The Law Department is proud to announce that three of our attorneys have been selected as recipients of 2023 awards from the International Municipal Lawyers Association


Schaundra Oliver 

Recipient of the James H. Epps III Award for Longevity of Service to a Community 

IMLA established this award to honor the memory of James H. Epps, III by recognizing local government attorneys who have distinguished themselves by years of service to the same community. Jim Epps served his hometown of Johnson City, Tennessee for over 40 years as its attorney. He also served IMLA in many capacities, including as its President. He was a consummate gentleman and was respected for his kindness as well as his legal skill. This award seeks to recognize those local government lawyers who have been able to persevere through changes in government over a period of at least 30 years. This award is a milestone award that recognizes the significant achievement of having the political and legal skills necessary to represent the same community for at least 30 years.

Schaundra Oliver is a Divisional Deputy City Solicitor in the City of Philadelphia Law Department, where she has been employed as an attorney for the past 33 years. Schaundra is a graduate of Clark University and Villanova University School of Law and began her legal career as an Assistant City Solicitor in the Health and Human Services Unit of the Law Department. In that capacity, she represented the Philadelphia Department of Human Services in child welfare matters and the Department of Public Health in involuntary, civil, mental health commitments. 

Schaundra was promoted to Deputy City Solicitor and focused her practice solely on child welfare matters following the restructuring of her unit. As a Deputy, Schaundra handled complex and high-profile matters.  As a seasoned attorney, she also mentored junior attorneys and trained attorneys, social workers and others in child welfare law and practice.  Over the years, she was invited to speak at numerous engagements, including the judicial bench-bar conference and on behalf of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Women in the Profession Committee.  

Schaundra was again promoted to Divisional Deputy City Solicitor, her current position in which she is a member of the unit’s management team.  She supervises 10 attorneys with various levels of experience, and works with government leaders, the Court and other stakeholders in Philadelphia’s child welfare system.  Schaundra is a career child welfare attorney, who has dedicated her professional life to serving Philadelphia’s vulnerable children and families.  

Schaundra’s dedication to Philadelphia’s children and citizens in need has extended to her personal life.  In her spare time, she has instilled the value of community service in her daughter, and they volunteer around the city preparing packs of clothing for needy children at Cradles to Crayons, preparing nutritious food for the sick and shut-in at Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA) and running/walking at the Parkway Run to raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer, to name a few.  


Vernette Dow 

Recipient of the Burk E. (Buck) Delventhal Legal Advocacy Award

This award honors the life and legacy of Burk E. Delventhal, known to all as Buck. Buck served as a Deputy City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco for almost 50 years from 1970 to 2019. He carried a legal library in his head and the history of San Francisco and its community in his heart. His distinguished legal career is summarized in the award description on our website. The award recognizes the work of an attorney of an IMLA member in legal advocacy and education who has demonstrated superior professional skills in advancing the interests of the nominee’s clients and of local government generally, and who, through litigation, legislative work, and educational efforts, has advanced the health, safety, and welfare of the community or communities the attorney has served.

Vernette Dow is a Divisional Deputy City Solicitor in the Health and Adult Services Unit of the City of Philadelphia where, for more that 20 years, she has represented the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbilities Services, the Department of Public Health, and the Office of Homeless Services.  She considers it a great honor to be able to serve in Philadelphia, the City that she has always called home.   

She previously served as an Assistant and Deputy City Solicitor representing the Department of Human Services where she handled child abuse and neglect cases for more than a decade and trained numerous social workers.   

Vernette is a graduate of LaSalle University, Temple University School of Law and Palmer Theological Seminary.  Prior to joining the City of Philadelphia Law Department, Vernette served as a judicial law clerk in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia and as Assistant General Counsel for the United States Department of Human Services.   

 She has served as a volunteer chaplain at Simpson Nursing Home, and as pastor of Little Creek, Roby, Sollers, and Union UMC.   She has served on the Peninsula-Delaware Conference Board of Trustees and the Conference on Race and Religion.  A community servant at heart, among other  activities, she has assisted at Code Purple shelters, mentored college students, participated in clothing drives, planned Easter Egg Hunts, and is married to Rev. Rudolph H. White, Jr.   


Desjeneé Davis 

Recipient of the Daniel J. Curtin Young Public Lawyer Award

This award is established to honor the memory of Daniel J. Curtin, Jr. by recognizing a new practitioner who exhibits those qualities that made Dan one of the truly remarkable lawyers working on behalf of public clients. In addition to the traditional qualities of excellence in the practice of law, the award seeks to recognize a public law practitioner who has provided outstanding service to the public and who possesses an exemplary reputation in the legal community, the highest of ethical standards and who revels in maintaining a life that balances a passion for professional excellence and the joy of family and friends. In addition, the award seeks to recognize a person who exhibits qualities of openness and humility coupled with a sincere concern for the interests of others, including the professional development of newer practitioners. The award is authorized by Article VI, Section 6 of the IMLA Bylaws.

Desjeneé Davis is an Assistant City Solicitor in the Code and Public Nuisance Litigation Unit where she represents the Department of Licenses and Inspections and the Department of Public Health, amongst other City entities, in both affirmative and defensive matters before the Court Common Pleas, Philadelphia Municipal Court, Tax Review Board and the Board of Licenses and Inspections.  Desjeneé is also a member for the Law Department’s DEI and Professional Development Committees. 

Prior to joining the Law Department in 2021, Desjeneé worked as a Paralegal for the Defender Association of Philadelphia and as a Judicial Intern to the Honorable Theodore A. McKee of the United States Third Circuit Court. In addition to her work with the Law Department, Desjeneé is an Adjunct Professor at Drexel’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law and serves as the Vice Chair of the Black Law Alumni Association of Kline. Additionally, she has been named to The Legal Intelligencer’s Young Lawyer Editorial Board and is also a Board Observer for the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, a death penalty and juvenile life without parole resource center for defense attorneys and defendants. Recently, Desjeneé has been elected as President-Elect of the National Bar Association, Women Lawyers Division Philadelphia Chapter. She is also an active member of the Philadelphia Bar Association and The Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia. 

Desjeneé continues to give back to and motivate the young community through her role as a Dance Teacher, Mock Trial Coach for the Philadelphia Academy Charter High School Mock Trial team and Mentor for Drexel’s Stephen and Sandra Sheller Diversity Pipeline Program, a program that strives to advance diversity and inclusion in the legal profession via free workshops, classes and networking programs to underrepresented undergraduate students. Additionally, Desjeneé conducts an annual workshop on the topics of authenticity, positive self-talk, self-affirmation, and advice professional development for the young Black and Brown girls of the Girls on a Mission With Ambitions non-profit organization.

 Desjeneé graduated (magna cum laude) from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in both Criminal Justice and Psychology and her J.D. from Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law.