2021 Government Law Institute Agenda

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D.C. Bar CLE Institute 2021


2021 Government Law Institute Agenda

9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.

  • Welcoming Remarks

    Speaker: Dennis Cuevas, Director D.C. Bar CLE Program

9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Plenary Session

Ethical Risk-Management: Practical Tips for Lawyers on Using Innovative Tools to Safeguard Your Organization’s Reputation (1.0 CLE Ethics Credit Hour)

Description: Media reports of ethical misconduct and criminal investigations are increasing, while at the same time, federal ethics laws and regulations have become increasingly more complex.  This high-energy session will identify ethical risks facing organizations and provide new innovative social media tools as well as practical tips that attorneys can use right away to mitigate reputational risks for their clients.  Stuart Bender, USDA's Director of Ethics, will share the tools that he and his team have implemented, including the USDA Ethics App (available for free on any smart phone by searching “USDA Ethics” on any app store) and the innovative new USDANASA Ethics Training Game, which uses avatars to explore the challenges of space exploration and ethical conduct in the workplace.

Faculty: Stuart A. Bender, U.S. Department of Agriculture

10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

  • Break

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Breakout Sessions – Group One

(Choose one of the following three sessions)

The Federal Regulatory Process: Nuts & Bolts (1.5 CLE Credit Hours)

Description: This informative session provides an overview of the federal regulatory process under the Administrative Procedure Act and an overview of other statutory requirements affecting the rulemaking process.  The session will also cover the role of the Office of Management and Budget as part of the interagency regulatory process pursuant to Executive Order 12866.  Our panel of experienced government attorneys will also consider different regulatory vehicles for issuing regulations.  Finally, they will discuss some practitioners’ tips for attorneys that interact with the government as part of the rulemaking process.

Faculty: Daniel Cohen, U.S. Department of Transportation & Christina E. McDonald, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Federal Service Labor - Management Relations Statute Primer and Updates (1.5 CLE Credit Hours)

Description: Our knowledgeable and experienced panelists will provide a basic primer of the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.  They will discuss the most recent developments from the Office of the General Counsel and provide an update on recent decisions the Federal Labor Relations Authority has issued.

Faculty: Wynter P. Allen, Alden Law Group PLLC; Jessica S. Bartlett, U.S. Federal Labor Relations Authority

Litigating in the Virtual World (1.5 CLE Credit Hours)

Description: After it became clear in early 2020 that the country would be locked down for an extended period, the court system had to abandon its deeply held preference for in-person proceedings or risk shutting down completely.  The courts adapted to this new virtual world surprisingly quickly and now, little over a year later, remote proceedings have become routine for all manner of court matters, including trial.  In this session, our experienced panel will discuss what has and has not changed in this new virtual world.  They will look at various approaches courts have taken to conducting remote proceedings, and discuss strategies for effective advocacy in remote proceedings.

Faculty: Matthew Dobson, D.C. Office of the Attorney General

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

  • Lunch

12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Keynote Address

The Government Attorney’s Role in Protecting and Furthering the Rule of Law (Non-CLE Eligible)

Speaker: Douglas Letter, General Counsel, U.S. House of Representatives

1:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

  • Break

1:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

Breakout Sessions – Group Two

(Choose one of the following three sessions)

Judicial Review of Agency Decision Making (1.5 CLE Credit Hours)

Description: Join our expert panel as they discuss judicial review of agency decision-making.  Among the topics they will discuss are the scope of reviewability of agency action, threshold defenses and standing, the timing of review, statutory construction, and regulatory interpretation.

Faculty: Austin Bonner, Federal Communications Commission; Jerrold J. Ganzfried, Ganzfried Law; Timothy J. Simeone, Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP

Hatch Act & The First Amendment: Where Things Stand (1.5 CLE Credit Hours)

Description: During this session, our knowledgeable panel will examine federal law restrictions on politicking by government employees.  They will focus particularly on the Hatch Act, as amended, and its restrictions applicable to Executive Branch and local government employees, as well as parallel rules applicable in the Legislative Branch.  Among the specific topics they will address are federal anti-corruption statues generally; the Hatch Act, including its development and relation to First Amendment concerns, the 1993 and 2012 amendments, current restrictions, and recent developments; parallel congressional and judicial ethics rules; and arenas for enforcement.

Faculty: William Pittard, KaiserDillon PLLC; Brian G. Svoboda, Perkins Coie LLP

Tort Claims Act: What It Does and Who It Protects (1.5 CLE Credit Hours)

Description: During this informative session, our experienced presenter will provide an overview of the Federal Tort Claims Act, including the history behind the Act, threshold requirements, and certain statutory exceptions to the Act.  The session also will describe some of the high-profile cases that have been litigated pursuant to the Act.  

Faculty: Sabrina Underwood, U.S. Department of Justice

2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

  • Break

3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Breakout Sessions – Group Three

(Choose one of the following three sessions)

Freedom of Information Act: Duties and Realities (1.5 CLE Credit Hours)

Description: Join us as our experienced and knowledgeable faculty explain how to file requests under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  The panel will alert those who attend to issues that arise in FOIA litigation through the different perspectives of lawyers for the defendant-agency and for the plaintiff-requester.  They will demonstrate how to frame and pursue FOIA requests before different federal agencies, and discuss FOIA exemptions.

Because FOIA litigation is quite specialized, the session focuses on the litigation of FOIA cases before district courts.  Our panel will address the different standards and procedures that apply to FOIA cases.  They also will briefly discuss Privacy Act requests and litigation.  Minimal knowledge of the FOIA is presumed – but not required – of those who attend.

Faculty: Daniel G. Jarcho, Alston & Bird LLP (Moderator); Elizabeth J. Shapiro, U.S. Department of Justice; Mark S. Zaid, Mark S. Zaid PC

Hot Topics in Workplace Discrimination (1.5 CLE Credit Hours)

Description:  Those who attend this session will receive an overview of disciplinary and adverse actions at the agency level based upon misconduct (5 USC § 7501, et seq.) and performance-based actions (5 USC § 4301, et seq.), as well as practice before the MSPB on appeals from adverse actions.  Our faculty expert will review whistleblower claims and the required exhaustion of administrative steps on prohibited personnel action claims before the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) prior to filing an appeal with the MSPB.  Among the topics she will discuss are the differences between disciplinary and adverse actions, due process/harmful error concerns, performance improvement plans (PIPs), mitigation factors, and last chance agreements; whistleblower reprisal claims and exhaustion before the OSC; discovery and discovery disputes; prehearing submission and disputes; hearings, initial decisions, and petitions for review; oral arguments; judicial review; and a Circuit Court case law update.

Faculty: Kristin D. Alden, Alden Law Group PLLC; Heidi S. Schandler, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Developing Your Case: The Who, What, When, Why and How (1.5 CLE Credit Hours)

Description: Those who attend this session will hear from experienced government litigators who will share tips and best practices for investigating complaints and filing affirmative civil actions.  The presenters will discuss various investigative tools available to government attorneys and the pros and cons of using different tools depending on the stage of investigation or the type of complaint.  Those who attend will also learn how to develop a working theory of an affirmative case and the best way to plead a civil action to survive a motion to dismiss or to support a later dispositive motion.

Faculty: Amy Mix, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia; Jimmy R. Rock, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia

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