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New York LGBTQ Communities Receive Unprecedented Legal Support

Through Grant from The Paul Rapoport Foundation, Equal Justice Works Fellows to Provide Assistance for Communities’ Most Pressing Legal Needs

(May 9, 2013) Washington, D.C. – Funded by the last ever grant from The Paul Rapoport Foundation, Equal Justice Works® Fellows will work to address the legal needs of New York’s LGBTQ communities. The first of its kind, the 10-year commitment of $560,000 will sponsor five Paul Rapoport Fellowships, in which an LGBTQ lawyer of color will be selected once every two years to work with issues impacting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identified communities of color in New York State.

“We hope these fellowships will encourage LGBTQ lawyers of color to address and bring creative and innovative strategies to the pressing issues affecting LGBTQ communities of color,” said Board President Kimberleigh J. Smith. “LGBTQ communities of color are underserved and highly vulnerable, but lawyers from these communities often do not have the financial means to follow public interest law careers.”

Equal Justice Works has a history of supporting Fellows who work on behalf of LGBT populations, ensuring that equal rights are upheld for health care, employment, housing, immigration, domestic violence, and other issues. Established in 1986, Equal Justice Works is committed to and works tirelessly to promote equal access to justice and quality legal representation to all regardless of background or circumstance.

“We are proud to provide legal support for a population that historically has received very little,” said Equal Justice Works Executive Director David Stern. “We hope that in addressing some of the most serious legal needs of the New York LGBTQ communities, this fellowship will be a sign of greater things to come in the movement for equal rights for all.”

Scheduled to close in 2015, the Foundation has created the Paul Rapoport Fellowship to carry on the legacy of the late Paul Rapoport, an attorney who was a leading advocate for LGBTQ rights in New York City. Paul Rapoport was a founder of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center – two New York City LGBT organizations that have had a significant impact in the fight for equal civil rights. “With this fellowship,” said Stern, “the selected fellows will be able to continue this important work.”

The first Fellowship will be awarded in 2014. Fellows will be considered a part of their respective class of Equal Justice Works fellows and will receive annual training at the Equal Justice Works Leadership Development Training, as well as continuous advice and support from the Equal Justice Works staff. Recipients of this fellowship must be a practicing attorney who identify as LGBTQ and of color. Priority will be given to projects located within New York City.


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For additional information on The Paul Rapoport Foundation, see


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Equal Justice Works is the national leader in creating public interest opportunities for law students and lawyers.  Collaborating with the nation’s leading law schools, law firms, corporate legal departments and nonprofit organizations, Equal Justice Works offers a continuum of opportunities that provide the training and skills that enable attorneys to provide effective representation to underserved communities and causes.  Equal Justice Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  For additional information about Equal Justice Works, please visit