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Monthly Archives: May 2015

Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Claire Rauscher and Karen Popp on Duke Energy Team

Two of our own, Claire Rauscher of Womble Carlyle and Karen Popp of Sidley Austin were part of the team that represented Duke Energy in the recent corporate plea and sentence to criminal violations under the Clean Air Act. Claire Rauscher and her partner James Cooney of Womble Carlyle represented Duke Energy from the outset. A multi-jurisdictional investigation by both state and federal agencies began after a 2014 coal ash spill into the Dan River in North Carolina. That investigation finally resulted in criminal charges being filed earlier this year. Karen Popp was added to the team of lawyers representing Duke, and when she entered a notice of appearance, it certainly caught the media’s attention. Just this month the company entered a guilty plea to nine misdemeanor counts for ash-related violations at five power plants. Some of the counts were directly related to the Dan River spill but others were related to ash violations at other plants. The company was sentenced to five years probation and was fined $68 million, reportedly the largest fine ever imposed under the Clean Water Act. In addition the company is required to spend $34 million toward environmental projects in North Carolina and Virginia. Duke Energy made a wise choice to assure that at least half of their team of lawyers were women. So often, as was the case here, companies are dealing with women on the prosecution side of the table, and building a diverse defense team is important. And the company couldn’t have found more experienced women in the white-collar field then Claire Rauscher and Karen Popp. Anyone that knows federal court knows that a plea to misdemeanors, regardless of whether you are an individual or a big company, means there was some fine lawyering on the defense side. I am excited to see that women are and will continue to be involved in the biggest white-collar cases around the country. Congrats to both Claire and Karen for a job well done! The post Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Claire Rauscher and Karen Popp on Duke Energy Team appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Interview with Evan Jenness

Evan Jenness is a criminal defense attorney from Los Angeles, California. For over twenty-five years she has focused her career on defending clients and corporations accused of criminal offenses. She has extensive experience in federal court and focuses primarily on representing clients charged in white-collar matters. Before starting her own firm, she served as a deputy federal defender in Los Angeles. Evan is a past board member of NACDL and is currently co-chair of the Ethics Advisory Committee. She lectures and publishes extensively on both federal criminal defense and ethics. She has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America and Southern California Super Lawyers. Evan has earned a national reputation in the white-collar field and is known and respected as a tenacious advocate with a very strong knowledge of the law. Many years ago, I was introduced to Evan Jenness on a list serve. I remember asking a friend, “Who is that guy posting such intelligent content on the list serve, I save all his posts?” and I was thrilled to learn it was in fact a woman. And as I have been known to say when I am in the company of a true defender….she is the real deal! What do you love most about being a criminal defense lawyer? The challenges of taking on powerful entities and individuals in defending my clients and vindicating their rights.  Victory is easy to love, but I would be a criminal defense lawyer even if I succeeded less often. What is the most significant shift that you have seen for women in criminal defense over the twenty-seven years you have been practicing? There were very few women criminal defense attorneys when I started practicing, and most were junior lawyers.  The first generation of women defenders has now ascended, the second wave is coming of age professionally, and there is a large and increasing community of new female lawyers focusing on criminal defense practice.  It’s been a beautiful evolution to experience. Do you think women bring unique skill and attributes to defending the criminally accused? I’m not sure I could pinpoint specific skills, but I feel confident that women’s participation in the practice area has enhanced the field. Have you had women role models? How has this impacted your career? Women in high profile positions across the spectrum have always been a source of inspiration for me – from influential or powerful ones like Aung San Suu Kyi and Angela Merkel, to the late vocalist Miriam Makeba, who reflected the indefatigable spirit Soweto during Apartheid and thereafter. When I think about succeeding against the odds, I’m often inspired by considering the many women who have succeeded against odds greater than any I encounter. And, of course, there are the many talented women judges and defense attorneys I’ve been privileged to work over the years. What do you think it takes for a woman to succeed in private practice in this field?  A love of the practice and willingness to work hard.  It’s a challenging field and unpredictable circumstances are often the norm – whether it’s a client’s offices being raided in the early morning, investigation surprises, a document dump of tardy discovery right before trial, surprise witnesses, or any of the many other twists and turns of criminal matters.  It’s also still a largely male-dominated practice area.  Maybe some women can successfully transcend the gender barrier, but I’ll never make it into any boys’ club. One positive consequence is the sisterhood that has developed among many women defenders.  I’ve also found that gender is mostly a non-issue with clients, who care more about the quality of their defense than social issues. What advice would you give a young woman who wants to specialize in white-collar defense? Be persistent and take every opportunity that arises for getting a foot in the door. What do you see as the paths to specializing in white-collar defense? Be a public lawyer for a few years, whether a public defender or a prosecutor. What is your proudest moment in representing a client?  The highest profile proud moment that I’ve had was when a jury returned not guilty verdicts across the board for my client following a lengthy federal trial after his corporate employer had pled guilty.  I knew he deserved vindication, but the prosecutors and judge were formidable opponents throughout the case. If you could go back and give yourself one piece of career advice what would it be? ...
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Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Can Women Be Partners… and Parents?

The New York Times recently highlighted a woman-led law firm that lets partners be parents. The Gellar Law Group has created an environment where lawyers can both commit to practicing law and caring for their children. The article cited an M.I.T. Workplace Center report from 2007 which found that by far the most important reason women gave for deserting the partnership track was “the difficulty of combining law firm work and caring for children in a system that requires long hours under high pressure with little or inconsistent support for flexible work arrangements.” So has the Gellar Law Group, with their focus on flexibility, found the answer to this dilemma? In many ways I think the answer is yes. It is certainly a critical step in the right direction. The old brick and mortar law firm mentality needs to change before we will see a significant rise in the number of women staying in the field and reaching positions of power in law. Like it or not, women still largely bear the burden of child rearing and ultimately this has a devastating effect on our ability to compete on a level playing field with men who don’t equally share in child rearing. Carving out flexible work environments is a significant step in leveling the playing field. There are so many aspects of the practice of law that are changing. Today technology allows a lawyer to expand their practice beyond the walls of their office. And in spite of the fact there are obvious pros and cons to being available to clients 24/7, the reality is that this same technology allows lawyers in general more freedom to actively participate in their children’s lives and still practice law full time. So while there seems to me to be a greater effort to provide flexible work environments for all lawyers, in my opinion, the real beneficiaries of this shift will ultimately be women. The post Women Criminal Defense Attorneys: Can Women Be Partners… and Parents? appeared first on Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.
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