The Brief: Law School News and Events

Classes Without Quizzes: In Old Days, it Was Easier to Get into Law School But Harder to Get Out
Malcolm Nelson, L’79

Ombudsman, U.S. Department of Labor

Malcom Nelson When was the last reunion you attended?
I attended my 25th reunion. Including the most recent, that makes three if not four reunions.

What drove you to this one?
After missing a few reunions, Michael Wheet, who was a member of the 25th Reunion Committee, coaxed me into attending that reunion. Coming to that reunion helped to remind me of what a good group of people we had in the class of ‘79 and of the many friendships that I established during those years. Because I enjoyed myself so much at the 25th reunion, I looked forward to attending the 30th reunion.

What is your best memory of law school?
There are so many: Intramural basketball; winding down from a day of classes with beer at, I believe it was called, “The Woods”; but most of all, Christel (Ford) and Cynthia (Williams) trying to keep me on the straight and narrow for three years.

Do you keep in touch with any classmates?
Unfortunately, I do not stay in contact with anyone to the degree that I would prefer. During the Christmas holiday season, I try to send cards, with a short note, to some of my friends, including some of my law school friends.

What is your most interesting experience since law school?
The two most memorable experiences since law school were getting married and the birth of my son. In addition, upon returning to Washington, DC, after law school, I along with some of my friends founded a mentoring organization aimed at working with young people. This organization sponsors seminars and programs addressing teen sexuality, teen violence; self-esteem; interviewing techniques, as well as a program encouraging young people that it is “OK to be smart.” Although I am no longer an active member, it makes me proud to know that 27 years later, this organization is still making a difference in the lives of young people in the Washington, D.C. area.

Describe your career.
Believe it or not, I have been with the U.S. Department of Labor since graduating from law school. I am currently the Ombudsman for Part E of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA). EEOICPA is a system of federal payments, initially established in 2000, to compensate certain workers involved in the nuclear weapons program. During the Cold War the United States’ nuclear weapons program involved hundreds of thousands of workers in more than 300 facilities spread across at least 40 different states. As the Ombudsman for Part E of this program, I engage in outreach and address concerns involving this program. In addition, I submit an annual report to Congress detailing the complaints and grievances that my office receives and I provide an assessment of the most common difficulties encountered by these claimants. PLJ