Equal Justice Works Blog

Alumna Kathryn Smolinski (’11) Leads Legal Advocacy Effort for Low-Income Cancer Patients in Detroit Area

October 1, 2014


2011 Equal Justice Works alumna, Kathryn Smolinski, is currently the director of the Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer Clinic at Wayne State University Law School. In this capacity, Kathryn oversees the clinic’s efforts in providing legal services, information, and education to low-income cancer patients living the Detroit metropolitan area. The clinic grew out of Kathryn’s two-year Fellowship project co-sponsored by Pfizer Inc, Jackson Lewis LLP, and Kaye Scholer LLP – a medical-legal partnership that helped ensure cancer patients received health insurance, public benefits, and end-of life planning counsel. 

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Gonzalo Serrano (’14) Returns to the Metroplex and Puts His Passion to Work

September 24, 2014

2014 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Gonzalo Serrano’s work advocating against wage theft among low-wage immigrants was profiled in the McKinney Courier-Gazette last Friday.  Gonzalo will be serving low-wage immigrant workers in the Dallas/Fort Worth region of Texas at the Equal Justice Center starting this fall.
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Marina Pantchenko (’13) Represents Medi-Cal Applicants in Lawsuit Against State of CA

September 23, 2014

Equal Justice Works Fellow Marina Pantchenko (’13), co-sponsored by Hewlett-Packard and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, is expanding health care access to indigent refugees in Alameda County, CA. Marina and the Bay Area Legal Aid (her host organization), along with several other legal aid groups, filed a suit against the state of California on behalf of individuals applying to the California Medical Assistance Program (Medi-Cal).

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2012 Equal Justice Works Fellow Ashley Grant Contributes to Report Highlighting Unique Needs of Over-age Middle Schoolers

September 17, 2014


With the support of sponsor Arnold & Porter LLP, Equal Justice Works Fellow  Ashley Grant (’12) is working at the Advocates for Children of New York (AFC) to close the justice gap of over-aged middle school students.  As part of her Fellowship project, Ashley contributed to a major AFC report, Sixteen Going on Seventh Grade: Over-Age Students in New York City Middle Schools

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2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow Michaela Wallin Helps Strike Law Targeting Domestic Violence Victims

September 16, 2014


Equal Justice Works Fellow Michaela Wallin (’13) who is currently serving domestic violence victims at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Women’s Rights Project, worked with a team of ACLU lawyers to strike down a law that targeted domestic violence victims for eviction.  Her fellowship is made possible by co-sponsors Morgan Stanley and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP.

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Hispanic Heritage Month: Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Practicing Service with the Law

September 11, 2014

Next week marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which takes place from September 15 -October 15.  Equal Justice Works honors the significant contributions of Hispanic Americans, including change makers such as Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Earlier this year, Justice Sotomayor gave remarks at Georgetown University’s Bernstein Symposium. Watch the video below to hear how her career path was influenced by establishing relationships, finding meaning in public service, and overcoming her fears.

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Join a Community of Public Interest Lawyers Across the Nation!

September 3, 2014

Are you a recent law student or a lawyer seeking a public interest career? Consider applying to the Equal Justice Works Fellowship program and join a community of lawyers making a difference across the nation!

Equal Justice Works is now accepting applications for the 2015 Fellowship class; the deadline is September 17, 2014. For over 25 years, Equal Justice Works has provided paid public interest fellowships to law school graduates so they can provide critical legal assistance to underserved populations. Our legal Fellows work on a wide range of issues, including domestic violence, homelessness, community economic development, immigration, civil rights, juvenile justice, employment rights, access to health care, consumer fraud, and environmental justice. Check out the testimonials below from some of our alumni:

Issue area: Immigrant Populations/Minorities
Hosted by Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago 
Chicago, Illinois 
Sponsored by The Chicago Bar Foundation


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Gabriella Barbosa (’13) Advocates for English Learners in Los Angeles

August 29, 2014

This guest blog post is written by 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Gabriella Barbosa, who is currently working at Public Counsel. Her Fellowship is sponsored by The Morrison & Foerster Foundation.

“There is a no greater challenge facing the Los Angeles Unified School District than to dramatically improve the academic performance and graduation rates of English Learners."–John Deasy, Superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).


Photo (Above): 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow Gabriella Barbosa spoke at a LAUSD Board Meeting, advocating for more educational services on behalf of English Learners.

As a former public school teacher in Los Angeles, and first generation American, I have seen up close the hurdles that students with limited English proficiency face in public schools. Now I am using my legal training at Public Counsel to pursue my dream job: helping students and their families pursue their educations and helping erase the history of discrimination and lost opportunities that they have faced in schools.

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Corey Prachniak (’13) Advocates for Equal Access to Healthcare for the LGBT Community

August 20, 2014

2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow Corey Prachniak addresses healthcare barriers at the Whitman-Walker Health clinic in Washington, DC; his Fellowship is sponsored by Steptoe & Johnson LLP.  Below Corey shares about how his Fellowship project helps ensure that the LGBT community receives the healthcare services they deserve.

As a child, I remember my mother – who couldn’t afford health insurance – sobbing after a mere phone consultation with my pediatrician cost her a day’s work of pay.  My parents pushed me to be the first in our family to go to college in large part because they wanted me to get a good job, meaning one that included health benefits.

At that time, I imagined society’s healthcare problems could be solved overnight if everyone had access to insurance.  Similarly, as a closeted queer youth, I thought that same-sex marriage – if I ever lived to see it – would mark complete equality for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.

Right: 2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow Corey Prachniak presented at the Salud LGBTT summit in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on the need for policies that improve LGBT healthcare access for marginalized groups.

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AmeriCorps Celebrates 20th Anniversary: A Tribute to our AmeriCorps Legal Fellows Providing Disaster Relief

August 14, 2014

AmeriCorps—a long-term partner of Equal Justice Works—celebrates its 20th anniversary this year!  As part of this milestone, The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is observing August 2014 as Disaster Services month. 

Since 2013, Equal Justice Works has deployed four AmeriCorps Legal Fellows to provide critical legal assistance to individuals impacted by natural disasters, including the tornado in Missouri, Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Hurricane Sandy in New York, and the BP Oil spill in the gulf.  The blog posts below highlight the disaster relief work of some of our AmeriCorps Legal Fellows.  Thank you to AmeriCorps and CNCS for your continued support of Equal Justice Works.

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