Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 45

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT
(JAG) Corps. Since 2015, Spencer has been
serving in the JAG Corps, holding the rank of
captain. "I do criminal appeals on the army side.
When someone's convicted of a crime in the
military, they can appeal to the Army Court
of Criminal Appeals. Then I represent the U.S.
Army against that soldier in the appeal."
In September 2019, Spencer returned to
Harvard Law School as the Bennett Boskey
Visiting Professor of Law. That experience
afforded him the opportunity to improve his
own teaching methods. "[The students] come
from tremendously strong and diverse backgrounds with lots of work experience," Spencer
explains. "[Harvard] doesn't have as many
people coming directly from undergrad. I had
a lot of people with different experiences, with
very strong views, so I got the opportunity to
have lots of questions in class that I may not
have considered before. So, that experience
just forced me to be better prepared for
each class."

MAKING HIS MARK AS DEAN
As dean of William & Mary Law School, Spencer
reflects on the multiple ways law schools can
level the playing field in legal education,
including strengthening the pipeline for Black
and other minority law students and helping

them succeed. Part of that strategy, Spencer
says, includes helping those students develop
better studying and networking skills.
He also advocates for more needs-based scholarships in law schools. According to Spencer,
law schools in the past decade have placed
such strong emphasis on merit-based scholarships to the detriment of students who come
from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
"You have a lot of people who may be at the
lower end of the class paying full tuition. They
may have greater financial needs but end up
subsidizing those who are getting heavy tuition
discounts who don't have a financial need,"
Spencer says. "In some instances, scholarships at
law schools are justified based on merit, but we
need to expand those scholarships to try to
reach more people on a needs basis."
What would he say to critics who view his
proposal as a form of racial quota? "If you have
a strong admissions process, you shouldn't
be admitting anyone who does not deserve
to be in that class," Spencer says. "Everyone
that we admit to William & Mary Law School is
someone who has demonstrated the capability
to perform and succeed in law school and in
the legal profession. Just because you don't
have the financial resources doesn't mean
you're undeserving. That's ridiculous. There

shouldn't be an assumption that those who
have greater financial needs are less qualified."
Since becoming dean, Spencer has focused
his efforts on the safe return of students to
campus for the fall semester during the
pandemic. He also wants to strengthen the law
school's top-tier ranking and ensure the school
is engaged in social justice issues. "I'm also
focused on trying to make sure that we have
our eye on issues of equity and justice, and do
things that deliver programming along those
lines, and provide scholarship and financial aid
in the ways we discussed earlier," he says.
"The financial picture for all law schools is really
challenging right now. I have to try to expand
our offerings beyond the JD to try to develop
alternative programming for people who
need to be educated on different legal topics,"
Spencer adds. "They may not want to become
lawyers, but they deal with cybersecurity, artificial intelligence law, privacy, or compliance
issues at a corporation. A lot of compliance
professionals are not lawyers, but they need
training. And law school is a perfect place to
provide that."
Reach D.C. Bar staff writer John Murph at
JMurph@dcbar.org.

Amber Harding

Giving Voice to the Homeless

''

By Jeremy Conrad

	
Public interest lawyering
	
is basically applied cultural
anthropology but with better
tools," says Amber W. Harding.
She is qualified to make the
comparison, considering her
degree in anthropology from the
University of Arizona and experience as a longtime staff attorney
at the Washington Legal Clinic
for the Homeless.

Harding's approach to legal representation
balances this academic awareness of the social
conditions that led to her clients' plights with a
close emotional connection to the people she
serves. Because she is mindful of the whole
person, Harding believes it's important that
people are heard in their own words.
"Policy work is ideally done with the clients
so that I'm not speaking for them. But officials
often develop relationships with advocates and
want to deal with [only] us, so it can be difficult
to get them to listen to clients," Harding says.
"I have to be conscious of not trying to be a
translator. You lose something in translation.
I haven't experienced what my clients have

experienced. I describe myself as a plumber.
I may have a background to fix the pipes, but
it's your house."
Following a youthful interest in political
activism, Harding wrote her undergraduate
senior thesis on the stigmatization of homelessness. She took sandwiches to homeless
youths while researching the paper, hearing
their inevitable stories of abuse. When asked to
make purchases on their behalf, she observed
that businesses would discriminate against
them even when they had money to spend.
She heard accounts of police harassment. She
wondered what she could write in a paper that
would change their lives.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

*

WASHINGTON LAWYER 45



Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Family Law Assistance Network feature
An Avalanche of Evictions feature
Pro Bono Partnerships Forged in Crisis feature
Help for Pro Se Litigants Feature
Qualified Immunity feature
Taking Legal Support to the Streets feature
Taking the Stand Turning off the White Noise of Systemic Racism
Taking the Stand Situational Principles Aren't Really Principles
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
Member Spotlight - A. Benjamin Spencer
Member Spotlight - Amber Harding
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Speaking of Ethics
Disciplinary Summaries
Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 7
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Family Law Assistance Network feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 12
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - An Avalanche of Evictions feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Pro Bono Partnerships Forged in Crisis feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 20
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Help for Pro Se Litigants Feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Qualified Immunity feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 32
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking Legal Support to the Streets feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 35
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 36
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking the Stand Turning off the White Noise of Systemic Racism
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Taking the Stand Situational Principles Aren't Really Principles
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Member Spotlight - A. Benjamin Spencer
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Member Spotlight - Amber Harding
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 46
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 50
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 54
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 57
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 58
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 59
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 60
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 61
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 62
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 63
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 64
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 65
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 66
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - 67
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2020 - Cover4
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