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Penelope Spain

Adjunct Professor of Law

B.A., University of Chicago; J.D., American

B.A., University of Chicago; J.D., American. Professor Penelope Spain earned her Juris Doctor from the Washington College of Law (WCL) in 2005 and is an...

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B.A., University of Chicago; J.D., American. Professor Penelope Spain earned her Juris Doctor from the Washington College of Law (WCL) in 2005 and is an attorney licensed to practice in the District of Columbia and Maryland. As CEO of Open City Advocates, Professor Spain advocates to improve reentry services for youth transitioning out of incarceration and returning to the District. She also serves as a public defender, directly representing youth charged with acts of delinquency in DC Superior Court. Professor Spain serves as Chair of the post-disposition working group of the Court’s Juvenile Subcommittee and was appointed by the Mayor to DC’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Group in 2014.

Shortly after graduation from WCL, Professor Spain supported the National Juvenile Justice Network as a Program and Policy Associate to promote statewide juvenile justice reform efforts across the US. While at WCL, Professor Spain founded and directed Students United, a program that trains law students to serve as mentors and advocates for incarcerated youth. She also worked in the Trial Division and the Community Defender Program of the Public Defender Service for DC, where she focused on Latino outreach and projects to aid ex-offenders in reentering the community. In addition, she participated in the Criminal Justice Clinic and served as an interning Law Clerk for a judge in the Felony I Criminal Division of DC Superior Court.

WCL and American University recognized Professor Spain’s dedication to public interest by awarding her the Student Bar Association’s Pro Bono Community Service Award, the University Award for Outstanding Service to the University Community, the Office of Career Services’ Pro Bono Superstar Award, the Myers Scholarship, and the Mary C. Arends Scholarship for dedication to public service law and civil rights. In 2011, WCL awarded her with the Peter M. Cicchino Alumna Award for Outstanding Advocacy in the Public Interest, and in 2016, honored her with the Equal Justice Foundation Alumni Award.

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