PODCAST

In the Public Interest

WilmerHale

From international human rights and reproductive rights to cryptocurrency, the environment and beyond, this podcast explores the legal and policy challenges capturing the public interest. WilmerHale law firm Partners John Walsh, former Colorado United States Attorney, and Felicia Ellsworth, Vice Chair of the firm's Litigation Department, provide a front-row seat to the events making headlines. In each episode, they pass the mic to those with unique perspectives on the most challenging issues of the day.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Policing Reform
Dec 8 2020
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Policing Reform
(US Commission on Civil Rights) Commissioner and WilmerHale Partner (Debo Adegbile) and Chicago Mayor (Lori Lightfoot) discuss the US Conference of Mayors’ blueprint for improving policing and promoting equal justice in America’s cities. The interview highlights the challenges of balancing the need to ensure public safety with crafting necessary reforms that protect people’s civil rights. They discuss the polarizing concept of defunding the police, the impact of COVID-19 on public safety, the importance of mayors having a seat at the table for city policymaking, and the critical responsibility of both police departments and communities in ensuring peace. Topics covered: The US Conference of Mayors’ August release of a (Report on Police Reform and Racial Justice). (WilmerHale served as counsel to the working group that developed the blueprint.) Lightfoot’s professional background in law. Bringing policymaking to the city level, not just the federal level.  Defunding the police versus ensuring an equitable distribution of resources in communities. Reexamining the job description for police officers. The impact of COVID-19 on public safety. Communities’ impatience following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, and how the public can play a role in putting into action the blueprint from the US Conference of Mayors’ report. The Trump Administration’s view of police reform and civil unrest in contrast with that of the Obama Administration and other administrations. Other links: (John Walsh’s bio) (Brendan McGuire’s bio)
Washington Post Journalist Jason Rezaian on His Iranian Imprisonment
Feb 9 2021
Washington Post Journalist Jason Rezaian on His Iranian Imprisonment
WilmerHale Partner David Bowker talks with Jason Rezaian, a journalist with The Washington Post and the paper’s former Tehran bureau chief who was wrongfully charged and convicted by the Iranian government on false claims of espionage. While imprisoned in Iran for 544 days, Jason was repeatedly tortured for information that he clearly did not possess. David, along with a WilmerHale team that included Ambassador Robert Kimmitt, helped obtain Jason’s release and developed a legal strategy that resulted in a $180 million judgment against the government of Iran, including $30 million in compensatory damages for Jason and his family and $150 million in punitive damages. Jason speaks about: his life in Iran before his imprisonment his arrest and captivity his sham Iranian trial the extraordinary efforts that led to his eventual release bringing the civil case against Iran the current state of affairs between the US and Iran Links: BBC coverage of Jason’s conviction and trial: (Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian held in Iran) (Washington) (Post reporter Jason Rezaian 'faces Iran spy trial') (Iran trial for Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian starts) (US reporter Jason Rezaian 'sentenced' in Iran over spying) (Iran releases Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian in prisoner swap with US) (U.S. judge orders Iran to pay $180 million in damages to detained Post journalist Jason Rezaian and his family) (Washington Post subscription needed) (WilmerHale Wins $180 Million Judgment Against Iran For Jason Rezaian And Family) Jason’s book, (“Prisoner: My 44 Days in an Iranian Prison—Solitary Confinement, a Sham Trial, High-Stakes Diplomacy, and the Extraordinary Efforts It Took to Get Me Out”)
Deepfakes and Disinformation: The World of Manipulated Media
Mar 30 2021
Deepfakes and Disinformation: The World of Manipulated Media
WilmerHale podcast co-host and Partner John Walsh welcomes Partner Jason Chipman, who moderates a discussion between fellow WilmerHale lawyer Matthew Ferraro and special guest Nina Schick on “deepfakes”—using synthetic media to spread misinformation or disinformation. Schick is an author, advisor and speaker who has become an expert on how technology and artificial intelligence are reshaping our society. She is the author of the 2020 book Deepfakes: The Coming Infocalypse. Ferraro, a counsel at WilmerHale, is a prolific writer on deepfakes and disinformation. Before joining WilmerHale, he worked as an intelligence officer with the US government and brings to his practice his experience in intelligence issues and national security. Chipman’s practice focuses on how the rapidly evolving world of technology interacts with the law—and the opportunities and challenges that interaction presents. Ferraro and Schick talk with Chipman about the definition and examples of deepfakes, the fast-developing technology used to create and detect deepfakes, the potential for AI technology to be used for good, and the implications of deepfakes on government, business and society as a whole.   Links:  (Nina Schick’s website) and book,  (Deepfakes: The Coming Infocalypse) (Matthew Ferraro's bio) (Jason Chipman's bio) (Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast) (Smithsonian Mag) “ (Slick Tom Cruise Deepfakes Signal That Near Flawless Forgeries May Be Here)” (NPR) “ (Reddit Just Shut Down the Deepfakes Subreddit)” (Vice) (MIT’s Center for Advanced Virtuality’s project), “ (In Event of Moon Disaster)” “ (Some Deepfaker on YouTube Spent Seven Days Fixing the Shitty De-Aging in The Irishman)” (Esquire) (WilmerHale’s thought leadership on deepfakes)
Climate Change: What's Next with Regulation and Renewable Energy
Apr 28 2021
Climate Change: What's Next with Regulation and Renewable Energy
As President Biden’s first executive orders demonstrate, climate change is now at the heart of the federal environmental policy agenda. Outside of government, there’s a growing momentum among private companies to focus on and invest in renewable energy. In this episode, WilmerHale podcast co-host and Partner (John Walsh) welcomes Partner (Peggy Otum), who leads a discussion with special guests Professor Daniel Farber and Marsden Hanna on climate change and renewable energy.  Otum is the co-chair of (WilmerHale’s Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Practice). Her practice focuses on representing corporate clients in a variety of environmental regulatory compliance, litigation and transactional matters. Farber is a professor at UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment, and Hanna is the Head of Sustainability and Climate Policy at Google.  Farber and Hanna discuss how the Biden Administration is reinvigorating efforts around climate change regulation, the growing commitment from private companies like Google to counteract climate change (and why they’re doing it), the role of technology in addressing climate change, and what they expect to see from the Biden Administration in the march toward sustainability.  Links: (Professor Daniel Farber’s bio) (Sustainability.google) (UC Berkeley Center for Law, Energy & the Environment) (Biden’s Executive Orders) (CNN) “Here’s how Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan addresses climate change" (CNBC) (Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance) (Google’s Environmental Insights Explorer) (Climate Trace) (UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 (COP26))
Inside Privacy Law: The Regulation of Personal Data
Jun 15 2021
Inside Privacy Law: The Regulation of Personal Data
In today’s interconnected world, personal information has never been more broadly collected and analyzed by governments and corporations alike, making it imperative that we understand, enforce and update privacy laws in order to safeguard individual privacy. In this episode, WilmerHale podcast co-host and Partner John Walsh welcomes two national leaders in privacy law of all kinds: Partner Kirk Nahra and guest Stacey Gray. Nahra is the co-chair of WilmerHale’s Big Data and Cybersecurity and Privacy Practices. Among his other accolades, he is the winner of the 2021 Vanguard Award from the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP)—one of the most prestigious in the privacy field—which recognizes one IAPP member each year who demonstrates exceptional leadership, knowledge and creativity in privacy and data protection. Gray is a Senior Counsel at the Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) and leads FPF’s engagement on federal and state privacy legislation. Prior to leading FPF’s legislative engagement, she spent several years focusing on the privacy implication of data collection in online and mobile advertising, platform regulation, cross-device tracking, Smart Homes, and the Internet of Things. Nahra and Gray talk with Walsh about the challenges of having states with different privacy laws and why that may ultimately drive a single national law. They also dive into consumer consent and the complexities of regulating the collection and sharing of personal data. The episode wraps up with tips for individuals and companies to keep in mind when considering privacy and personal data. Links: (General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)) California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) (Future of Privacy Forum) (Stacey Gray's bio) (WilmerHale's Privacy and Cybersecurity Law blog) (Kirk Nahra's bio)
An Examination of the Death Penalty in America
Jul 12 2021
An Examination of the Death Penalty in America
In July 2020, the death penalty attracted national attention when the Trump Administration and the Department of Justice reinstituted federal executions for the first time in more than 17 years. Ultimately, the administration carried out an unprecedented 13 executions in six months. The death penalty continues to make headlines today amid several recent important developments. In this episode, WilmerHale podcast co-host and Partner  (John Walsh) welcomes Partner  (Seth Waxman) and guest Professor  (Carol Steiker) for an in-depth discussion of the death penalty in America.  Waxman, who is the co-chair of WilmerHale’s  (Appellate and Supreme Court Litigation Practice), served as Solicitor General of the United States from 1997 through January 2001. He is one of the country’s foremost appellate advocates, including in death penalty cases. He has represented death row inmates over the course of 36 years while in private law practice, and has argued and won several death penalty cases in the US Supreme Court. Those victories include Roper v. Simmons, in which the Court declared the death penalty unconstitutional for juvenile offenders. Most recently, Waxman was part of a team of WilmerHale lawyers who represented Wes Purkey, a federal inmate who was executed in July 2020.    Steiker is the Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Harvard faculty sponsor of the Capital Punishment Clinic. She served as the faculty co-director of the Harvard Criminal Justice Policy Program from 2015–2020. A former law clerk for US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Professor Steiker focuses on criminal justice, with an emphasis on issues related to capital punishment. She is an author on death penalty matters, including the recent book Courting Death: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment, which she co-authored with her brother Jordan Steiker, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law.  Links: Carol Steiker’s books, (Courting Death: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment) and Criminal Procedure Stories: An In-Depth Look at Leading Criminal Procedure Cases Charles L. Black, Jr.'s book, (Capital Punishment: The Inevitability of Caprice and Mistake) (Jack Carlton House case) (Death Penalty Information Center) (see page about (Race and the death penalty)) (Most Americans Favor the Death Penalty Despite Concerns About Its Administration) (Pew Research Center) (In Trump’s final days, a rush of federal executions) (BBC) (Biden administration pushes for Boston Marathon bomber death sentence) (Reuters) (South Carolina: new law makes inmates choose firing squad or electric chair) (The Guardian) (Garland orders halt to any further federal executions) (ABC News)
Reproductive Rights at a Crossroads
Mar 18 2022
Reproductive Rights at a Crossroads
In the Public Interest welcomes Partner Kim Parker, who speaks with Helene Krasnoff, the Vice President of Public Policy Litigation & Law at Planned Parenthood, and Dr. Amna Dermish from Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive healthcare services in the United States and around the world. The organization has also been a key player in challenging laws that restrict abortion rights and access in the United States. Their discussion focuses on two recent US Supreme Court cases with major implications for reproductive rights: Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, a case that challenges a Texas law that bans abortion once cardiac activity is detectable in the pregnancy, typically at 6 weeks, and Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that involves a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks, with Mississippi also asking the Court to overturn longstanding precedents like Roe vs. Wade, which would then potentially allow states to ban all abortions. (Parker) is the vice chair of WilmerHale’s Litigation/Controversy Department and co-chair of the firm’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee. Parker has represented Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health providers in numerous legal challenges over the past 20 years. In the Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, Parker and a team of WilmerHale lawyers helped several leading medical organizations file a brief in support of Jackson Women’s Health, arguing that access to abortion is a critical part of reproductive healthcare. At Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), Krasnoff leads a team of attorneys who challenge attempts to restrict access to reproductive health care, advise Planned Parenthood affiliates around the country about the legal issues raised by such attempts, and assist with PPFA’s efforts to influence state and federal legislation in order to improve access to reproductive health services. She has been with PPFA since 2000 and has been in a lead counsel, co-counsel, or supervisory position in dozens of challenges at every level of the state and federal courts to laws and policies that limit the availability of reproductive health care services. She has also worked with members and staff on Capitol Hill on many pieces of legislation, including the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Dermish is a board certified OB/GYN with fellowship training in Complex Family Planning. She received her medical degree from the University of Colorado, followed by residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia and fellowship training at the University of Utah, where she also completed a master's degree in Clinical Investigation. Dr. Dermish is currently the Regional Medical Director for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas where she also provides abortion care and oversees their transgender healthcare services, including gender affirming hormone therapy. Her clinical and research interests are in addressing barriers to accessing reproductive and sexual healthcare. Related Resources: (Brief amici curiae of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services, et al. ) What you need to know about Texas’ new abortion ban effective Sept. 1, 2021 (SB 8) (Planned Parenthood) (SCOTUSblog: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization) (What did Planned Parenthood v. Casey say?) (NY Times) (Texas Supreme Court deals final blow to federal abortion law challenge) (The Texas Tribune)
Environmental Defender Romina Picolotti on Climate Justice and Human Rights
Apr 28 2022
Environmental Defender Romina Picolotti on Climate Justice and Human Rights
In the Public Interest welcomes renowned environmental activist and former Argentine Secretary of the Environment and Sustainable Development, (Romina Picolotti), who speaks with WilmerHale Senior Associate (Kelsey Quigley) and Counsel (Jessica Lutkenhaus). This episode focuses on the important intersection of climate justice and human rights, and highlights the work of environmental defenders around the world—and the threats that they sometimes face. Picolotti has filed a claim before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, challenging Argentina’s criminal prosecution of her for a crime that she did not commit, and which she alleges is politically motivated and filed in retaliation for her groundbreaking environmental justice efforts. The case has been stagnating in Argentine courts for nearly 15 years, and is just one example of how judicial and criminal processes around the world have sometimes been used to threaten and intimidate environmental defenders—at a time when their work fighting the climate crisis is ever more important. Quigley and Lutkenhaus are two of the lawyers on Picolotti’s WilmerHale legal team, which also includes Partner (David Bowker) and Associate (Courtney Murray), who both deserve special thanks for their work on this case. Quigley focuses her practice on representing individuals and corporations involved in investigations, enhancing regulatory compliance, and complex litigation/controversies. She is part of the firm’s globally renowned litigation team, and is active in pro bono matters involving human rights and critical issues related to Latin America. Lutkenhaus represents corporations and individuals in criminal defense and civil and government regulatory litigation matters, and has substantial experience in government and internal investigations. Lutkenhaus was selected as WilmerHale’s 2019 Pickering fellow and spent six months at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). She also represents pro bono clients in various matters, including one alleging numerous violations of the American Convention for Human Rights. Related Resources: (Report on the Misuse of Criminal Justice Systems to Retaliate Against Environmental Defenders) (Informe sobre el uso indebido de sistemas de justicia penal para tomar represalias contra los defensoras y defensores del ambiente) (Petition Alleging Violations of the Human Rights of Environmental Defender Romina Picolotti by the Republic of Argentina) (Petición que alega violaciones de los derechos humanos de la defensora del medio ambiente Romina Picolotti por parte de la República Argentina) (Center for Human Rights and Environment (CHRE) )
Supporting Our Veterans
May 30 2022
Supporting Our Veterans
In honor of those who serve our country, WilmerHale’s In the Public Interest podcast is proud to highlight our nation’s veterans and the work being done by the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP). WilmerHale has had the privilege of assisting former members of the United States Armed Forces who apply for combat-related disability services. We are first joined by (Rochelle Bobroff), director of NVLSP’s pro bono program Lawyers Serving Warriors®, to discuss the impactful work being done to help veterans. The NVLSP is a national nonprofit organization that has worked since 1981 to ensure that the government delivers to our nation's 22 million veterans and active duty personnel the benefits to which they are entitled because of disabilities resulting from their military service. The NVLSP has been able to support hundreds of veterans in securing vital benefits. We are then joined by Rob, a veteran who served in Afghanistan, and WilmerHale Partner (Amy Doberman), who worked on his case. While Doberman has more than 25 years of experience in securities and financial services, she has also dedicated her practice to working with veterans and helping them apply for Combat-Related Special Compensation (CRSC). Rob served as a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps for 12 years, including during the war in Afghanistan. He was medically retired in 2019 after sustaining serious injuries in the line of duty and was able to secure CRSC with the help of Doberman and the NVLSP. Before his retirement, Rob was stationed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where he served three tours of duty between 2009 and 2013. Related Resources: (Lawyers Serving Warriors® (LSW) Program) (National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) )
Where Do We Stand on COVID-19? A Conversation with Andy Slavitt
Jun 14 2022
Where Do We Stand on COVID-19? A Conversation with Andy Slavitt
Over the last two years, one topic has dominated headlines and conversation across the world: the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, new variants of the coronavirus have emerged, but so too have vaccines, antiviral treatments, mask mandates and more. In this episode, co-host and Partner (Felicia Ellsworth) is joined by fellow Partner (Thomas Strickland) to discuss the current landscape of COVID-19 with one of the nation’s leading authorities on the pandemic, (Andy Slavitt). Slavitt is a former senior advisor to the White House’s pandemic response team under President Biden and a former consultant to WilmerHale. Prior to serving on Biden’s COVID-19 response team, Slavitt served as the acting administrator of the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama. He is the author of “Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response,” and host of his own podcast, “In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt.” Strickland served as Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks for the United States Department of the Interior during the Obama Administration. He also served as United States Attorney for the District of Colorado and Chief Legal Officer at UnitedHealth Group.  Ellsworth and Strickland speak with Slavitt about the trajectory of COVID-19 over the next few months and the politicization of the pandemic response. They also delve into the complex patchwork of local and state government policies to combat COVID-19 infection rates. The episode wraps up with an eye toward the future, attempting to answer one salient question: are we ready for the next pandemic? Related Resources: (Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response) (In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt) (Obama’s health care guru has been right so far about coronavirus. His message: This will be over, but it’ll hurt.) (Chicago Tribune) (Ex-Obama official who helped fix botched healthcare.gov rollout to join Biden’s Covid-19 team) (CNN) (The Health 202: Andy Slavitt describes life on the White House coronavirus task force) (The Washington Post) (What COVID might look like in the U.S. once we reach the endemic phase) (NPR)