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.
Leaders in Law: Rachel Brand
In this episode, In the Public Interest welcomes WilmerHale Partner https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/people/alyssa-dacunha (Alyssa DaCunha), who speaks with Walmart’s Executive Vice President of Global Governance, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary https://corporate.walmart.com/leadership/rachel-brand (Rachel Brand). In her role, Brand oversees hundreds of employees in the company's legal, compliance, ethics, corporate security, corporate governance, digital citizenship, aviation and investigative functions. Before Walmart, Brand spent more than a decade in government, working for three different administrations and serving most recently as the United States Associate Attorney General. She also previously spent time in the private sector, including a stint at WilmerHale.
DaCunha’s practice focuses on government and internal investigations and crisis management assistance. She has represented major corporations and individuals in congressional, white collar and civil matters, and has extensive experience representing companies facing parallel proceedings, including cross-border investigations, civil and criminal litigation, and state attorney general inquiries.
DaCunha speaks with Brand about her unique and impressive legal career, working at Walmart, and how her years of experience in government and in the private sector have shaped her as a leader today.
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 and 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.
https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/people/kimberly-parker (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.
https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/21/21-588/197787/20211027134617135_21-588%20tsacPlannedParenthoodEtAl.pdf (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)
https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/dobbs-v-jackson-womens-health-organization/ (SCOTUSblog: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization)
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/01/us/politics/supreme-court-planned-parenthood-casey.html (What did Planned Parenthood v. Casey say?) (NY Times)
https://www.texastribune.org/2022/03/11/abortion-texas-supreme-court/ (Texas Supreme Court deals final blow to federal abortion law challenge) (The Texas Tribune)
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, https://center-hre.org/6471-2/romina-picolotti/ (Romina Picolotti), who speaks with WilmerHale Senior Associate https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/people/kelsey-quigley (Kelsey Quigley) and Counsel https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/people/jessica-lutkenhaus (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 https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/people/david-bowker (David Bowker) and Associate https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/people/courtney-murray (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.
https://www.wilmerhale.com/-/media/files/shared_content/editorial/publications/documents/20190921reportonthemisuseofcriminaljusticesystemstoretaliateagainstenvironmentaldefenders92120191760443391.pdf (Report on the Misuse of Criminal Justice Systems to Retaliate Against Environmental Defenders)
https://www.wilmerhale.com/-/media/files/shared_content/editorial/publications/documents/20190921informesobreelusoindebidodesistemasdejusticiapenalparatomarrepresaliascontralosdefensorasydefensoresdelambiente-92120191760443.pdf (Informe sobre el uso indebido de sistemas de justicia penal para tomar represalias contra los defensoras y defensores del ambiente)
https://www.wilmerhale.com/-/media/files/shared_content/editorial/publications/documents/20180302petition1667213521.pdf (Petition Alleging Violations of the Human Rights of Environmental Defender Romina Picolotti by the Republic of Argentina)
https://www.wilmerhale.com/-/media/files/shared_content/editorial/publications/documents/20180503-p39518petitionspanish1675865271.pdf (Petición que alega violaciones de los derechos humanos de la defensora del medio ambiente Romina Picolotti por parte de la República Argentina)
https://center-hre.org/ (Center for Human Rights and Environment (CHRE) )
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 https://www.nvlsp.org/about-us/staff/#s673 (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 https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/people/amy-doberman (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.
https://www.nvlsp.org/what-we-do/lawyers-serving-warriors/ (Lawyers Serving Warriors® (LSW) Program)
https://www.nvlsp.org/about-us/ (National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) )
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 https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/people/felicia-ellsworth (Felicia Ellsworth) is joined by fellow Partner https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/people/thomas-strickland (Thomas Strickland) to discuss the current landscape of COVID-19 with one of the nation’s leading authorities on the pandemic, https://www.linkedin.com/in/andy-slavitt-a09b7a164/ (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?
https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250770165/preventable (Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response)
https://lemonadamedia.com/show/inthebubble/ (In the Bubble with Andy Slavitt)
https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-ent-coronavirus-slavitt-obama-health-expert-20200420-75i7kxm5kfeb3mz7lptiry6zvm-story.html (Obama’s health care guru has been right so far about coronavirus. His message: This will be over, but it’ll hurt.) (Chicago Tribune)
https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/14/politics/andy-slavitt-biden-covid-team/index.html (Ex-Obama official who helped fix botched healthcare.gov rollout to join Biden’s Covid-19 team) (CNN)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/06/11/health-202-andy-slavitt-describes-life-white-house-coronavirus-task-force/ (The Health 202: Andy Slavitt describes life on the White House coronavirus task force) (The Washington Post)
https://www.npr.org/2022/05/05/1096738289/covid-omicron-cases-endemic (What COVID might look like in the U.S. once we reach the endemic phase) (NPR)
Season 2 Trailer
Announcing Season 2 of In the Public Interest, a podcast from WilmerHale! Tune in for an update on our hosts and a preview of what to expect this season.
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 https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/people/john-walsh (John Walsh), former Colorado United States Attorney, and https://www.wilmerhale.com/en/people/felicia-ellsworth (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.
In The Public Interest Podcast
Fantastic! Insightful and informative. Extremely well presented. The listener will learn something not known before (even if the issue/case being discussed is known)
Incredible podcast! It’s a do not miss — I can’t wait for the next one!
Washington Post Journalist Jason Rezaian on his Iranian Imprisonment
Amazing podcast! Thank you Wilmerhale!