- This month’s newsletter is about Civics. Derived from the latin word “civicus” meaning relating to a citizen, Civics, is defined as the study of the rights and obligations of citizens in a society. It is commonplace these days to see lively discussions and declarations about the rights of citizens, but less so the obligations or responsibilities of citizens. What role does the legal profession play in civics and civic engagement? What about the judiciary?
Answer: The legal profession, and in particular the judiciary, play a pivotal role in civics and civic engagement. In my view the legal profession (those who study and practice law as a vocation) and the judiciary (those who ensure adherence to the law) have a unique responsibility to remain constantly mindful of civics and participate in civic engagement given how closely intertwined the law is with civics. It follows that both those engaged in the legal profession and again, in particular the Judiciary, have a professional obligation to promote justice and ensure the law is upheld.
- Can you explain the role of the staff attorneys and how they came about?
Answer: At OSM, staff attorneys play many roles, including assisting the Chief Special Master with the procedural management of Special Processing Unit (“SPU”) cases and Pre-Assignment Review (“PAR”) cases, assisting in the review of Attorneys’ Fees and Costs (“AFC”) applications, performing legal research and writing on behalf of OSM, assisting the Chief Special Master with office management, and assisting OSM prepare for bar-related functions such as Judicial Conferences and brown bag presentations.
I’m not sure how the staff attorney role came about, but OSM has always had staff attorneys since I joined the office almost 15 years ago – ofcourse the staff attorney office at OSM has grown with the large increase Program cases over recent years and the development of the SPU, PAR, and AFC units.
- Prior to becoming an OSM staff attorney, what did you do? What are the civic responsibilities of lawyers, government and private sector, who practice in federal litigation? Do lawyers, generally, have more civic responsibilities than non-lawyers in society?
Answer: I’ve been fortunate to spend the majority of my career with court as an OSM staff attorney. Prior to becoming an OSM Staff Attorney I worked for several years as an Assistant Public Defender in the state of Florida.
I believe lawyers in government and the private sector have a civic responsibility to educate their clients, each other, and the Court! And yes, I absolutely think lawyers have more civic responsibilities than non-lawyers in society, as discussed above, lawyers have a unique obligation as officers of the court to promote justice and follow the law – which is essentially civics.
- What role does the Bar play in advocating or promoting Civics, either formally or informally?
Answer: The Bar through Judicial Conferences, brown bags, and other programs has a critical formal role to play in promoting civics. But the informal role that comes through networking events, mentoring, educating, and brainstorming with other members, law students, future law students, and the public is just as important and it’s often these more casual discussions regarding civics that stick with you.
- What is the role of staff attorneys in promoting Civics among the Bar generally as well as in times of crisis, such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic?
Answer: Staff Attorneys at OSM promote civics among the Bar, both generally and in times of crisis, directly through engagement in Bar programs (both formal and informal) and indirectly through our primary role of supporting OSM and the Chief Special Master.
Rapid Fire Round!
- Mac or PC?
- Top-three songs on your Spotify/I-tunes playlist?
Answer: I don’t currently maintain a playlist and love a variety of music – but all-time favorite artists include Prince, U2, and Dolly Parton.
- Favorite Stay-cation Pandemic activity?
Answer: Two: Nature walks and boating (power and kayak).
- Favorite movie villain? Favorite movie hero? (can be the same person)
Answer: It is the same for both: Wanda Maximoff (aka the Scarlett Witch)
- Favorite Guilty Pleasure song, t.v. show, or movie?
Answer: Footloose (the original movie and the song)