Equal Justice Works Names 76 Fellows in 2023 Class
/ Blog Post
76 public interest lawyers will spend the next two years advancing access to justice for underserved and underresourced communities across the United States.
The 2023 class of Fellows received sponsorship from 70 law firms, corporations, private foundations, and individual donors.
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 10, 2023—Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today named its 2023 class of Equal Justice Works Fellows. Each of the 76 law school graduates, in collaboration with a legal services organization, has designed a two-year Equal Justice Works Fellowship project to address the unmet legal needs of the community they will serve.
“It is a joy and privilege to welcome these passionate public service leaders who share our vision of equal access to justice for all,” said Verna Williams, Equal Justice Works CEO. “With access to legal aid out of reach for too many and longstanding legal protections continuing to remain in jeopardy, the work of these talented new lawyers—destined to make an impact in countless communities and our justice system—is more important than ever.”
Each year, Equal Justice Works selects a class of public interest lawyers who have designed unique projects in partnership with legal services organizations. These projects are funded by law firms, corporations, foundations, and individual supporters.
Selected from 318 applications, the 2023 class of Equal Justice Works Fellows includes graduates from 41 law schools who will work at 70 legal services organizations across 23 states and Washington, D.C. Among this year’s 70 sponsors are 25 leading law firms recognized in the Am Law 200 and 21 Fortune 500 corporations. One sponsor this year is longtime supporter Ropes & Gray, a law firm that has sponsored five Equal Justice Works Fellows and committed to sponsoring five more Fellows between now and 2033 through its Ropes Impact Fellowship fund.
“Ropes & Gray is proud of our longstanding relationship with Equal Justice Works and our support of its Fellows. We are especially proud this year to kick off the first ‘Ropes Impact Fellowship’,” said Chris Conniff, pro bono co-chair and partner at Ropes & Gray. “Equal Justice Works provides a platform for young lawyers to make significant changes in our communities and I look forward to watching [2023 Fellow] Alexis Picard’s proposal come to life and help so many young people in need. This focus complements Ropes & Gray’s mission to ‘practice with purpose’— a commitment to making a positive difference for our clients, our communities, and our own people.”
The 2023 class of Fellows will take on projects that address a range of access-to-justice issues. Some of these projects include:
- Nketiah Berko (he/him) will provide legal advocacy and representation to Black residents in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area at risk of losing family homes because of unclear or encumbered titles with his host organization, National Consumer Law Center. Nketiah, a graduate of Yale Law School, is sponsored by The Rossotti Foundation.
- Talia Kamran will be hosted by Brooklyn Defender Services, pursuing a project that will provide representation to Brooklyn residents whose technology has been seized by the New York City Police Department (NYPD), challenge NYPD’s practice of mining data from technology in custody, and develop policy to regulate the forfeiture process. Talia, a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, is sponsored by Venture Justice Fund.
- Samantha Pfaff-Goldstein (she/her), a graduate of Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, will be hosted at Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project in Arizona, where she will protect immigrant youth caught in the child-welfare and juvenile delinquency systems in Arizona from the deportation pipeline. Samantha’s Fellowship is cosponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP and Western Union. Samantha is one of the 201 Fellows since 1999 sponsored by Greenberg Traurig.
- Alexis Picard (she/her) will be hosted by the Roger Baldwin Foundation of ACLU of Illinois, where she will use litigation, policy advocacy, and media campaigns to challenge unconstitutional conditions affecting youth in county-run juvenile detention facilities in rural Illinois. Alexis, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is sponsored by Ropes & Gray LLP.
- Gabriella Sayger (she/her), will help to support people in recovery from opioid use disorder in rural central West Virginia through direct advocacy and outreach to create referral partnerships with local clinics and Family Treatment and Adult Drug Court programs with her host organization, Legal Aid of West Virginia. Gabriella, a graduate of Appalachian School of Law, is cosponsored by Kirkland & Ellis LLP and GE Healthcare.
- Megan Toomer (she/her), a graduate of Emory University School of Law will be hosted at Southern Center for Human Rights, where she will provide parole advocacy for low-income incarcerated people before the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles to ensure that parole-eligible people have representation to relay their testimonies. Megan’s Fellowship is cosponsored by King & Spalding LLP and The Clorox Company Foundation.
Over the past three decades, Equal Justice Works has awarded more than 2,300 postgraduate fellowships to public service leaders committed to ensuring equal access to justice for underserved communities.
Equal Justice Works Fellowship programs are designed to effect change in communities and throughout our country by mobilizing Fellows to work on key issue areas such as disaster resilience; safe, fair, and affordable housing; and crime victims’ rights, as well as by expanding the ability of legal services organizations to design and implement unique projects responding to emerging needs. On average, 85% of Equal Justice Works Fellows remain in public service positions, continuing to help fulfill our nation’s promise of equal justice for all.
Click here for a full list of the 2023 Equal Justice Works Fellows, host organizations, and sponsors.
About Equal Justice Works
Equal Justice Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that creates opportunities for lawyers to transform their passion for equal justice into a lifelong commitment to public service. As the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, Equal Justice Works brings together an extensive network of law students, lawyers, nonprofit legal aid organizations, and supporters to promote public service and inspire a lifelong commitment to equal justice.
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