2025 Design-Your-Own Fellowship Applications are Open

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Leadership Development Training

2023 Breakout Session Descriptions

On Day 2 of LDT, Fellows have the chance to select their breakout sessions during two different schedule blocks. Please review the session descriptions below before confirming your choices in the survey sent to your email.

Breakout Session #1 – 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

  • Community Lawyering
    Featuring: Sylvia E. Davenport, Esq, Community Lawyer, Legal Aid of the District of Columbia; Parag Rajendra Khandhar, Principal, Gilmore Khandhar, LLC; and Omari Al-Qadaffi, Housing Organizer, Legal Aid Justice Center

    • Community lawyering is an approach that uses legal advocacy to advance community-driven solutions in ways that center local leadership and empowers communities to advocate for systemic change. In this interactive and discussion-based session you will have a chance to explore what is at the heart of community lawyering, what it looks like in different contexts, why it can be so effective, and how lawyers and community organizers can work together to serve their clients.
  • Managing Up, Down, and Sideways
    Featuring: Mike Pope, Executive Director, Youth Represent and Deborah Hill, Legal Aid DC, Supervising Attorney

    • Our goal for this session is to help Fellows develop the tools needed to build positive and productive working relationships with their supervisors and other colleagues. Participants will have the opportunity to learn tips and best practices for working with colleagues, direct reports, and managers.
  • Building a Strategic Network
    Featuring: Diego Cartagena, President & CEO, Bet Tzedek, and Stephanie Duke, Supervising Attorney, Disaster Resilience and Outreach

    • Our goals for this session are to look at the importance of forming and sustaining community based and public partnerships. By strategically developing successful partnerships based on community needs, organizational capacity and available avenues for advocacy. Fellows will hear examples of successful and challenging community partnerships and have a chance to consider how they can develop and best use partnerships in their careers.
  • Lose the Loafers: Strategies for Navigating Interactions with Diverse Client Populations
    Featuring: Verjine Adanalian, Director of the Second Chance Project, Ohio Justice & Policy Center and Brook Hill, Counsel, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

    • As attorneys, we bring ourselves and our experiences to the table—as do our clients. We work with individuals that embody a wide spectrum of differences, including racial/ethnic, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability/disability, socio-economic, and more. Sometimes differences between our client’s experiences and our own become barriers to accessing legal services and justice. This session will provide strategies for how to navigate client interactions with sensitivity to differences of many types. This session will also provide tools to better build rapport and develop a stronger working relationship with clients.
  • The Value of Your Personal Brand & Thoughtful Client Storytelling
    Featuring: Liz Hague, Learning & Development Manager, IREX; Marlena Hartz, Senior Director of Marketing & Communications, GlobalGiving; and Sameena Safdar, CEO/Founder, Amplify Your Voice LLC

    • How would you define your personal brand? If you are like many professionals, you have one—but you may not know it! We will discuss the power of cultivating and using your own personal brand to reach your professional and personal goals. You will learn how your brand can serve as a valuable tool for networking, to communicate with clients, prospects, colleagues, and stakeholders alike. How do we tell client stories thoughtfully? In communicating with your clients, you’ll realize that their personal stories are a vital component in conveying the impact of your work. We will delve into the ethics of client informed consent when it comes to storytelling, and how to present such stories in a compelling manner.
  • Fundraising for Legal Services
    Featuring: Krista Selnau, Director of Major and Planned Giving, The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp; Sherene Thomas, Development Manager, DC Affordable Law Firm; Sterling Morriss Howard, Vice President of Development and Communications, Lawyers for Good Government; and Whit Washington, Staff Attorney, TGI Justice Project

    • Diversifying funding is vital in legal aid. Join us to brainstorm funding sources and methods for acquisition. Learn about the donor cultivation process and how generational differences affect fundraising methods, as well as the notion of decolonizing philanthropy. Gain valuable samples of fundraising plans and resources for future use.


Breakout Session #2 – 1:45 – 3 p.m.

  • Recharging your Battery: Recognizing Compassion Fatigue, Identifying Resources, and Building a Strong Foundation for Your Public Interest Career
    Featuring: Monica Porter Gilbert, Policy & Legal Advocacy Attorney and Niki Irish, Outreach & Education Coordinator, D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program

    • Learning to navigate fatigue and strengthening resilience are critical skills for public interest lawyers to develop. Equal Justice Works fellows are called to work with clients who are stressed and/or have experienced trauma, to dismantle systems that were built to oppress, with far fewer resources than the other side has. All of these can increase the potential for vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, and burnout. This session will provide practical techniques for recognizing signs of fatigue and identifying resources for each fellow to build a personal toolbox for when stressful circumstances arise. Join us for a supportive, resource-filled discussion about how to take care of yourself and build a strong foundation for your public interest career.
  • Personal and Professional Growth and Resilience through Emotional Intelligence
    Featuring: Mary Kate Kalinich, Custody and Support Supervising Attorney, Women Against Abuse

    • This session will encourage fellows to understand and utilize emotional intelligence as a tool for personal and professional growth. Fellows will utilize internal inventory and self-awareness tools to build an understanding of how their own emotions can impact their work and subsequently their clients. Fellows will also learn strategies for incorporating emotional intelligence into their own career development and how organizations can play a role in building staff attorney resilience.
  • Trauma-Informed Lawyering: Understanding the Root Causes and Effects of Trauma When Advocating for Your Clients
    Featuring: Tracy Davis, Managing Attorney at Bread for the City and Jessica Emmerson, Director, Human Trafficking Prevention Project at University of Baltimore School of Law

    • This session will provide Fellows with insights into the inequities in the justice system that engender trauma, the physiological and behavioral manifestations of trauma, and tools for identifying and addressing signs of trauma. Fellows will engage with experts on trauma and trauma-informed lawyering and will have the chance to ask questions and seek guidance to inform their practice.
  • Designing Successful Pro Bono Collaborations
    Featuring: Kyla Moore, Pro Bono Manager, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP and Darryl Maxwell, Director, Nonprofit & Small Business Legal Assistance Programs, D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center

    • It can be challenging to design successful pro bono collaborations, especially when taking into account the sometimes-conflicting needs of clients, legal services providers, and law firm and corporate volunteers. Panelists will share tips and lessons learned from past experiences with various types of pro bono engagements. Time will be allotted throughout the session for questions & discussion.
  • Fundamentals of Representing Victims of Crime*, with the National Crime Victims Advocacy Institute
    *Mandatory Session for Crime Victims Advocacy Program Fellows ONLY

    • Representing crime victims is a unique endeavor. After experiencing an acute trauma that is the crime, crime victims must navigate complex social and legal systems that often compound that trauma—whether those systems are criminal justice, housing, employment, immigration, or any other of many systems. Notably, statistics reveal that many victims of crime are also members of historically oppressed or vulnerable populations which can make their navigation of systems even more complex. As a victim lawyer a key part of our job is ensuring that our clients can exercise their agency in these systems despite these realities. Doing so can be an uphill battle for many reasons, including that systems are often set up to exclude or silence our clients. Consequently, being an effective victim lawyer requires holistic legal needs assessment, creation and maintenance of deep and trusted referral and consultation networks, and tenacity to confront barriers. During this session we will collaboratively define what it means to be “Victims’ Counsel”, identify the diversity of expertise needed to holistically represent, and begin to build our personal resilience toolkit that will allow us to push against cultural and systemic opposition to victim participation.