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Melissa Ader

2015, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Melissa Ader

Melissa Ader

Name of Host Organization: The Legal Aid Society
City, State: New York, New York
Issue area: Workers' Rights
Sponsors: AIG, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

The Project

Melissa will provide direct representation and community education to low-income New Yorkers with criminal records to combat employment barriers and facilitate successful reentry.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
More than 25 percent of U.S. adults--approximately 65 million people--have criminal records. These individuals confront huge barriers to obtaining employment, especially if they are poor. In New York City, a criminal record reduces the likelihood of getting a callback or job offer for low-wage work by nearly 50 percent. New York provides strong anti-discrimination protections to people with criminal records; however, there has only been limited enforcement of these protections to date. This project will break down barriers to employment by enforcing New York’s strong anti-discrimination laws and empowering New Yorkers with criminal records to defend their rights and obtain stable employment.
The Right Person For This Project

Melissa is the right person for the project because:
• She is committed to advocating for the rights of people with criminal records to find and retain jobs
• She has extensive experience working with low-income clients to protect their employment rights
• Her work as a member of Yale Law School’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic and as a law clerk at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has provided her with the tools to be an effective litigator

Plans For First Six Months of Fellowship
In the first six months, Melissa will:
• Develop knowledge of substantive law and procedures
• Provide direct representation to clients
• Prepare community education materials
• Conduct trainings for pro bono partner attorneys and paralegals
• Conduct legal clinics at community-based organizations