The 2017 NLADA Annual Conference, Safeguarding Justice For All, is such an educational and fulfilling experience because of the caliber of its speakers and educators. Below are just some of the many seasoned practitioners who will be participating in this year's conference.

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, elected to the U.S. Senate in 1975, ranks first in seniority in the Senate.  A graduate of Saint Michael's College in Colchester, VT, he received his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center. Senator Leahy is the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He is the senior-most member of the Senate Judiciary and Agriculture committees. Senator Leahy is the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State Department, Foreign Operations and Related Programs.

One of Senator Leahy’s priorities is keeping communities safe. He authored the bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, strengthening the ability of the federal government, the states, law enforcement and service providers to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Included in the reauthorization was the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, reinforcing the victim-centered approach to combating human trafficking.

Senator Leahy also led efforts to reauthorize the Justice for All Act, which included his Innocence Protection Act to prevent wrongful convictions and protect victims of crime. Senator Leahy's death penalty reform package, enacted in 2004, helps reduce the number of innocent people executed by providing for post-conviction DNA testing and improving access to competent legal counsel.

Through his involvement and leadership to improve the quality of criminal defense, more than 300 people, wrongfully convicted, had their lives restored due to DNA exonerations, and more than 130 of the actual perpetrators have been located and prosecuted.

Senator Leahy has worked diligently on reentry issues, from passing into law a provision requiring the National Institute of Justice to study collateral consequences of criminal convictions federally and in every state, to the creation of the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction.

He has crusaded for the protection of privacy rights, copyright protections and freedom of speech on the Internet. He was a co-founder and remains a co-chair of the Congressional Internet Caucus. Senator Leahy has taken the lead on several privacy issues, including drafting legislation to address data and email privacy and security. He has also lead the effort to enact privacy safeguards for electronic health records.

Senator Leahy will deliver the keynote address at NLADA’s Annual Conference Opening Plenary in the Grand Ballroom at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel on Thursday, December 7, 2017, beginning at 8:30 a.m.


Judge Robert Wilkins

Judge Wilkins was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on January 15, 2014. A native of Muncie Indiana, he obtained a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in 1986 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1989. Following law school, Judge Wilkins served as a law clerk to the Honorable Earl B. Gilliam of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. In 1990, he joined the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, where he served first as a staff attorney in the trial and appellate divisions and later for several years as special litigation chief. In 2002, he joined the law firm of Venable LLP as a partner, handling white-collar defense, intellectual property, and complex civil litigation matters. During his tenure with the Public Defender Service and in private practice, Judge Wilkins served as the lead plaintiff in Wilkins, et al. v. State of Maryland, a landmark civil rights lawsuit that inspired nationwide legislative and executive reform of police stop-and-search practices and the collection of data regarding those practices. Judge Wilkins also played a key role in the establishment of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, serving as the chairman of the Site and Building Committee of the Presidential Commission whose work led to the congressional authorization of the museum and the selection of its location. As a practicing lawyer, he was named one of the “40 under 40 most successful young litigators in America” by the National Law Journal (2002) and one of the “90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 Years” by the Legal Times (2008). On December 27, 2010, Judge Wilkins was appointed United States District Judge for the District of Columbia, where he served until his appointment to the D.C. Circuit.

Judge Wilkins will be a featured speaker during the Awards Luncheon, which will take place in the Grand Ballroom at noon on Friday, December 8, 2017. 


Celinda Lake 

Celinda Lake is one of the nation’s top strategists, serving as tactician and senior advisor to some of the nation’s leading issue-based campaigns. Celinda and her firm, Lake Research Partners, are known for cutting-edge research on issues including the economy, health care, the environment, and education, and have worked for numerous local, state, and federal agencies. Since 2013, Lake Research Partners has conducted opinion research for Voices for Civil Justice about public attitudes toward civil legal aid and civil justice reform. More than half of Celinda’s work is with foundations, issue-advocacy and nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. Her work has also taken her to advise fledgling democratic parties in several post-war Eastern European countries, including Bosnia, and South Africa. Celinda holds a master’s degree in political science and survey research from the University of Michigan and a certificate in political science from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and she is a summa cum laude graduate of Smith College.

Celinda Lake will be a featured speaker during during the Civil Caucus on Thursday, December 7, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon. 


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