Inside NACDL: Students Help NACDL Fulfill Its Mission

Inside NACDL Jon Umarov June 2011 7-8 Note from the Publisher: NACDL is fortunate to attract the interest of outstanding undergraduates and law students with a passion for criminal justice. To introduce this year’s interns and minority fellows, I am pleased to present a guest author, Jon Umarov.

Access to The Champion archive is one of many exclusive member benefits. It’s normally restricted to just NACDL members. However, this content, and others like it, is available to everyone in order to educate the public on why criminal justice reform is a necessity.

Note from the Publisher: NACDL is fortunate to attract the interest of outstanding undergraduates and law students with a passion for criminal justice. To introduce this year’s interns and minority fellows, I am pleased to present a guest author, Jon Umarov. Jon has served as a Legal Fellow at NACDL since 2009, providing research support on a wide range of policy issues including federal discovery reform and myriad issues related to domestic and international criminal law. Recently he served as contract counsel at Amsterdam & Peroff LLP, assisting on a complex multijurisdictional arbitration case involving a Eurasian country. Currently he is back at NACDL where he will use his vast policy background to assist in migrating massive resource content to a newly designed NACDL website. Jon graduated in 2007 from Indiana University School of Law in Bloomington, Indiana.
— Norman L. Reimer 

Students Help NACDL Fulfill Its Mission

This summer, as in previous years, NACDL is fortunate to have a cadre of talented undergraduates and law school students working to advance NACDL’s programs and policies. Under the leadership of staff members Vanessa Antoun, Tiffany Joslyn, and Malia Brink, NACDL recruited seven outstanding students drawn to the Association’s mission. 

NACDL’s Minority Law Fellows Program is in its second year. The program allows talented law students to spend eight weeks working and actively interning under the supervision of experienced criminal defense attorneys. Funded through a grant from the Foundation for Criminal Justice, the program provides the fellows with a modest stipend. It operates under the aegis of NACDL’s Diversity Task Force, chaired by NACDL Board member Maria H. Sandoval. The purpose of the program is to increase diversity in the criminal defense bar by giving underrepresented populations an opportunity to gain experience in criminal defense. As a disproportionate number of criminal defendants come from minority communities, it is imperative that criminal defense attorneys move the criminal justice system toward a better understanding of the language, culture, customs, and economic conditions corresponding to their clients. The Diversity Task Force hopes that, by attracting more diverse members to the criminal defense bar, NACDL will help increase the likelihood that clients’ racial, ethnic, and personally diverse histories will be more accurately explained and presented to prosecutors, juries, and judges.
This year the two Minority Law Fellows are working in New York — one at Neighborhood Defender Services of Harlem under the supervision of Rick Jones and the other at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias, & Engelhard, P.C., under the supervision of Susan J. Walsh. NACDL has also continued its tradition of offering summer internships to undergraduates and law students with an interest in pursuing a career in criminal justice. This year, NACDL is pleased to host five interns at its headquarters in the nation’s capital. 

It is my great pleasure to introduce the 2011 NACDL Fellows and Interns. 

Christopher Holland, Minority Law Fellow, is a 2L at Fordham University School of Law. Prior to commencing his legal career, Christopher spent extensive time in the medical and biological science fields. He conducted lab research in biological engineering and chemical biology. The experience that he attained from his scientific background has fortified problem-solving skills that he believes will be applicable in the legal profession. NACDL’s mission to ensure justice and due process to those accused of a crime is an objective Christopher fully supports. Christopher is serving his fellowship with Susan Walsh. 

Travis Long, Minority Law Fellow, is a 2L at Fordham University School of Law, where he is a Merit Scholarship Recipient. He received his B.A. from Yale University, where he served as a chief mediator between Yale and the National Branch of NAACP. Travis served as a summer intern at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, reviewing and organizing legal documents for pending litigation. Travis also interned at the Royal Bank of Canada, where he reviewed transactions in RBC’s credit risk management department and used the bank’s criteria as well as his own judgment to rank their risk levels. He hopes to gain a valuable firsthand experience through NACDL’s fellowship program so that he can reach his goal of becoming an excellent criminal defense attorney. Explaining his dedication to the criminal defense function, Travis said, “As the son of a corrections officer who told me countless stories of the injustices that are rampant in the criminal justice system, and as a close friend of someone who was wrongly arrested and convicted, I know that not all people receive the justice they deserve. I feel obligated to address that issue for the rest of my life.” Travis is serving his fellowship with Rick Jones. 

Melissa Weeden is a 2L at George Washington University School of Law. Melissa developed her interest in criminal law while attending American University. While at American, Melissa studied the justice system and its relationship to society. Her classes, which included Philosophical Problems in the Law and Ethnicity, Crime and Immigration, addressed fairness in the judicial system. As part of her graduation requirements, she authored a paper entitled An Ideal Criminal Justice System in which she discussed the limitations of the right against self-incrimination in Miranda v. Arizona and how those limitations could be improved through an examination of precedent and a comparison to other legal systems. Melissa is eager to gain practical experience and to begin using her legal education to work in the area of criminal law. Melissa is working for NACDL’s National Security Coordinator, Michael Price. She is “very interested” in the role of the government and its intrusion into privacy. “I am excited to be able to research and learn more about these topics this summer,” she said. 

Mary Grace Miller is a 2L at the University of Richmond School of Law. During her experience as an AmeriCorps volunteer last year, Mary Grace followed her passion for public service while developing effective writing and communication skills. Prior to graduating from Dickinson College in 2009, Mary Grace served as an intern in Edison International’s Government Affairs Office. She attended congressional hearings and generated concise summaries for the office’s lobbyists. Mary Grace believes that her clerkship with NACDL will be an exceptional opportunity to further her interest in public policy, government, and the law. She is working for NADCL’s Resource Counsel, Vanessa Antoun, and White Collar Counsel, Tiffany Joslyn. Mary Grace said, “I chose to intern at NACDL because I believe that as an intern I will be contributing to an organization with an important mission, while gaining invaluable skills for my future career.” 

Continue reading below

Ryan Dull is attending Georgetown College. Ryan was drawn to the opportunity at NACDL to both work in media relations and learn more about criminal defense law. In both his Government and Philosophy majors at Georgetown, he has frequently researched and discussed the various ethical and practical issues at play in U.S. judicial policy. Ryan worked for the GE Capital Markets Team, where he gained experience researching legislation and its practical impact and synthesizing the results into more directly and efficiently communicated white papers and briefs. He said that “interning at NACDL provides an opportunity to get involved with law and government in pursuit of social justice. As a government and philosophy double major, that hits just about all of my interests.” Ryan is working for NACDL’s Director of Public Affairs and Communications, Jack King, and Deputy Director of Public Affairs and Communications, Ivan Dominguez. 

Alex Spiliotes is majoring in English at Haverford College. Alex interned at Project Healing Waters Fly-Fishing, where he taught wounded/disabled soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan how to fly-fish, helped with casting instruction and fly-tying clinics at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and assisted soldiers during fishing trips. Alex also worked as a research assistant for the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project at George Washington University, where he edited and transcribed letters and audio recordings of Eleanor Roosevelt for publication and listing on the Project’s research website. Alex is working for NACDL’s State Legislative Affairs Director, Angelyn Frazer. “I am particularly interested in the ‘War on Drugs’ and the problem of overcriminalization,” he explained, “so I am extremely excited to work with Angelyn Frazer to learn more about enacting positive criminal justice reforms related to both issues at the state level.” 

Rica-Marie Garcia is a student at the Art Institute of Washington, where she is majoring in graphic design. Rica-Marie is working for NACDL’s Art Director, Catherine Zlomek. She decided to join NACDL so that she can improve her creativity, work ethic, and design skills for her future career in graphic design. Her skills include Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Digital Vector Art, Adobe Dreamweaver, and Microsoft PowerPoint.

Featured Products