Zona Hostetler graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1957 with a major in history and from the Harvard Law School in 1960. She began the practice of law in Washington D.C. in 1960 with the law firm of Covington & Burling. While there she also participated in several pro bono matters. Her first pro bono work was for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in its efforts to achieve civil rights in southern states. She participated in working on the SNCC case of Moses v. Kennedy, an effort to force then Attorney General Robert Kennedy to prosecute those police and other government officials who were violating the civil rights of blacks in the south. In 1963 Ms. Hostetler volunteered to represent the Mattachine Society, a gay rights organization that a Texas Congressman on the committee overseeing the District of Columbia was trying to prevent from engaging in fundraising in the District of Columbia. She successfully prevailed in her argument before the District Commission having jurisdiction over charitable solicitations that the Congressman’s efforts were unconstitutional. She was elected to the D.C. area board of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1964 for which organization she has ever since worked on civil liberties issues as a board member, committee chair and volunteer lawyer.
From 1960 to 1963 Ms. Hostetler volunteered for the only legal assistance program in the Washington metropolitan area, the Legal Aid Society, winning the Society’s award in 1962 as Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year. Disillusioned, however, with the “band-aid justice” offered low-income residents, she authored an in-depth study of the shortcomings of legal aid (a study that was subsequently included as a chapter in Poverty as a Public Issue published by Macmillan’s Free Press). She joined with law school classmate Gary Bellow, Edgar and Jean Cahn and others in speaking out and writing about the need for systemic reform of the delivery of legal services to low income persons. She served on the working group to establish a federally funded program during the Johnson administration and then worked for the program that subsequently emerged – the Office of Economic Opportunity’s Legal Services Program – as principal assistant to the program’s first director, Clinton Bamberger.
In the late 1960’s and early I970’s, Ms. Hostetler provided pro bono representation in several anti-Vietnam War matters. This included successfully obtaining rulings from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Michael Tigar’s right to hold “how to avoid the draft” seminars for government employees and Dr. Spock’s right to give an anti-war speech to HEW and NIH employees during their lunch hour.
In 1977 Ms. Hostetler became director of the newly established D.C. Bar’s Office of Public Interest Activities and served until 1981. As director she helped create pro bono and referral programs matching low-income persons with legal assistance programs and volunteer lawyers; established the first bar dues check-off for legal aid in the country (a practice that then was widely adopted by other bars); set up a landlord-tenant clinic at the D.C. Superior Court to assist low-income persons facing evictions; and offered lawyer training programs in poverty law subjects, the first time that such CLE programs had been offered by any state bar.
Ms. Hostetler has continued to write, lecture and serve as an advocate for systemic legal reform of court, bar, federal, state and local rules and statutes affecting the delivery of legal services to low and moderate income persons.
While working for the D.C. Bar, Ms. Hostetler also founded the D.C. Bar Foundation whose sole purpose was to raise funds for legal assistance programs (the only such bar foundation program in the country at the time). She served as one of the Foundation’s officers and as program director for the next twenty-three years, raising over eight million dollars for legal assistance programs including those serving the homeless low-income children battered women, prisoners, persons with disabilities and persons suffering from AIDS. In several instances, she was instrumental in establishing such programs for the D.C. community. She also was the principal drafter of the District’s IOLTA program.
Ms. Hostetler joined the ABA in 1978 and was appointed that year to the Standing Committee on Legal Ethics where she served for six years. After joining the Ethics Committee, she became the principal author and lobbyist for an amendment to the Code of Judicial Conduct making it impermissible for judges to belong to private clubs that invidiously discriminate against minorities and women. It took four years of lobbying before this amendment would be adopted by the House of Delegates. After it was adopted the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Committee began using it as a basis for questioning Presidential judicial nominees concerning their memberships in private clubs.
Ms. Hostetler has been an active member of the American Bar Association for the past twenty-five years. Some of her activities with the Association include:
Member and Chair of the Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities;
Chair of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation;
Chair of the Committee on Professionalism;
Chair of the Committee on Immigration Law;
Member of the Commission on Nonlawyer Practice and a principal author of its report;
Member of the Committee on Delivery of Legal Services;
Member of the Committee on Legal Ethics;
Member of the Commission on IOLTA.
After graduating from law school in 1960 Ms. Hostetler worked for the law firm of Covington & Burling until 1963 when she left to work part time out of the home while raising her two young sons. After returning to the full time practice of law she worked for public interest organizations or with public interest or “quasi-public interest” law firms, with particular emphasis on individual rights. She handled or participated in handling several matters involving women who were discriminated against in job assignments and promotions before the Foreign Service Grievance Board of the U.S. Department of State and before the federal courts. She was the principal author of an Amicus brief on behalf of seveml national women’s organizations in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan that successfully challenged discrimination in professional schools on the basis of sex (a brief that The American Lawyer subsequently opined was the most successful amicus brief of that term). She was acting director of the Women’s Legal Defense Fund in 1982.
She also briefed and argued the Supreme Court case of Bradley v. Vance, an age discrimination case challenging mandatory retirement in the Department of State. (This effort was successful before a three-judge court but was reversed by the Supreme Court, after which Ms. Hostetler and others successfully negotiated a legislative change raising the age for mandatory retirement.)
Ms. Hostetler was adjunct professor of legal ethics at American University’s law school for several years and in addition has lectured on both legal ethics and administration of justice topics at Georgetown Law School, Catholic University, the University of the District of Columbia Law School, Indiana University Law School and Harvard Law School.
Ms. Hostetler has conducted a number of studies dealing with administration of justice topics, including:
- A 1986 Study with Recommendations for representation to unrepresented persons in Social Security and other mass justice federal agency proceedings for the Administrative Conference of the United States. The recommendations were adopted unanimously by the Conference. She also served on the Administrative Conference’s Committee to recommend model procedural rules for federal agency proceedings;
- An analysis of the projected legal aid lawyer needs for the twentieth century for President Johnson’s Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice;
- A 1970 analysis of nursing home laws in the District of Columbia for the National Council of Senior Citizens, portions of which subsequently formed the basis for a revision of the City Council’s nursing home code;
- A 1968 study of law and court procedures affecting the mental health of children and juveniles for the Judicial Conference of the D.C. Circuit and subsequently for President Johnson’s Commission on Mental Health of Children;
- A 1969 analysis of the national unemployment compensation laws and procedures with recommendations for legislation and administrative reform for the Urban Coalition;
- A 1964 analysis of the legal needs in the District of Columbia for the Family and Child Services nonprofit agency.
Ms. Hostetler has chaired or served on numerous judicial conference committees for the D.C. Circuit as well as for the District of Columbia Bar. She was for many years a member of the Bar’s and the Circuit’s committees on lawyer professional conduct and served on the Jordan Committee to study and revise the D.C. Bar’s legal ethics rules. She was a D.C. Bar delegate to the American Bar Association for several years and also served as Chair of the D.C. State Chapter of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation.
Ms. Hostetler is currently a member of the board of directors of the National Equal Justice Library at Georgetown Law School and was a member for many years of the National Housing Law Center in Oakland California. She also served as National Vice President of the Harvard Law School Association and was the first woman elected to be a class secretary in which post she has served continuously since 1960.
Ms. Hostetler’ s publications include:
- “The Poor and the Law chapter in Poverty as a Public Issue, ed. Seligman, Macmillan (Free Press) 1965.
- “Law and Poverty” chapter in Law and the Liberal Arts, ed. Broderick, Catholic University Press 1967.
- “Nonlawyer Assistance to Individuals in Federal Mass Justice Agencies: The Need for Improved Guidelines,” The Administrative Law Joumal, Vol. II, No. 4, Spring 1988.
- Remarks on the History of the Legal Services Movement, 5 UDC L. Rev. 263-270 2000.
- Bi-monthly column in District Lawyer, 1977-1981 as well as numerous bar articles, papers and studies on the delivery of legal services and other administration of justice topics in various bar association publications, 1964 to present.
Honors received include:
- 2001 Lever Award, District of Columbia Law Students in Court
- 2000 Three Guineas Fellowship, Harvard Law School
- 1999 Alan Barth Award, American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area
- 1993 Servant of Justice Award – the Legal Aid Society of Washington, D.C.
- 1986 Civil Rights Award – NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (Washington D.C. chapter)
Ms. Hostetler is married to James Hostetler who retired recently from the law firm of Kirland & Ellis. (Mr. Hostetler is a Principal of the Council for Excellence in Government, a co-founder of the national Appleseed Foundation that works for systemic legal and governmental reform, and has served on the board of directors for several local and national civic and charitable organizations.) The Hostetler’s only living son, Eric Hostetler, is Senior Attorney with the Department of Justice’s Lands Division.
For the past decade, Ms. Hostetler has focused considerable attention on the Randy Hostetler Living Room Music Fund which was established in 1996 in memory of her son, Randy Hostetler, a pianist and composer who died that year at the age of 32. The Fund operates an award winning interactive new music website and provides grants, commissions and seed money to young composers and new music groups in the District of Columbia and elsewhere. In the District of Columbia the Fund and Ms. Hostetler have sponsored an annual concert of new music by Washington Musica Viva, the resident ensemble for the Atlas Theater. Ms. Hostetler serves on the strategic planning committee of the American Composer Forum’s Washington, D.C. chapter. She is also a member of the board and the executive committee of New York’s Music at the Anthology (MATA) founded by the composer Phillip Glass and directed by two members of his Glass ensemble.