The Catholic University of America

 

JulieAnn Rico Allison Greg Ugalde Keith Pagnani
Harold M. Ginzburg Edward W. Long Michael Bidwill
Charles W. Gittins Francisco Hernandez Jr. Debrorah A. Lawrence

 

Out of the 8,270 alumni of Catholic University's law school, nearly half live or work outside of the D.C. area. The following people are just a sampling of law school alumni who have found interesting and successful careers beyond the Beltway.

In 1996 JulieAnn Rico Allison took a sabbatical from the practice of law to open up an architectural antique and salvage business with her husband, Jerry Allison, in West Palm Beach. Allison's Architectural Antique Salvage sells doors, mirrors, chandeliers, wood flooring, antique furnishings and decorative items purchased from around the nation and on trips abroad.

Prior to opening her antique and salvage shop, Allison, who was the first woman to serve as president of the Palm Beach County Bar Association, had a very successful legal career with Boose, Casey, Ciklin, Martens, McBane & O'Connell and Arvida Company, where she managed real estate and construction litigation. She now juggles business management with motherhood and a legal consulting career, and was recently appointed by President Bush to sit on the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission, which screens candidates for federal judgeships and the position of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

CUA: Why did you leave the practice of law?
Allison: Law had become my life. Everything I did was law-related. I needed to know that there was life after law. I needed another identity.

CUA: What inspired you to create an antique and salvage shop?
Allison: While I was renovating my home, I met my future husband. I discovered that he liked three- legged chairs as much as I did. He had some experience in the industry and we decided to start our own architectural salvage business. We started out with $400 worth of inventory in our garage and six years later have grown to a 30,000 square foot warehouse that was once an airplane hangar.

CUA: So business is good?
Allison: It's great! The Palm Beach area has several historic mansions that are being renovated or demolished. We go in and negotiate salvage rights. We've had chairs from Calvin Klein's home, furniture from Burt Reynold's estate, billionaire John Kluge's custom steel doors, and gates, doors, windows and statues from the former Ripley estate.

I'm remodeling my own home with strictly salvaged items. We probably have the only den in the world with paneling purchased from Tiffany's and a ceiling from Cartier.

CUA: It takes a lot of courage to venture into the unknown.
Allison: It can be pretty scary, but my husband gave me the courage to take the sabbatical. He pointed out that it's things like happiness that you don't see listed on resumés. And I needed a break.

CUA: Has it been difficult learning the business?
Allison: It has been so much fun. We take great buying trips to Europe, mostly Italy. We've started to go from mostly salvaged items toward more antiques. We tend to deal mostly in the Tuscan look.

CUA: Why did you decide to return to the practice of law?
Allison: During my sabbatical, I realized that I had a great career and wonderful profession. And I didn't want to give that up.

CUA: You are currently working as a legal consultant for the school district of Palm Beach County. What do you do?
Allison: The other day I was thinking that when I went to law school I wanted to get involved in improving the education system, and now twenty years later I'm still involved with schools. As a legal consultant, I represent the school district on matters relating to its operations, facilities management and real estate divisions. I negotiate real estate transactions and pre-suit construction claims and contracts.


For the past seven years, _Greg Ugalde has worked for T&M Building Company, a $28 million company that builds homes and condominiums throughout Connecticut, as its vice president and general counsel. He is also co-owner of T&M Homes. Prior to joining T&M, Ugalde worked as a lawyer for Schatz, Schatz, Ribicoff and Kotkin, and then went on to start his own law firm.

At the age of 38, Greg Ugalde won the Hartford Business Journal's "40 under 40" award for business leadership and community involvement. He was also recently named "Builder of the Year" by the Home Builders Association of Connecticut. He is a member of the Burlington Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Committee and chairman of the Connecticut Developers Council.

CUA: What role do you play at T&M Building Company?
Ugalde: As the vice president and general counsel, I oversee legal matters, bonding, acquisitions, financing and marketing.

CUA: What was the toughest decision you had to make in your professional life?
Ugalde: Whether or not to leave a large law firm and cross over to work with a construction company.

CUA: Why did you choose to leave private practice?
Ugalde: After working with developers and real estate clients for many years, it was clear to me that I preferred a more entrepreneurial career. The large law firm experience was very rewarding, but my career change offered a wider range of challenges.

CUA: Why did you decide to go into construction?
Ugalde: My legal background included both commercial and residential real estate law, as well as extensive experience in all land use areas. This exposed me to builders and developers throughout the region. This, along with construction experience over the summers while I was in school, helped me to identify the construction field.

CUA: What do you enjoy the most about working for T&M?
Ugalde: Every day offers new challenges. No two issues are ever the same. My partner and I have a great relationship and our skills compliment each other. It is great for me to be able to say "I did that subdivision" and mean I did everything from beginning to end. Not just the legal, but the negotiations, acquisition, financing, marketing and oversight of the construction.

CUA: What has been the hardest lesson you've learned?
Ugalde: That somehow you have to learn how to exercise patience.

CUA: What are your future professional goals?
Ugalde: By staying active on the Connecticut Bar Association Executive Committee for the Planning and Zoning Section and the LANDS National Attorney Network for land use attorneys, I continue to grow professionally. Continued legal development is very important to me. A legal background proves helpful in my business and in community involvement. As a senior officer of the Home Builders Association of Connecticut and chairman of the Connecticut Developers Council, many legal issues surface on a daily basis.

CUA: How do you define success?
Ugalde: Finding a balance between all facets of your life.

Keith and Kathryn met in law school, and their relationship flourished in, of all places, tax class (not to mention The Third Edition). After graduation from law school, Keith joined the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell in New York City, and is currently a partner in the mergers and acquisitions group. Keith also sits on the board of trustees of New York United Hospital Medical Center. Kathryn went to work for Dewey Ballantine in their real estate department, where she takes full advantage of its flex-time program and is actively involved as a volunteer in her home community. They have two children, Kiernan Clare and Keith Jr., and live in Rye, NY.

CUA: What has been the most challenging aspect of your legal career?
Keith: The most challenging aspect has been balancing the long hours that come with an M&A practice in New York with the demands of a growing family with small children and maintaining my golf handicap!
Kathryn: Balancing work and family. This has been made easier by Dewey's extremely accommodating flex schedule, which permits me to work regular hours three days a week in New York City and one day from home.

CUA: How do you balance family life with a successful legal career?
Keith: It's a balancing act. With Katy working in Dewey Ballantine's New York City office only part-time with regular hours, she definitely has an easier time balancing than I do. It also makes it easier for me due to the fact that Katy basically does everything! The hours are demanding and tend to be especially so during the thick of a transaction. I've found it key to take advantage of "downtimes" when a transaction is not running at a frenetic pace.
Kathryn: It is definitely a challenge. It helps immensely that Dewey seems to be well ahead of the curve when it comes to flex time opportunities.

CUA: How does the practice of law differ in New York City from other cities?
Keith: In New York generally and in my practice specifically, the work tends to be highly transactional in nature, which means I basically move from deal to deal. The pace probably also sets New York apart from most other cities.
Kathryn: I don't know that my practice varies much because I'm in New York.

CUA: What are the advantages of practicing in a large law firm? Disadvantages?
Keith: I don't see many disadvantages with large law firm practice. On the contrary, I've found that a large law firm provides access to a broad array of interesting clients and fairly cutting edge work with a tremendous amount of resources at your disposal to assist in the execution of that work. I feel as though I have the best of all worlds. While Sullivan & Cromwell has over 500 lawyers now, our M&A group (#1 in M&A over the past two years) has less than 40 core players giving it a small firm feel in many respects.
Kathryn: On the advantages, resources and the innovative approach to flex are definite pluses.

CUA: Is there anything you would change about your professional path?
Keith: Other than not setting up an Internet business and selling it prior to the March 2000 tech crash, I have no regrets professionally.
Kathryn: No.

CUA: How did your education at CUA prepare you for your career?
Keith: CUA definitely provided me with a solid foundation for practicing law. The professors' genuine interest in the success of the students generally coupled with a sense of community among the student body made a very difficult task (i.e. learning the legal and analytical skills required to thrive in private practice) very enjoyable. The location was also instrumental. Being in D.C., I was able to take advantage of an internship at the Securities and Exchange Commission during my third year, which sparked my interest in M&A.
Kathryn: CUA's balanced approach provided the perfect mix of challenge and camaraderie. I look back fondly on my days at CUA.
At the time Harold Ginzburg was attending law school, he was already a practicing psychiatrist and a commissioned officer in the United States Public Health Service, responsible for substance abuse and AIDS research. He later held a series of professional positions dealing with immigration issues and problems associated with natural and man-made disasters, ranging from volcano eruptions in the Philippines to the nuclear power plant explosion at the Ukraine facility in Chernobyl.

Since retiring from the United States Public Health Service, he has established a practice in neuropsychiatry in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans.

CUA: After spending four years attaining your medical degree, a year doing a medical internship, three years of psychiatry residency and a year pursuing a master's of public health, why did you decide to attend law school?
Ginzburg: I went to law school because much of what I was doing for the government, as a commissioned officer in the United States Public Health Service, had legal implications. I was performing research in the areas of drug abuse, alcoholism, and then as drug abusers began to become infected with HIV/AIDS, AIDS research. Also, to round out the confusion I was involved in helping to develop the psychiatric and substance abuse medical expulsion criteria for immigrants as part of the newly enacted immigration law. Fundamentally, learning the organizational or structural aspects of law, what it represents, what it can and cannot do, and how the law, civil and criminal, applies to medicine has become a rather critical aspect of practicing medicine whether in the public or private sector.

CUA: Did you always intend to pursue a law degree? If not, what served as the catalyst?
Ginzburg: One of my electives in medical school was a course entitled medical-legal issues in trial practice. I have always been interested in legal matters, however, given that I was accepted to medical school at the same time I was accepted to college, it seemed prudent to attend medical school first.

CUA: How has your law degree helped you in your career?
Ginzburg: A law degree is a benefit in dealing with attorneys. Attempts at intimidation, by attorneys, in civil and criminal lawsuits, are unsuccessful because I am comfortable enough with the law and can look things up or call on other attorneys to deal with their valid and not so valid threats. Also, in preparing for testimony, I can anticipate what I need to do to meet the appropriate legal thresholds with regard to issues concerning medical certainty, among others. Most physicians do not understand that medical certainty is nothing more than a probability statement that says that the statement they are making is 'more likely than not' [50.01%] to be true. Understanding medical and legal concepts of predictive validity, concepts of evidence, the limits of direct and cross examination, and other medical-legal issues permits me to function in the legal arenas with more comfort; I am able to better serve my patients and my clients.

CUA: What is your current occupation?
Ginzburg: At the present time, I practice neuropsychiatry. Neuropsychiatry deals with psychiatric, neurologic and other medical conditions that affect an individual's ability to function at home, at work, and within the community. I generally deal with people who have had traumatic events occur to them that have caused them to become dysfunctional either because of a resulting physical injury or emotional injury or both.

CUA: You've held many interesting positions. Does one stand out as being the most rewarding?
Ginzburg: My most interesting position - now - being a solo private practice clinician and trying to provide good sound medical treatment to patients regardless of whether they can pay for their services. I never know the nature of the problem that will come through my door tomorrow. New patients often require my reviewing the scientific literature to understand the nature and extent of their injuries. It is one thing to be part of a large organization with major resources - it is another when you have to act on your own making decisions that can help or harm others. I accept responsibility for what I do - that is both scary and exciting. There is no one that I can assign blame to nor is there anyone that can accept credit for what I do in my own clinical practice.

CUA: Could you explain your involvement with disaster medicine?
Ginzburg: I volunteered, or maybe I was volunteered, to be the consulting psychiatrist to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA deals with domestic disasters, both manmade and natural. The reason I became involved with FEMA was that I had some field experience in working in unusual environments - ghettos, military communities, aboard nuclear submarines. When it came time to have an American psychiatrist become part of first a WHO mission and later an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assessment of the consequences of the nuclear power plant accident at Chernobyl, Ukraine, it seemed reasonable for me to be asked to participate. I was a former nuclear submarine medical officer, a public health service physician with training and experience in epidemiology (the study of the occurrence of diseases), and happened to be a psychiatrist.

CUA: How did dealing with catastrophes such as Chernobyl affect you?
Ginzburg: Dealing with disasters like Chernobyl is generally a positive experience. What you see is how well people respond for each other and especially for their families. The Russian families were (and are) concerned about the future health of their children. They are foward looking and want the best for their children. They sadly acknowledge that there is little that will be done to help their generation improve significantly either economically, educationally, or having access to better medical services. Their sense of family certainly transends any kind of religious or political beliefs they have or we wish to superimpose upon them.

CUA: What is the most difficult aspect about being an attorney and a physician?
Ginzburg: The most difficult issue in being trained as both a physician and an attorney is the fundamental difference in approaching a given situation. A physician evaluates a patient and tries to associate that patient with other patients who have had similar clinical signs and symptoms. A lawyer evaluates a client and tries to determine what are the unique features of this case that will allow the case to be differentiated from other cases so as to increase the potential financial outcome of the litigation or to allow a client to be found innocent even though the law appears to apply to the facts or circumstances of the case. Thus, in general, a physician initially may want to include an individual in a class of similarly ill patients while a lawyer initially may want to exclude an individual from a class of similarly affected/charged individuals.


Edward W. Long attended Catholic University's law school on a full tuition scholarship and graduated in 1970 third in his class. After graduation he joined Mudge Rose Guthrie Alexander & Ferdon as a corporate attorney. Until 1993, he served as the managing partner of its Los Angeles office, having opened that office in 1982.

In 1994, Long started his own practice as an elder law attorney, helping older adults and their families deal with questions relating to healthcare planning, long-term care, wills, trusts, property transfers, and estate planning. Two years later, he founded H.E.L.P. (Healthcare and Elder Law Programs), a non-profit information resource for older adults. He was recently presented with the Powley Elder Law Award by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys for his efforts and commitment to promoting the rights and needs of the elderly.

CUA: Are you from California originally?
Long: I'm from Syracuse, New York.

CUA: Why did you attend law school at Catholic University?
Long: I believe that Washington, D.C. is the ideal place to attend law school - it's where our nation's laws are made - Congress, the Supreme Court, the White House, administrative agencies. CUA law made me an offer I couldn't refuse, a full tuition scholarship.

CUA: When you attended law school what did you intend to do with your law degree?
Long: I was looking to go work as a corporate attorney, which I did as an associate in a Wall Street law firm, Mudge Rose. It also happened to be the firm the Richard Nixon and John Mitchell had worked at.

CUA: Why did you leave private practice to found H.E.L.P?
Long: After 20 plus years of corporate and finance work, I had a desire to do something new.

Through my own personal experience in helping aging and ill parents I came to appreciate the problems that families and older adults were facing and having trouble dealing with. It was clear that there was a great need for reliable information and advice on the subjects that older adults care about.

CUA: What is H.E.L.P?
Long: A non-profit information resource for older adults and their caring families and friends. It's a unique service, focusing on legal, governmental program and healthcare-related issues that older adults specially care about. All services are free or low-cost, and available without regard to the income or resources of the person being helped. We are a "legal aid" type service, with a major twist: we don't seek government legal aid funding (it's scarce enough as it is without our adding to the demand). Our funding comes 70 percent from donations by individuals, couples and families, 15 percent from businesses and foundations, and the rest from our modest service charges.

CUA: Has H.E.L.P. been a success?
Long: Yes. Since opening its doors on September 1, 1996, H.E.L.P. has directly assisted more than 30,000 older adults and family members.

CUA: Do you miss private practice?
Long: I miss many of the people that I worked with during my "big firm" private practice.





After graduation from the Columbus School of Law, Michael Bidwill worked as a federal prosecutor in Phoenix, where he specialized in homicide and domestic abuse cases. In 1996 he joined the Arizona Cardinals as vice president and general counsel, overseeing the team's interests in the design and construction of the new multipurpose stadium in Tempe, Arizona that will serve as the Cardinals' new home beginning in 2004. He also spearheaded the restructuring of the Cardinals' marketing and sales department and has brought the team more visibility in the marketplace through expanded broadcast programming, promotion and special events.

Bidwill was recently nominated for Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal's "40 Under 40" celebrating the achievements of 40 of the top young executives in sports, and in October of 1999, he was named to The (Phoenix) Business Journal's "Valley 100-Plus Influential," the commerce publication's annual listing of prominent and influential business leaders in greater Phoenix.

Bidwill also is a frequent public speaker and involved in several charitable activities, such as chairing a commission for the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix and serving on the boards of NFL charities and the West Valley Child Crisis Center. He resides in Tempe, Arizona and is engaged to be married later this year to Laura Beckman.

CUA: What did you do professionally following your graduation from the Columbus School of Law?
Bidwill: I graduated in 1990. Following graduation, I joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona. I worked as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1990 to 1996 in the Violent Crime Unit.

CUA: When you attended CUA did you know that you would be practicing sports law and joining the Cardinals?
Bidwill: My family has owned the Cardinals for more than 70 years. I thought that I would work for the Cardinals someday but felt it was important to start my career outside the family business so I decided to go to law school and practice law.

CUA: Why did you decide to attend law school as opposed to business school?
Bidwill: I felt that a legal education would better prepare me for the ever-more complex business world of professional sports.

CUA: What would you advise people to do who want to practice sports law?
Bidwill: Getting a job in sports is tough. You have to have a real passion to get your foot in the door. Sports organizations are in a strong position when looking for employees because of the number of people who want a career in sports. Sports is more than working for a professional team. It ranges from youth sports to companies that buy sponsorships and provide equipment or services to athletes, teams and leagues. I always tell people who are interested in a career in sports to be good at what they do, be professional, and not to give up. Dreams are achieved in this business.

CUA: How large is your staff?
Bidwill: My in-house staff consists of a paralegal and a legal secretary. I also oversee all of the legal issues that we outsource to the team's law firm. I also manage approximately 50 employees on the sales and marketing side of the football team.

CUA: What kind of legal issues do you face?
Bidwill: Since 1996, I have lead the team's efforts to build a new $335 million dollar retractable-roof stadium. Most of the legal issues that I face involve the stadium effort. The areas of law spread over many areas: legislative affairs, government relations, real estate law, zoning and campaign finance and strategy. The stadium won a public vote in November, 2000. The next phase of legal issues involve mostly construction and contractual issues involving the marketing rights of the stadium. In my role as general counsel, I also handle typical corporate and employment issues.

CUA: How have you seen the legal aspects of the game change?
Bidwill: Sports law has changed. Most lawyers in the National Football League 10 years ago dealt with mostly corporate issues as well as contracts, labor, and anti-trust law. In the last 10 years there has been a stadium building boom in professional sports. NFL lawyers are now faced with the many issues surrounding the public finance, design, construction and marketing of these new stadiums. Millions of dollars are invested and earned at these venues and lawyers are charged with, among other things, minimizing franchise risk in the project and securing the revenues associated with them.

CUA: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Bidwill: Cramming 20 hours of work into a 10 hour day.


When Cmdr. Scott Waddle, who was in charge of the nuclear attack submarine USS Greeneville when it collided with a Japanese fishing vessel on February 9, needed an attorney, he hired Charles W. Gittins. Gittins, a Naval Academy graduate and former Marine Corps naval flight officer, has handled several high profile military courts-martials, including one for former Sergeant Major of the Army Gene C. McKinney, resulting in acquittal on 18 of 19 counts of criminal maltreatment of subordinates, sexual assault and obstruction of justice. He has also represented Robert Stumpf, the former commander of the United States Navy's Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Squadron in the Navy "Tailhook" investigation.

Although Gittins, who graduated first in his law school class, largely represents military personnel in courts-martials around the world, he also defends federal agents and government employees in criminal investigations, such as the FBI agents in the criminal and grand jury investigation of the Ruby Ridge standoff. From the Independent Counsel investigation of the Monica Lewinsky affair to the Waco, Texas, Branch Davidian standoff, his record of success is impeccable.

CUA: You've handled several high profile cases, what one stands out in your mind as the most interesting?
Gittins: The defense of Commander Bob Stumpf, the commander of the Navy's Blue Angels in the aftermath of the 1991 Tailhook Symposium was the most interesting because of the external societal pressures on the Navy that adversely impacted the military justice system and destroyed the career of a future Navy Admiral.

CUA: Why?
Gittins: Bob Stumpf was the "Tailhook poster-boy." Despite clear evidence of factual and legal innocence, the Navy nonetheless undertook a Court of Inquiry (with the less onerous preponderance of the evidence standard) seeking to prove to the world that the Navy took sexual harassment seriously. Bob Stumpf refused to be made an example of and hired a civilian attorney - me - to defend him. We won the case in every possible way; in the Court of Inquiry, in the court of public opinion, with the rank and file and non-policy making Navy leaders, yet the secretary of the navy, despite his own clear statement of Bob Stumpf's qualifications for promotion and innocence of the allegations against him, chose to remove Bob from the promotion list for captain. The following year, a different promotion board thumbed their noses at the secretary of the navy and selected Bob for promotion again. And, again, bowing to political pressure from feminists activists, the secretary of the navy removed Bob's name from the promotion list. He ended up retiring from the Navy.

CUA: Were you satisfied with the results?
Gittins: No. But, we are still fighting the case. We have petitioned the Navy Board for Correction of Naval Records to reinstate Bob's promotion and to award him active duty back-pay and retirement pay in the grade of captain, USN. Now that the administrations have changed, I believe there to be a high probability that the injustice of Bob's case will be corrected.

CUA: Would you do anything differently?
Gittins: Not really. I had a very popular Navy client; a true American combat hero and we took the case to the American public. It was a good decision and it has paid dividends to Bob Stumpf since his retirement as he is widely accepted as a Naval aviation hero. Scott Waddle, my present client, and the commander of the Navy submarine USS Greeneville is a lot like Bob Stumpf.

CUA: Were you surprised that Cmdr. Waddle was not granted immunity?
Gittins: I was not particularly surprised that the Convening Authority did not grant Scott immunity. The Navy has a tradition of expecting commanding officers to accept responsibility for the actions and results of their decisions in command. To have granted Scott immunity would have been a precedent that the Navy may not have been able to live with. That said, there was no reason not to ask for immunity - it didn't "cost" us anything and if it was granted it would have been a huge benefit to Scott, as it would have functionally eliminated the potential that Scott might successfully be prosecuted, given the Oliver North/Iran Contra decision regarding use of immunized testimony.

CUA: Why did you let him testify?
Gittins: As you know, it is always the client's right to testify. Scott told me when he hired me that he intended to testify. My job was to minimize the risks to him by giving testimony. I believe I did that by manipulating the hearing to start his testimony first thing in the morning on the last day, by having him read a brief prepared statement (which was permitted under the rules of the Court of Inquiry) and not conducting a direct examination, and by thoroughly preparing him, through practice with a "murder board" of lawyers and Navy submariners for his cross-examination by the Court of Inquiry.

CUA: What were the risks in testifying?
Gittins: The obvious risk is that by testifying, his words are likely to be used against him in a subsequent court-martial, if one is ordered.

CUA: What were the advantages?
Gittins: The principle advantage was that Scott is portrayed as a Naval officer who was not afraid to accept responsibility for his decisions and their ramifications. He did what no one expected he would do and what some so-called military justice "experts" said would ensure his court-martial - he stood up and answered hard questions about his decision-making and the knowledge and circumstances that led him to do what he did. In essence, by testifying, Scott was able to demonstrate that his conduct - based upon what he knew at the time - was reasonable and within the accepted limits of a commanding officer's inherent authority and judgment. This was all largely exculpatory and explanatory of his conduct and orders, which are all well known and documented. In essence it explained the "why" that went along with the orders he gave and decisions he made.

CUA: By accepting responsibility, didn't Waddle open himself up to criminal liability?
Gittins: I do not think so. Scott's acceptance of "responsibility" is actually codified in U.S. Navy regulations. By accepting "responsibility and accountability" he did no more than repeat what Navy regulations say about the responsibility and accountability of a commanding officer. That is not to say that Scott is criminally liable for the accident, since he committed no criminally negligent acts nor did he violate any regulations, orders, or mandatory procedures. Even if Scott did act in part negligently, there were intervening acts of misconduct on the part of at least one member of the crew, which is likely to provide Scott with a legally cognizable defense at trial, if one is ordered.

CUA: How do you decide what cases to take?
Gittins: I take cases of interest to me, depending upon my workload and other matters pending. Scott's case presented an opportunity that I could not refuse. Scott is a Naval Academy graduate like myself; he found himself in a situation in which he had no understanding of the potential implications of politics on his future and where the need for an experienced and seasoned attorney with long military justice experience was important to his future. I frankly hoped he would call me or one of the other two or three attorneys who regularly practice military justice for a living (not just one case a year or every five years) and who could help him understand that what he was involved in was NOT a run-of -the-mill military justice case, and could help him successfully negotiate his way to an end he and his family could live with.

CUA: How did your experience at Catholic University prepare you for your career?
Gittins: I was sent to Catholic University by the Marine Corps to be a judge advocate. The USMC paid my way, so I took my law education very seriously. I did not have the financial pressures experienced by most law students so I was able to study every day and was prepared for class every day. So, I think my circumstances helped me in that important respect. But, that said, my professors at Catholic University developed my sense of critical evaluation of facts and law and provided me with a matrix for evaluation that I still use today. I still use every day the basic evidence principles I learned in Professor Fishman's evidence and advanced criminal procedure courses as well as Professor Lester's matrix for evaluating and prosecuting civil claims under the Tucker Act and Federal Tort Claims Act that I learned in my federal litigation course. I have practiced with and against UVA, Stanford and Harvard-educated lawyers and I am convinced that my education at Catholic University prepared me as well as any of those "first tier" law schools.

CUA: Do you only practice military law? If not, what else?
Gittins: My practice is about 99 percent military justice (courts-martial trials and appeals) and military administrative law and claims litigation (administrative discharges, service record corrections, Federal Tort Claims Act, Tucker Act, Administrative Procedure Act). Most all of my practice involves the representation of active duty, retired or former military personnel against the United States.

CUA: Generally speaking, how is military law different from law in civilian courts?
Gittins: Court-martials are a little different from a regular criminal trial. The court is ordered (convened) by a military officer, generally the accused's commanding officer. That same person selects the members (jury) that tries the case and a concurrence of at least two thirds of the members must vote guilty in order to obtain a conviction. On the flip side, the members are permitted to only vote once on a charge and if they do not have at least a two thirds concurrence by secret written ballot, then the result is an acquittal on that charge. The court is presided over by a military judge, who is also a military officer. Except for those specific differences, most court-martials look and feel the same as any other criminal trial, except that in nearly every case I have tried in 14 years, I have never had a defendant with a prior criminal record. The rate of recidivism in the military is very low and most defendants will never see the inside of a courtroom again.


In November 2000, Francisco Hernandez Jr. took a leave of absence from the Grand Prairie municipal court where he serves as an associate, municipal judge, to work with Vincente Fox's campaign for Mexico's presidency. Hernandez, whose private practice focuses on business and legislative matters dealing with Mexico and the United States, lived in Guanajuato, Mexico, Fox's home state, before his family migrated to the United States in 1977.

After graduating from law school, Hernandez first went to work for McLean & Sanders in Fort Worth, and then joined Southwestern Bell's legal team, dealing with legislative issues, utility regulation and general litigation and labor arbitration. He currently is a solo practicioner specializing in international, immigration and government matters.

CUA: When you came to law school what did you intend to do with your degree?
Hernandez: Since I applied to law school, I wanted to use my bicultural and bilingual abilities to help Mexican nationals who reside in the United States. From working as an interpreter for law firms and courts, it was always my feeling that these folks who left their country seeking a better life were severely and inadequately represented in the legal system.

CUA: Have you done what you intended or have you taken another path?
Hernandez: During my 10-year career, my practice has gone through various paths: corporate, litigation and legislative. In one way or another, my work has always returned to help the folks I intended to help by attending law school.

CUA: Why did you want to attend law school at Catholic University?
Hernandez: Father O'Brien recruited me, specifically because of my background and goals. He mentored me personally and professionally.

CUA: What did attending law school in D.C. provide that law schools outside the area could not?
Hernandez: Opportunities. Mr. Allen G. Siegel, a partner with Arent Fox, established a scholarship in memory of his brother. I was the very first recipient. The only thing Mr. Siegel asked in return was that, one day, I give someone the same opportunity. Washington, D.C., of course, provided opportunities to work for major law firms, the Department of Justice and Congress. Not to mention the cultural diversity.

CUA: How did you get involved with President Vincente Fox? Why?
Hernandez: It was an opportunity that my brother provided to be involved in changing history. The adrenaline rush of a lifetime.

CUA: What is your impression of him?
Hernandez: Humble, honest, and determined politician. No, it is not a contradiction in terms.

CUA: How do you think he will change Mexico? US - Mexican relations?
Hernandez: He already has changed history. He defeated 71 years of single party corrupt ruling.

CUA: What did you do to help his campaign?
Hernandez: Not enough. I offered my knowledge of running grass-roots campaigns and I served as a link with the Mexicans abroad, keeping them informed about Fox and what he stood for as a candidate. I also helped plan and organize the inaugural events for President Elect Fox.

CUA: What are your future professional goals?
Hernandez: To play a vital role in Fox's hopes to open the borders between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada.


President George W. Bush, left, Francisco Hernandez and Mexican President Vincente Fox, right.







Deborah A. Lawrence is the assistant director for Community Relations and Outreach for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Previously, she practiced environmental law with two of Indiana's largest law firms, Barnes & Thornburg and Ice Miller Donadio & Ryan, and from 1996-1999, she was a solo practitioner with a practice focused on environmental issues in business and real estate transactions, regulatory compliance and remediation. A frequent speaker and prolific author, her articles have appeared in Hoosier Banker, Res Gestae, and The Indiana Lawyer, and she is a regular speaker at seminars sponsored by, among others, the Indiana State Bar Association, National Business Institute, Inc. and the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce. She has been a member of the League of Women Voters since 1989 and from 1991-93, she served as the president of the League of Women Voters of Allen County, Indiana.

CUA: Why did you attend Catholic University's law school?
Lawrence: Originally, to participate in the communications law program and because I liked D.C.

CUA: Did you plan to practice law in D.C.?
Lawrence: I did not plan to practice in D.C., although I ended up practicing there for almost two years after graduation. I left to move back closer to family and friends.

CUA: What did you do professionally after graduating?
Lawrence: I practiced toxic tort litigation with Jackson & Campbell in Washington from 1987 to 1989, then I practiced litigation and environmental law with Barnes & Thornburg in Fort Wayne, Indiana from 1989 to 1993. From 1993 to 1996, I practiced environmental law with Ice Miller Donadio & Ryan in Indianapolis, and from 1996 to 2000, I had a solo home-based environmental law practice.

CUA: Why did you decide to practice environmental law?
Lawrence: Decide is probably not the right term exactly. My job during my time at CUA was doing toxic tort litigation at a D.C. firm. That opened the door for a move to Barnes & Thornburg in Fort Wayne, Indiana as a litigator and someone to develop the environmental practice there. Working with lawyers from the Indianapolis and South Bend offices, I taught myself environmental law during a time when it was a "hot" field, and subsequently moved to Indianapolis to work in an established practice at Ice Miller. Although I'd never intended to practice environmental law, once I was in it, I discovered that I enjoyed the challenge, and since it was a relatively new field, it was a good practice area for women.

CUA: Why did you leave the practice of law?
Lawrence: I left the practice because I could no longer tolerate the emphasis on adversarial relationships and competition, both on behalf of clients and within firms. The clients and their priorities seemed to get lost in all of the games lawyers play. In short, I left because I did not want to be around lawyers anymore (at least most of them), and wanted to help real people with real issues.

CUA: What is your current occupation?
Lawrence: I am currently the assistant director for Community Relations and Outreach for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. I started working for IDNR as a lawyer/facilitator for some rulemaking. I was then asked to fill in temporarily for the human resources director, and then this position was created for me.

CUA: Do you plan to go back into practice?
Lawrence: I doubt it, although I wouldn't rule anything out. I might be attracted by the right in-house counsel position, but I can't imagine ever practicing in a firm again.

CUA: Do you miss practicing law?
Lawrence: I miss the level of intellectual debate and inquiry and the feeling of helping clients through a difficult and often scary situation. I also miss some of the perks of law firms, like support staff, and sometimes I miss the prestige that goes along with the practice.

CUA: What are your future plans?
Lawrence: I enjoy some aspects of state government, especially the potential to make significant positive differences in people's lives. But the red tape and big "P" politics is exhausting and discouraging. I might be interested in the not-for-profit sector, or a college setting - somewhere that is not driven, at least entirely, by a profit motive.

CUA: What is your ultimate professional goal?
Lawrence: My ultimate professional goal is to have had a long, varied career filled with challenging work that, in the end, makes a positive difference in the world.

CUA: How has CUA law helped you prepare to achieve it?
Lawrence: My law degree has been helpful in each phase of my career. Right now, the communication and evaluation skills I learned help me deal with concerned citizens, facilitate public meetings and know how far I can go with the media. The writing skills I learned, and the ability to learn a new specialty quickly are invaluable in government.

 

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