Equal Justice Works Announces 2017 Class of Fellows

/ Press Release



  • The class of 2017 is the largest class of Equal Justice Works Fellows since the program was launched 25 years ago in 1992.
  • Surge among recent law graduates interested in pursuing public interest law careers.
  • Seventy-seven public interest law Fellows will work for two years across the United States to serve communities including veterans, immigrants, people with disabilities, and refugee children.

Washington, D.C., May 23, 2017 – Equal Justice Works today named its 2017 class of Equal Justice Works Fellows. Seventy-seven recent law school graduates, the largest class of Equal Justice Works Fellows ever, will launch their public interest law careers through this two-year Fellowship.

These Fellows were selected from over 450 applications, which marks a 25% increase over the number of applications from the previous year. Each applicant teams up with a host organization, to apply for an Equal Justice Works Fellowship by designing a unique project to address an unmet legal need. Fellows in the class of 2017 will be working across the country to serve communities including veterans, immigrants, refugees, children with special education needs, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, minorities, and victims of abuse.

The Equal Justice Works Fellowship Class of 2017 includes graduates from 41 law schools who will serve at 68 nonprofit legal services organizations thanks to 75 law firm, corporate, and foundation sponsors, as well as hundreds of individual supporters.

“I am so excited to announce our record-breaking 2017 class of Equal Justice Works Fellows. It is hard not to be awestruck by the incredible volume and caliber of applicants and their entrepreneurship,” said David Stern, Executive Director, Equal Justice Works. “I am inspired by the ambitious and innovative projects proposed by our 2017 Fellows and can’t wait for them to get to work this fall. But for every amazing Fellow selected, we turned away many other equally qualified candidates who wanted to devote themselves to bring justice to under-served communities and causes. That’s why I am motivated to grow our Fellowship program so that we can serve even more communities across our country and enable even more new lawyers to launch their careers in public interest law.”

The 2017 Fellows, along with their host organizations, have created projects to address a diverse array of legal issues serving communities across our Nation. Examples of the 2017 Fellow projects include:

  • Jessica Podesva will serve people with disabilities by advocating for necessary and respectful health care in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act while hosted at Greater Boston Legal Services. Jessica is a graduate of New England School of and is co-sponsored by Biogen and Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, L.L.P.
  • Alexander Chen will champion the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming youth through litigation and policy advocacy in schools, health care, and juvenile facilities at the National Center for Lesbian Rights in California. Alex is a graduate of Harvard Law School and is co-sponsored by and Baker McKenzie.
  • Jordan Chisolm will provide free legal services to minority and immigrant entrepreneurs in low-income Miami neighborhoods to strengthen businesses and revitalize communities with Legal Services of Greater Miami, Jordan graduated from New York University School of Law and is co-sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP, and the Florida Bar Foundation.
  • Danica Gonzalveswill help veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury to get the critical medical treatment and disability pay they deserve. Danica graduated from George Washington University Law School and will be hosted by The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program in Washington, DC. She is co-sponsored by AT&T, and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.
  • Gelila Selassie will improve the quality of life for seniors in North Carolina through legal representation in health care access and elder abuse cases while hosted at Legal Services of Southern Piedmont. Gelila is a graduate of Wake Forest University School of Law and is sponsored by Pfizer, Inc.

Launched in 1992, the privately funded Equal Justice Works Fellowship Program is the largest postgraduate legal Fellowship program in the country, with 125 Fellows currently working on two-year projects targeting the most crucial needs of the communities they serve. The Fellowships are funded by the generous support of law firms, corporations, foundations, and individual donors. Many of the law firms and corporate legal departments utilize their sponsorship to expand pro bono opportunities, encouraging legal and non-legal staff to help provide needed services to those who could not otherwise afford them. 28 of these Fellowships are being sponsored by funding partnerships between law firms and their corporate clients.

Click here for a full list of the 2017 Equal Justice Works Fellows, host organizations, and sponsors.

About Equal Justice Works Equal Justice Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a just society by mobilizing the next generation of lawyers committed to equal justice. In collaboration 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. Visit www.equaljusticeworks.orgfor more information.

Sarah Lackritz
Director of Marketing and Communications
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 202-466-3686

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow