Scholar Award.
202.638.4798, ext. 506
Hope Kwiatkowski is a Staff Attorney at Law Students in Court. She represents low-income tenants who are at risk of eviction. She joined LSIC after a fellowship with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in the Economic Justice Project. During her fellowship, she worked on policy reform and impact litigation focused on combating systemic discrimination, particularly in the areas of employment and reentry, and she co-published a report criticizing the use of race/ethnicity and gender in the calculation of civil damage awards.
Hope graduated from UC Davis School of Law in May 2017. At UC Davis, she was involved with the Civil Rights Clinic, where she worked to enforce a Consent Decree at a local jail and advocated in the Ninth Circuit for the rights of detained immigrants. She has also interned with the ACLU Center for Advocacy and Policy, the Center for Justice and Accountability, and Accountability Counsel.
In her spare time, Hope enjoys climbing rocks, practicing yoga, and spending time with friends and family.
202.638.4798, ext. 102
Kathryn Lash is an eviction defense attorney with Law Students in Court’s Civil Division. She has spent her career advocating for individuals in marginalized communities using impact litigation, community lawyering, policy advocacy, and direct legal services.
Prior to joining LSIC, Kathryn worked at an all women owned civil rights law firm in Denver, Colorado and as a legal fellow at AARP Foundation Litigation in Washington, D.C. She has also previously worked as a fellow and intern at a number of civil rights and racial justice organizations including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Advancement Project, the New York Legal Aid Society, and the ACLU of Colorado.
Kathryn received her JD from the University of New Mexico School of Law. In law school, she served as a student attorney in the Southwest Indian Law Clinic, as a Programming Assistant for the National Black Law Students Association, and as the Vice President of Community Outreach for the New Mexico Women’s Law Caucus. Prior to law school, Kathryn received her B.S. in Journalism and a certificate in Multicultural Leadership Studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Originally from New Mexico and Colorado, Kathryn enjoys outdoor activities, travel, live music, and spending time with her amazing family and inspirational friends. She is thrilled to join an organization with a history as rich as LSIC’s and looks forward to furthering her commitment to making the world a safer and more just place.
202.638.4798, ext. 106
Adrian Madsen is a Supervising Attorney in the Criminal Division at Law Students in Court. He joins LSIC after graduating summa cum laude from the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law in January. In 2015, he served as a student attorney in our Criminal Division, where he received the Earl H. Davis Award from the Olender Foundation for his zealous representation of our clients. While in law school, Adrian worked as a law clerk in three divisions of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and also served as Associate Editor of the UDC-DCSL Law Review. Adrian has a long history of working for social justice in the District, including his role as Secretary to Empower DC's Board of Governors since 2007. He is thrilled to further his commitment to indigent defense at LSIC.
202.638.4798, ext. 215
Lucy Newton is the Co-Director of the Eviction Defense Services (EDS) of LSIC. Over the course of her career, Lucy has represented low-income clients in a wide range of housing, public benefits, consumer law and family law matters, including at the Legal Aid Society of D.C., the Neighborhood Legal Services Program of D.C., and the Georgia Legal Services Program. She has also been a legal fellow at the National Women's Law Center and has advised students in the Office of Career Services at Howard University School of Law. Lucy was a member of the steering committee of the Litigation Section of the D.C. Bar from 2009 to 2015, and she currently serves on the board of directors of a D.C. public charter school.
Lucy graduated from New York University School of Law in 2002, where she was a student in the civil rights clinic, and received her B.A., with a major in music, from Emory University in 1996. Before law school, Lucy worked backstage at an opera company. She lives in the District with her husband and two daughters, and she spends a lot of her spare time singing.
CO-DIRECTOR OF EVICTION DEFENSE SERVICES
202.638.4798, ext. 214
Justin A. Okezie received his Bachelor’s Degree with High Honors in History/Political Science from Rutgers University in 1996 and his J.D. with Honors from Duke University Law School in 1999. During his second and third years at Duke, Justin was a teaching assistant for a first-year legal research and writing class, was the President of the Criminal Law Society, and volunteered with the Orange County Public Defender’s Office.
After graduating from law school, Justin was an associate at Covington & Burling in the District of Columbia and then at Brown, Goldstein & Levy, a boutique litigation firm in Baltimore, Maryland with a strong commitment to social justice matters such as representing people charged with crimes and advocating for access to facilities and services for the blind and other people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Justin has been a member of the D.C. Superior Court’s Criminal Justice Act Panel since 2008. Since 2008, Justin has focused his practice on defending clients charged with crimes in the District of Columbia but also defends clients in federal court. Justin is fluent in Spanish and often represents Spanish-speaking clients in criminal matters. Justin has defended clients charged with a variety of crimes, ranging from simple assault, theft, and drug possession to murder, sexual offenses, and kidnapping. Justin has been lead defense counsel in over 100 criminal trials and has represented well over 1,000 clients facing criminal charges.
Justin is proud to dedicate his professional career to represent people who the government has accused of crimes, especially persons of limited financial means. He is very excited to be part of D.C. Law Students in Court, where he started as a supervisor in the Criminal Division in August 2018.
202.638.4798, ext. 107
Peter Posada is a Staff Attorney with the Civil Division of Law Students in Court. He joined LSIC after graduating from Yale Law School in 2017. During his time in law school, Peter participated in the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic and the Rule of Law Clinic. He also served as a summer clerk with the Detroit Mayor’s Office, the Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, and the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
Peter grew up in Orlando, Florida. He attended the University of Florida, where he received a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish and a B.S. in Economics.
202.638.4798, ext. 504
Tegan Peterson serves as the Office Manager and Intern Supervisor at Law Students in Court. She is responsible for business operations, student outreach, human resources, internship coordination, and paralegal support.
Tegan grew up in Wyoming and recently moved to the D.C. area. Tegan received her B.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Wyoming. Prior to joining our team, Tegan interned and worked for the Wyoming Department of Corrections. In her spare time, she enjoys staying active, cooking, exploring the area with her amazing little boy, and spending time with family and friends. She is excited to be part of the LSIC team and passionate about the mission and vision of the organization.
202.638.4798, ext. 206
Emily Reid is a Legal Fellow at Law Students in Court. She represents clients in expungement and immigration cases, and also facilitates pro bono legal trainings for attorneys.
Emily received her J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2018 and her B.A., magna cum laude, in Political Science, Women's Studies, and International Studies from Saint Louis University in 2011. During law school, Emily worked as a Research Assistant for a law professor where she edited, cite-checked, and compiled literature reviews for articles and book chapters on the topics of tax policy, foreign affairs, sociology, and anthropology. She was a Student Attorney for the Vanderbilt Immigration Clinic and Advanced Clinic, where she represented clients in immigration court and affirmative asylum proceedings. In addition, Emily participated in the Honor Council, Moot Court, and was the Director of the Vanderbilt Street Law Program where she led fellow law students in giving “Know Your Rights” lessons on a variety of legal topics at Nashville schools and homeless shelters. During her law school summers, she interned at the Orleans Public Defenders in New Orleans and at the Legal Aid Society of New York City in their Housing Unit.
Before law school, Emily advocated for healthcare access with non-profit organizations, worked in a congressman’s office on Capitol Hill, and was a research associate for a Washington, D.C. publication that covers trade associations, professional societies, and lobbying news.
202.638.4798, ext. 112
KEESHEA TURNER ROBERTS
Keeshea Turner Roberts is the Co-Director of the Civil Protection Order Project (CPOP) and a Supervising Attorney in our Civil Division. Prior to joining LSIC, Keeshea was a managing attorney at Neighborhood Legal Services Program (NLSP). At NLSP, she supervised staff attorneys, legal fellows, legal externs and interns, and on-loan law firm associates in the family law and public benefits practices. In addition to supervising and teaching law students, Ms. Turner Roberts manages and supervises pro bono and staff attorneys at the Civil Protection Order Project at D.C. Superior Court.
Keeshea is a member of the D.C. Bar’s John Payton Leadership Academy Class of 2017. The John Payton Leadership Academy is an intensive training program for members who are interested in developing their leadership skills and learning more about the D.C. Bar and its leadership opportunities. The goal of the Leadership Academy is to identify, inspire, and educate D.C. Bar members to be leaders of the Bar and to encourage them to use their leadership skills in professional settings, local bar associations, and community organizations.
Keeshea received her J.D. from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and her B.A. in History from Hollins University (formerly Hollins College). While in law school, she interned at numerous legal organizations including the United States Department of Justice (Violence Against Women Office), ACLU for the National Capitol Area, and the Alexandria and Fairfax Virginia Public Defender Offices. During her third year of law school, Keeshea was a student-attorney at LSIC, where she represented clients with misdemeanor cases. After graduating from law school, she served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorables Janet Albert, Andrea L. Harnett, and Richard Ringell, Magistrate Judges for the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.
202.638.4798, ext. 574
Abigail Scott is the Co-Director of the Civil Protection Order Project (CPOP) in the Civil Division of Law Students in Court. Prior to joining LSIC, Abigail was an associate for four years practicing criminal defense with the Law Offices of Steven D. Kupferberg. While there, Abigail represented clients in Maryland and the District of Columbia facing misdemeanor and felony criminal charges, serious traffic matters, and Protective Order hearings. During the year prior, Abigail was a Judicial Law Clerk in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland.
Abigail received her JD from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and her B.A. in Psychology from Boston College. Abigail was a student in the LSIC Criminal Division during her 3L year. While pursuing her law degree, Abigail's internships included: the ACLU of Maryland, a boutique criminal defense firm in Fairfax, VA, the PG County, MD Office of the Public Defender; and Abigail was a staff member of The Catholic University Law Review. During law school, Abigail also provided pro bono assistance at the New Orleans Public Defenders Office, through a yearly volunteer trip.
Abigail is dedicated to supporting LSIC's mission of ensuring "equal justice under law" through the representation of low-income respondents in Civil Protection Order matters.
CO-DIRECTOR OF THE CIVIL PROTECTION ORDER PROJECT
202.638.4798, ext 568
Santha Sonenberg is the Director of the Criminal Division of LSIC. For more than 30 years Santha was a public defender representing indigent clients in the local and federal courts in D.C. at the trial and appellate levels, handling serious felonies, many of them homicides. Fluent in Spanish, Santha has represented many Spanish-speaking clients throughout her career. She also has extensive experience with mental health issues and has litigated many contested competency issues, often for years. Santha began working as a staff attorney at the Public Defender Service (“PDS”) in October of 1983, and spent most of the 1990’s as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Columbia. In 1998, she returned to the Public Defender Service where she was one of two attorneys who devised PDS’ Juvenile Unit and where, for several years, she also was Chief of the Trial Division.
Santha has been involved in various impact litigation cases in the local and federal courts. Those included a class-action challenging the conditions of confinement in the District of Columbia’s juvenile correctional institutions, a challenge to the underrepresentation of Hispanics in the jury pool in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and a challenge to the Metropolitan Police Department’s interdiction efforts at the train station and bus depot in the District of Columbia alleging racial discrimination in the individuals the police elected to stop. Santha also has done considerable research on the issue of the wholesale non-discretionary and judicially unreviewable prosecution of juveniles as adults by “direct-filing” adult charges against them without an opportunity for a “reverse waiver” or “reverse transfer” hearing before a judicial officer and she developed significant pleadings and litigated that issue in both D.C. Superior Court and in federal court.
At conferences and training sessions, including the United States Department of Justice’s 2010, Indigent Defense Symposium, Santha has presented on various topics, the majority of them relating to sentencing and youth charged as adults. Finally, she has supervised numerous lawyers in adult jury trials, and in transfer proceedings in juvenile court. Her teaching experience includes training lawyers and law school students since the late 1980's, including having been a Visiting Associate Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center in the Prettyman Graduate Program and the Criminal Justice Clinic in 2001. Santha graduated from Wesleyan University and Georgetown University Law Center.
DIRECTOR OF CRIMINAL DIVISION
202.638.4798, ext. 535
Gwen is the Director of Pro Bono. She is an alumna of DC Law Students In Court. She graduated from the George Washington University Law School in 1998 and graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1994.
Gwen served the people of the District of Columbia at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (“PDS”) for over eighteen years as a trial attorney, a civil legal services attorney, an immigrant defense specialist, a parole attorney and as a mental health attorney. Her experiences in PDS allowed her to develop a wide breadth of experience in criminal and civil matters. As a trial attorney, Gwen represented indigent clients in all aspects of criminal prosecution in major felony and serious misdemeanor cases pending in D.C. Superior Court. As a civil legal services attorney, Gwen represented indigent clients in all aspects of civil litigation resulting from criminal prosecutions, including asset/civil forfeiture, eviction defense, termination of employment matters, child custody and support matters, and civil protection order cases. She is a member of the DC Superior Court Asset Forfeiture Committee. She assisted in the drafting and passage of asset forfeiture legislation before the DC Council. She served as a stakeholder in the development and implementation of the District of Columbia Housing Authority’s administrative plan regarding policies and procedures for housing entitlements.
As an immigrant defense attorney, Gwen provided case-by-case consultations to members of the Bar regarding immigrant defense issues arising in the representation of non-citizens in criminal prosecutions. Gwen has given immigrant defense trainings hosted by the American Bar Association, the District of Columbia Bar Continuing Legal Education Program, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, the D.C. Public Defender Service, law schools in the District of Columbia and numerous voluntary bar associations for members of the Bar and the Judiciary immigrant defense issues. Gwen served as a stakeholder for immigrant defense issues in the District of Columbia regarding policies, procedures, and statutes governing multiple law enforcement agencies and detention facilities, including the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Metropolitan Police Department, other federal law enforcement agencies and the D.C. Department of Corrections regarding the detention and deportation of non-citizens involved the criminal justice system.
Gwen represented clients facing revocation of parole or supervised release before the United States Parole Commission, successfully challenging revocation hearings, successfully challenged technical charges and criminal charges alleged by local and federal law enforcement agencies in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. During her tenure as a parole attorney, Gwen was instrumental in re-establishing pro bono bar of attorneys from various law firms to represent persons facing revocation of their release before the United States Parole Commission. Gwen supervised law student attorneys as they represented clients in revocation proceedings during her tenure as a parole attorney.
Gwen has been a member of the Washington Council of Lawyers Board of Directors since 201. In that capacity, she served as the Mock Trial Chair since that time organizing the DC Superior Court Youth Law Fair in collaboration with other bar-related organizations in the District of Columbia. In her tenure as Mock Trial Chair, Gwen was co-awarded the D.C. Bar’s Frederick B. Abramson Award for participation in 16 the Annual Youth Law Fair.
In 2011, Gwen was appointed by D.C. Bar Board of Governors to serve on the DC Bar Pro Bono Committee for two terms. She is serving in a temporary capacity as a managing attorney at the DC Bar Pro Bono Center’s Landlord and Tenant Resource Center.
Gwen has served as PTA President for two terms in two District of Columbia public schools and has served two terms as a parent representative to the District of Columbia Public Schools’ Local School Advisory Team. Gwen is a founding member of the Ward 4 Education Alliance. Ms. Washington was recently co-awarded the Shepherd Park Citizen’s Association’s Community Service Award for 2018. She also serves as a Den leader for Cub Scouts of America Pack 24 and a Committee member for Troop 24.
Of all of her achievements, Gwen is most proud of her role as a wife and as a mother of two children.
DIRECTOR OF PRO BONO
202.638.4798, ext. 111
Pamela Yee is a Supervising Attorney in the Criminal Division, specializing in immigration and the immigration consequence of criminal convictions. She has spent her career advocating for the rights of vulnerable populations before state family and criminal courts, immigration courts, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Prior to joining DCLSIC, Pamela was in private practice representing clients before the Arlington Immigration court, Baltimore Immigration court, Washington Asylum office, and both the Baltimore and Washington USCIS offices. She has also previously worked at the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition, first as a staff attorney for the Virginia Adult Detainee Program, and later as the supervising attorney for the Maryland Adult Detainee Program. At CAIR, Pamela supervised the Credible and Reasonable Fear Pro Bono program, spearheaded and managed their Social Work program, as well as conducted Know Your Rights presentations for persons detained by ICE. Pamela has given numerous trainings and presentations at area law schools, law firms, and the DC Bar’s Pro Bono program regarding immigration detention and removal. Prior to immigration, Pamela worked as a criminal defense attorney and has experience representing indigent criminal defendants and juvenile respondents.
A Washington D.C. native, Pamela obtained her J.D. from the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America, and her B.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland. She is an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, a member of the DC/MD/VA Regional Criminal-Immigration Collaborative, an Executive Producer for Capital Pride, and a founding member of the DC Chapter of Gay for Good. Pamela is admitted to practice law in Maryland and the District of Columbia and speaks both Chinese and Spanish.
202.638.4798, ext. 218
David Yellin is a Senior Staff Attorney in LSIC's Eviction Defense Service. David is a 2011 alumnus of LSIC, having served as a student attorney in the Civil Division. David joined LSIC from Ifrah Law, a litigation boutique where his practice focused on a range of federal civil and criminal litigation and arbitration, as well as pro bono work with the Dulles Justice Coalition and other organizations. As an associate at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, in New York, David was given the firm's pro bono award for his work with organizations including the New York Office of the Public Defender, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Project Vote, and the Innocence Project. He also has co-taught evidence at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.
David received his JD, magna cum laude, from the Georgetown University Law Center, a master's degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and his bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, from Colgate University. From 2013 to 2015, David clerked for the Honorable Paul W. Grimm in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
David is originally from Long Island, New York, but now lives in the District with his wife and son.
SENIOR STAFF ATTORNEY
202.638.4798, ext. 427