Washington College of Law Hosts State and Federal Judges from Around the Country


As part of the Eighth Biennial Just the Beginning Foundation Conference “Reaching Back, Lifting Up” American University Washington College of Law hosted more than 100 state and federal judges for two events, Sept. 25 – 26.

“Washington College of Law is proud that judges with such diverse backgrounds – including several WCL alumni -- could share their unique pathways to the bench with our community,” said Dean Claudio Grossman.

The Just the Beginning Foundation Conference brought together state and federal judges and law, college, high school and middle school students to enjoy the living stories of judges of diverse backgrounds who participated in panel discussions on contemporary legal issues. The full conference took place Sept. 25-28 in Washington, D.C.

“Pathfinder Judges Panel”

The “Pathfinder Judges Panel”on Friday, Sept. 26, brought more than 100 judges from the Just the Beginning Foundation conference to WCL. The panel featured dialogue with Honorable Reggie B. Walton '74, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and Honorable Marcia Cooke, United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The judges highlighted inspiring stories about their career paths to the bench. Honorable Gerald Bruce Lee '76, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division was the moderator.

 “Our Pathfinder Judges' Panel revealed the story and pathway of WCL's own Judge Reggie B. Walton [who transitioned from] Bonara, Pennsylvania to the White House to federal court,” said Lee, who was a programming co-chair for the Just the Beginning Foundation Conference. “The JTBF Conference is very grateful to Washington College of Law, Dean Claudio Grossman, Associate Dean Trishana Bowden, and Ms. Jennifer Dabson for their open and generous support of our program.”

“Robes in the Schools”

As part of a community outreach effort on behalf of JTBF, 60 federal and state judges spoke to 2500 students throughout the DC/Metro on Sept. 25. The“Robes in the Schools” session at Washington College of Law featured Honorable Vanessa Gilmore, United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas; Honorable Henry Kennedy, United States District Court for the District of Columbia; and Honorable Dennis Smith '78, Fairfax Circuit Court, who spoke to Washington College of Law students and local high school students participating in the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Program. The “Robes in the Schools” session was moderated by Rebecca Geller ’07 of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.

“For many children, this was a time to meet real judges – not Judge Joe or Judge Judy, but judges who live and work in their communities,” said Lee. “These judges shared with the students their inspiring stories of overcoming obstacles and becoming lawyers and judges.”