ADL Mountain States Summer Associate Research Program Celebrates its 15th Year; Honors Memo Competition Winners

  • September 20, 2022

Rathod Mohamedbhai attorneys participate in a panel for the event. L-R: ADL Board Member Matt Cron, Azra Taslimi and Christ Whitman

This year marked the 15th annual ADL Mountain States Region’s Summer Associate Research Program. 33 summer associates from eight prominent law firms participated in this year’s program. Under the direction of a supervising attorney, each summer associate researched an assigned topic and provided a legal memorandum to ADL. Participants in the program provide ADL’s regional and national staff with legal research on cutting-edge civil rights issues and are exposed to ADL’s mission and the importance of pro bono work. Topics studied this summer include the right to protest, extremist groups, hate speech and symbols, and more.

On July 25, ADL was honored to host the first in-person Summer Associate Research Program closing reception since 2019 at the civil rights law firm of Rathod Mohamedbhai. A panel moderated by ADL Senior Associate Director Sue Parker Gerson featured three of the firm’s attorneys – Azra Taslimi, Crist Whitney, and Matt Cron – who provided insights into their careers, what influenced them to practice civil rights law, and how they handle the stresses of the profession. All three attorneys emphasized that one can practice DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) work in any field of law. Following the panel, the summer associates presented aspects of their research.

Some of the 33 summer associates who participated in this year’s program pose with their certificates at the closing reception on July 25. Summer associates joined the program from across the U.S.


L-R: ADL Regional Board Chair Susan Brody; ADL Regional Board Member and Summer Associate Research Program Co-Chair Matt Cron, winner Kristen Kennedy, winner Megan Rijo, ADL Regional Director Scott Levin

On August 28 at ADL’s Civil Rights Awards Reception, the winners of this year’s Memo Competition were honored. The winners were Austin Hartley, Kristen Kennedy, Megan Rijo and Ashlynn Timmerman from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, and Shelby Pickar-Dennis and Hafsa Warsamee from Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath. Austin is a third-year student at the University of Colorado Law School. This is a repeat win for him as he was one of the 2021 memo competition winners. Kristen and Megan are both second-year students at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Ashlynn is a third-year student at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. Shelby is a third-year student at the University of Colorado Law School. Hafsa is a second-year student at St. Thomas Law in Minneapolis.

Both of the winning memos addressed the same question related to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and discussed the merits for and against holding tech platforms accountable for harm related to user-generated content — one under a consumer protection / misrepresentation theory of liability, and the other under a wrongful death theory of liability. The memos considered what obstacles (if any) Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act poses to holding tech platforms accountable and what are the best arguments to overcome those obstacles.

ADL thanks co-chairs Matt Cron of Rathod Mohamedbhai and Jennifer Shloss of Empower for leading the Summer Associate Research Program.

ADL thanks all summer associates, their supervising attorneys, and the participating firms for their participation. This year’s firms are Ballard Spahr, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Davis Graham & Stubbs, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath, Hogan Lovells, Ireland Stapleton, Otten Johnson Robinson Neff + Ragonetti, and Taft Law.

To learn more and / or to sign up to participate in next year’s Summer Associate Research Program, please email