About the 2007 Founders Celebration

The Centerpiece of SECLE's work is the Founders Celebration, a series of events over a 3-month period held during the spring semester. The celebration commemorates the founding of WCL by Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett in 1896 at a time when few women were admitted to law school or the legal profession.

"The real measure of success is what you put into the world, what you leave behind, not what you get out of it for yourself."

-- Ellen Spencer Mussey

Speech at the 10th Anniversary of WCL's Founding

Wisdom for All

American University Washington College of Law (WCL) has an established tradition of offering exceptional and diverse conferences and lectures during our annual Founders' Celebrations. During the first five months of 2006, our Founders' Celebration gathered together more than 5,000 lawyers, students, judges, scholars and other professionals from around the nation and the world to attend our 53 Founders' events and conferences on key issues of our time. These events involved 315 speakers who, together with attendees, represented 375 international and national organizations, 56 law firms, 75 law schools and universities, and 27 embassies. Several events were cosponsored with distinguished organizations such as the American Society for International Law, the Hispanic Bar Association, the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, and the Center for International and Environmental Law. Many events were covered by the media and related materials were widely distributed, expanding even further the outreach and access to important information. During the academic year, a total of 62 events were web cast, increasing the law school's visibility and our accessibility by an audience unprecedented in both size and diversity.

As this rich WCL tradition continues, I am privileged to present our Founders' Celebration 2007. The extensive programming reflects our commitment to providing a vast array of events that engage the community on a national and international basis.

Our 2007 program has multiple highlights, including events that reflect the crucial role of the judiciary in a democratic society. This extraordinary series follows a similar initiative in 2006 through which WCL welcomed expert presentations by numerous judicial leaders from diverse hemispheres and legal systems including: Judge Luzius Wildhaber, President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), who was introduced by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer, and who spoke about the present and future of the ECHR; Judge Sergio Garcia Ramirez, President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, who spoke about the role of that court in the Americas; and Judge Philippe Kirsch, President of the International Criminal Court, who discussed that court's enforcement efforts. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, a federal civilian court that oversees the military justice system, selected and held a hearing at WCL as part of that court's highly competitive "Project Outreach" Program, and WCL students participated in the written and oral proceedings. Together with presentations by other distinguished domestic and foreign judges, this unique series of events highlighting the importance of the judiciary greatly enhanced our understanding of the vital issues raised.

In 2007, WCL will again host numerous exceptional events involving members of the judiciary from around the nation and the world, including: hearings by the Navajo Nation Supreme Court and by the D.C. Court of Appeals; a presentation by Justice Albie Sachs of the South Africa Constitutional Court on the enforcement of social and economic rights; a keynote address by the Honorable Reggie Walton, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, during our law school's commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday; and cosponsoring the 2007 Annual Conference of the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary, together with the Maryland and District of Columbia Association of Administrative Adjudicators, which will take place in Washington, DC, in October.

In memory of our esteemed colleague, the Janet R. Spragens Federal Tax Clinic has established the Janet R. Spragens Memorial Symposium on Low-Income Earners and the Federal Tax System. The Symposium will celebrate Professor Spragens' critical role in recognizing the special needs of low-income earners in our federal income tax process and her work as a pioneer for low-income taxpayer representation by academic clinics.

We will also celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the International Legal Studies Program with a two day conference featuring numerous expert panels on a variety of engaging topics including international business, international human rights, and international intellectual property. In addition, this year marks the tenth Annual Hispanic Law Conference, which will examine "The Voice of the Latino Lawyer: Accomplishments and Challenges," and the 5th anniversary of the Office of Public Interest, which is being celebrated with a Symposium on the Role of Sports in Advancing Civil Rights.

We will also feature WCL's United Nations Committee against Torture (UN CAT) Project. This project is a unique experiential learning opportunity for selected upper-level students to enhance their knowledge of international human rights law through a for-credit seminar on the prohibition of torture, which includes the preparation of papers concerning countries and petitions being examined by the Committee, as well as a field component: attending the official UN CAT meetings in Geneva, Switzerland, to observe the workings of the Committee.

WCL is also pleased to host the Annual International Conference of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists. We look forward to the program on Investment and Trade in Latin America that will focus on the Chilean model, which we are cosponsoring with the Embassy of Chile, the Chilean-American Chamber of Commerce (Washington, DC), the American Chamber of Commerce (Santiago) and the Chilean Investment Committee. During "Innocence Week," WCL and the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project will host a series of programs to analyze the flaws in the American criminal justice system and examine the exoneration movement that has led to the release of more than 180 wrongly convicted people. Innocence Week will culminate with a professional production of the critically acclaimed and poignant play, "The Exonerated."

WCL will continue our strong tradition of hosting a variety of moot court competitions - Alvina Reckman-Myers First Year Moot Court Competition; The William H. Karchmer Spring Moot Court Competition; The Eighth Annual National High School Moot Court Competition, and the trilingual 12th Annual Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court Competition.

As you can see, the programs featured in the Founders' Celebration 2007 will address a wide range of issues including, for example, business, arbitration, the constitution, human rights, gender, international trade, intellectual property, legal education, the environment, health, and diversity, among others. A sampling of events illustrates the variety and significance of this year's offerings: China and the World: The Import/Export of a Human Rights Framework?; International Efforts to Combat Racial Discrimination; Fleeing Persecution: Religion and Immigration; The American Prosecutor: Power, Discretion and Accountability; Innovative Non-Profit Financing: An Exploration into Socially Responsible Investing; Where The Action Is: Innovative State Health Care Initiatives; Zealous Prosecution and the Right to Legal Representation: Paying the Price When Corporate Employees are Charged with White Collar Crime; Reparations in the Inter-American System: A Comparative Approach; Investment Law Arbitration and Human Rights; A Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome; and the 11th Annual Sylvania Woods Conference on African Americans and the Law, just to name a few.

Numerous events will be offered with Continuing Legal Education accreditation and these are highlighted in the brochure. I invite you to join us for Founders' Celebration 2007 and to participate in the exciting endeavor of analyzing and shaping key issues of our time.

Claudio Grossman

Foundation for All

In hosting the annual Founders' Celebration, WCL follows in the footsteps of its founders, Emma Gillett and Ellen Spencer Mussey, who believed that legal education was key to achieving gender equality. Our founders would be proud to know that their institution's contributions to the rule of law continue to inspire our community.

In 1896, when Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett founded our law school, they created an institution that gave voice to many who, until then, had none. Our founders had the courage to see potential where few had dared, and the determination and practical action to realize their vision. More than 100 years later, WCL further contributes to human dignity by working to transform ideals into reality. In honoring Ellen Spencer Mussey and Emma Gillett, our Founders' Celebration seeks out innovative and diverse topics, examines engaging legal developments worldwide, and analyzes important issues facing practitioners in the field.

One person who continues the vision of these remarkable women is Penny Wakefield '79, the recipient of the 2007 Women and the Law Leadership Award.

The Award will be presented to Penny Wakefield during a luncheon ceremony bringing together women leaders from around the world.