Alumni News

Dolores Dorsanvil ’00 – Mentoring, Legal Ethics, and Professionalism

by Megan Smith

Dolores Dorsainvil ’00 regularly describes law school to her friends and family as the best three years of her life.

“My time at AUWCL was phenomenal,” Dorsainvil describes. “I was fortunate enough to meet many of my closest friends there.  Additionally, the professors at AUWCL really invested their time in my professional development. It was important for them to make sure that I understood the material, and that I also had direction in terms of what I wanted to do following law school.”

Dorsainvil is currently a senior staff attorney with the District of Columbia Office of Bar Counsel, where she investigates and, where necessary, prosecutes allegations of ethical misconduct of District of Columbia lawyers.

“I didn’t go to law school thinking I would be an ethics lawyer or that professional responsibility would become my passion,” says Dorsainvil. “Following graduation from law school, I initially began working at a small law firm doing high-volume litigation work. I was later hired by the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland as an Assistant Bar Counsel where I investigated allegations of ethical misconduct of Maryland lawyers.”

Dorsainvil worked in Maryland for four years and has been with the D.C. Office of Bar Counsel for five years. She is very involved in the legal community, regularly speaking at numerous continuing legal education seminars, locally and nationally, serving in leadership roles for professional organizations including the American Bar Association, writing for publications, and writing her own ethics blog, The Gavel.

“I really grew into this love of ethics. It is a field that is important because it touches every type of practice area,” explains Dorsainvil. “The more I educate lawyers about ethical matters and professionalism, the more lawyers will consider their conduct, and, hopefully, as a result there may be fewer lawyers to prosecute.”

Since January, Dorsainvil has received seven awards, both nationally and locally, for her work in ethics and professionalism. These honors include being named among the2012 Nation's Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40” by The National Bar Association, receiving Professionalism Awards from both the Maryland Bar Foundation and the American Bar Association, being named on the Maryland Daily Record’s VIP (Very Important Professional) List, Successful by 40, receiving the Finalist award by the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyer’s Division for the National Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year,  and being recognized as the International Women’s Day Awardee by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated’s Psi Epsilon Omega Chapter for her international humanitarian efforts in her family’s homeland of Haiti.

Because of her law school experience, Dorsainvil says she strives to “pay it forward” whenever possible.

Dorsainvil teaches legal ethics as an adjunct professor at AUWCL, and serves as a mentor for her students.

“I tell my students to keep an open mind, because there is so much you can do with a law degree,” notes Dorsainvil. “Everything is not always black and white—or litigators versus transactional corporate attorneys. You might start down one career path and realize that your passion lies elsewhere because you stumbled onto something that really piques your interests.”

Dorsainvil founded a bar exam mentoring project in 2005 that assists students of color to pass the Maryland state bar examination. She serves as chair of the project, which pairs graduates of area law schools with volunteer attorneys who provide general guidance and assist with the essay writing portion of the bar examination.

“I’m so proud of the time and effort that the volunteer attorneys have put into this project,” says Dorsainvil. “Mentoring is something that is near and dear to my heart. I feel like I have had so many wonderful mentors that took the time to foster the kind of professional relationships that I needed, and directed me down the right path.”