Ariana Brill

  • Hosted by Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem
  • Sponsored by Anonymous
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
  • Issue area Children/Youth, Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Ariana worked to improve outcomes for Harlem youth involved in the criminal legal system by expanding access to special education, disability, and mental health services through direct legal representation and policy advocacy.

Young people in Harlem who are involved in the criminal legal system have no right to civil legal counsel and, as a result, are often unable to access or enforce their right to special education, disability, and mental health services. This issue is particularly pressing given that an estimated 75% of youth involved in the juvenile legal system have disabilities and 65-70% of youth who have been arrested have mental health conditions. This project served to fill a gap in services by providing youth with greater opportunities to advance in school and accomplish their goals.

Ariana’s previous work with system-involved youth—who faced significant challenges when their disabilities or mental health needs were not adequately addressed—motivated her to undertake this project. Ariana is passionate about ensuring that all youth with unique and complex needs have a meaningful opportunity to achieve their goals.

Fellowship Highlights

During her two-year Fellowship, Ariana:

  • Provided legal representation and advice to youth and families in over 200 instances to address issues related to special education services, school discipline, education rights in detention centers and jails, rights of youth experiencing homelessness, and more
  • During the COVID-19 Pandemic, provided representation and advice to address issues related to lack of access to educational services, remote special education evaluations and services, informal suspensions and school discipline, and more
  • Collaborated with attorneys and non-profit organizations to address the systemic challenges that youth with disabilities face in accessing educational services 

Next Steps

Ariana will continue working at the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem as an education attorney. As a staff attorney, Ariana will expand her representation to clients across all practices.

Meet Other Fellows Like Ariana

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Hasti Anderson

Host: Florida's Children First

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP, The Florida Bar Foundation

Lori Turner

Host: Roger Baldwin Foundation of ACLU of Illinois

Sponsor: McDermott Will & Emery LLP

Renee Erline

Host: Children's Law Center of DC

Sponsor: The Morrison & Foerster Foundation

Kathleen Ford

Host: Sacramento Child Advocates, Inc.

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP