Equal Justice Works Announces 2022-2024 National Advisory Committee Members

Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today announced the newest members of its National Advisory Committee.

Formed in 2003, the National Advisory Committee (NAC) is a diverse group of  law students and  law school professionals who serve as Equal Justice Works ambassadors within the law school and legal services communities. NAC members extend the reach of Equal Justice Works initiatives by providing leadership, feedback, and outreach assistance to support the organization’s mission to create opportunities for lawyers to transform their passion for public service into a lifelong commitment to equal justice.

“We are excited to welcome these new members to the National Advisory Committee,” said Aoife Delargy Lowe, vice president of law school engagement & advocacy at Equal Justice Works. “These new NAC members will identify opportunities and provide guidance for how Equal Justice Works can best serve the law student community and law students more broadly.”

NAC members serve two-year staggered terms, and each year we welcome new members to replace those who have completed their terms of service. This year, the Committee welcomes four law students and three law school professionals. The newest members of the 2022-2024 National Advisory Committee include:

Law Students:

  • Bruce Leal, American University Washington College of Law
  • Nicole Jansma, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Leslie Espiricueta, St. Mary’s University School of Law
NAC 2022-2024 Law Students
Photo of the 2022-2024 National Advisory Committee law student members. (L–R:) Leslie Espiricueta, Bruce Leal, and Nicole Jansma.

Law School Professionals:

  • Marni Lennon, University of Miami School of Law
  • Miguel Willis, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
  • Huy Nguyen, University of Washington School of Law
NAC 2022-2024 LSP
Photo of the 2022-2024 National Advisory Committee law school professional members. (L–R:) Huy Nguyen, Marni Lennon, Miguel Willis.

 “I am looking forward to serving on the committee because I will have the opportunity to increase the knowledge law students have about public interest work,” said new NAC member Leslie Espiricueta. “Serving underprivileged communities when one has the privilege of a law school education is a very meaningful way to give back and I am hoping to inform law students on how this career field can look.”

 I am looking forward to serving on the committee because I will have the opportunity to increase the knowledge law students have about public interest work.

Leslie Espiricueta /
Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee

The NAC will host its annual meeting virtually on Wednesday, August 10. At the meeting, members will brainstorm how to best expand access and knowledge of public interest law in their respective regions.

For more information about the National Advisory Committee members and to see a current list of members visit here.

Photo of Rochelle McCain

Rochelle McCain, executive director of the professional development office and co-director of the externship program at University of Pittsburgh School of Law, recently chatted with Equal Justice Works about becoming a member of the National Advisory Committee, and her work helping law students cultivate their public service passions. 

Earlier this year, you were selected to serve on the Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee (NAC). What motivated you to apply to join the NAC? How does your work as a law school professional inform your role on the committee?

In my life, I have always sought to do everything with intentionality to positively impact, and for the benefit of, others, not solely myself. To that end, I try to identify opportunities to advance and facilitate support of the public good, committing fully and actively. After years of working in my law school community, I resolved that the timing was right to give back to Equal Justice Works—an organization whose mission I share and that does so much nationally to support generations of public interest leaders.

I hope that my skills and experiences, coupled with the relationships I have developed as a law school professional, can support the organization’s efforts in serving the law school community and law students more broadly. In representing the Mid-Atlantic region, my work as a law school professional deeply informs my role on the NAC. I readily draw upon my expertise and experiences with colleagues, students, and alumni, to provide a perspective that is uniquely attuned to the challenges and opportunities the region encounters within the public interest space.

In your role at University of Pittsburgh School of Law (PittLaw), you counsel students and alumni on all aspects of job searching and career development. What are some of the biggest concerns that your students have expressed about pursuing their public service passions?

Some of the most pressing concerns raised by students stem from the job search process itself. Many often share concerns/uneasiness regarding the process itself of finding a public interest position. In particular, the constraints found inherent in the public interest hiring process versus that of the private sector’s recruiting process are often raised. What further complicates the job search process is that some may be geographically limited or focused on niche interest areas that may be challenging to break into at the onset of their careers, which many perceive as limiting their options. For some, pursuing a public interest career path may be one less taken among their peer group, so they express feelings of isolation, and some even question their ambitions.

In addition, students regularly worry about sustaining meaningful careers while navigating external financial pressures/considerations they face. Recognizing that public interest sector salaries are substantially lower than many private-sector options, many students are conflicted by their very real financial constraints, whether due to familial obligations or student loan debt. While many public interest employers can provide great substantive experiences, some contend with financial constraints that bear out in their ability to offer paid summer opportunities and competitive entry-level attorney salaries. This environment can often make those interested in pursuing the path restricted from doing so. In the wake of continued uncertainty surrounding the future public service loan forgiveness and economic challenges of our times, some contemplate whether their passions are enough to make the pathway a viable option.

What steps can law schools take to remedy those concerns?

Law schools are well-positioned to think creatively about how they can mitigate some of the “pain points” in the public interest job search process for law students. For many, it may simply start with identifying the public interest students and creating a support system/cohort to ensure they are supported to face the unique challenges of a public interest search. In my experience, I have found my students respond well to having information so they can make informed decisions and put a plan in place. To accomplish this, it may require law schools to create resources, seek innovative regional collaborations with other law schools and/or public interest employers, and broader amplification of existing public interest career resources (including PSJD.org and especially Equal Justice Works).

But, not every law school has the financial wherewithal to significantly reduce or eliminate the financial barriers its students face due to a broader operational budgetary concerns. So, law schools may want to think resourcefully about their fundraising strategies and how to include public interest giving, the establishment of summer funding resources, sponsorship of a post-graduate fellowship program, development of a loan repayment assistance program, etc.

Many law schools already strive to support their public interest students but some concerns and challenges may not be easily addressed by individual institutions and may require a concerted effort by the broader profession and industry.

You also manage the judicial clerkship program at Pitt Law. What advice do you share with students who are interested in securing judicial clerkships or exploring government (federal, state, and local) opportunities?

One of the biggest nuggets of advice I share with my students interested in pursuing clerkships and government opportunities is not to self-select out of the process. While students should think intentionally about whether a particular pathway is for them, due to the competitive nature of the process of both, coupled with the extensive applications, some students may be inclined to opt-out despite being highly credentialed and competitive for the role.  Along the same lines, those that overcome the initial desire to opt-out may be discouraged by the process, especially if they experience rejection early on.

While law school is certainly competitive and grades are one of the objective factors by which employers evaluate candidates, many do not base their decisions solely on this factor. I urge students to try to do as well as they can during law school, but that is not limited to academic success. Students can also benefit as well by taking time to build relationships with others in the profession, take advantage of opportunities for experiential learning (clinics, externships, practicums, work experiences in the field, extracurricular activities such as student organizations and trial teams/competitions, pro bono) to round out applications and reflect practice readiness, and communicate with our office and faculty members as we may be in a position to support their aspirations and provide additional guidance.

I can attest to watching students shatter the “glass ceilings” placed upon them and their potential by themselves and others. With some savvy, support, hard work, connections, guidance, and understanding of their expectations and the profession, quite a bit is possible. The search can be a marathon with twists and turns so patience and perseverance is key along with a great support system.

Pitt Law has a pro bono recognition program for law students who engage in significant amounts of public service work, without academic credit or financial compensation. Why is it important for law students to take part in public service activities? What are some ways students can become involved in pro bono work on campus and in the community?

As members of the legal profession, we possess unique skills to advance and benefit the greater good. Pro bono is an obligation of our profession, as stewards of law. The duty is not just one solely owned by students and attorneys within the public interest sector to bear but for us all to share in regardless of our chosen practice pathways. By understanding and leaning into this duty early on, many reduce any apprehension around pro bono engagement and may increase the likelihood of continued pro bono engagement throughout practice.

Pro bono can also provide broader benefits to law students personally. Beyond fulfilling this call, many law students are able dabble and explore a variety of practice areas, gain practical experience and put the skills learned in law school to the test, and work collaboratively with practitioners. Students can see and be involved with “lawyering in action” with real problems, challenges, and consequences.

Students can find various ways to get involved in pro bono work on campus and in the community. Interested students should think about starting small by just committing to the idea. Once they have done so, they can often begin within their law school community. Many law school staff and faculty members are involved directly with pro bono efforts and welcome having students involved, especially if there is no dedicated office or point of contact at the institution to support pro bono. At Pitt Law, one of my colleagues works closely with students and the community to identify service opportunities. Students can also engage in pro bono by galvanizing around issues important to them and addressing areas of direct and immediate need. Organizations like Equal Justice Works can serve as a platform to engage. Additionally, law students can work within law student organizations to engage in established service projects. And broadly, some bar associations have pro bono coordinators or centers that support legal pro bono that may be willing to partner and serve as a nexus between community organizations and students.

To learn more about our National Advisory Committee, visit here.

Pro bono is an obligation of our profession, as stewards of law. The duty is not just one solely owned by students and attorneys within the public interest sector to bear but for us all to share in regardless of our chosen practice pathways.

Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today announced the newest members of its National Advisory Committee.

Formed in 2003, the National Advisory Committee (NAC) is a diverse group of eight law students and eight law school professionals who serve as Equal Justice Works ambassadors within the law school and legal services communities. NAC members extend the reach of Equal Justice Works initiatives by providing leadership, feedback, and outreach assistance to support the organization’s mission to create opportunities for lawyers to transform their passion for public service into a lifelong commitment to equal justice.

“Equal Justice Works is thrilled to welcome our new National Advisory Committee members,” said Aoife Delargy Lowe, vice president of law school engagement & advocacy at Equal Justice Works. “These passionate leaders will work together to develop new ways to champion public service on law school campuses across the nation and encourage more law students to pursue their public interest goals through an Equal Justice Works Fellowship program.”

NAC members serve two-year staggered terms—this year, four students and six law school professionals will join the Committee to replace members who have completed their terms of service. The newest members of the 2021-2023 National Advisory Committee include:

Law Students:

  • Jackie Hanzok, Washburn University School of Law
  • Samantha Beauchamp, Suffolk University Law School
  • Esther Ko, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School
  • Ella Russell, George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School
Photo of 2021-2023 National Advisory Committee law student members. L–R: Jackie Hanzok, Samantha Beauchamp, Esther Ko, Ella Russell.

Law School Professionals:

  • Rhonda DeCambre, North Carolina Central University School of Law
  • Elyse Diamond, Pace University School of Law
  • Susan Galazen, Mitchell Hamline School of Law
  • Trevi Grant, Arizona State University, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
  • Rochelle R. McCain, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
  • Ashli Tomisich, University of Wyoming College of Law
Photo of 2021-2023 National Advisory Committee law school professional members. L–R: Rhonda DeCambre, Elyse Diamond, Susan Galazen, Trevi Grant, Rochelle R. McCain, Ashli Tomisich.

The current list of NAC members is available here.

“One of the greatest strengths I associate with Equal Justice Works is its ability to inspire, recognize, galvanize, and support law students who aspire to contribute to the public interest legal community,” said new NAC Member Rochelle R. McCain from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. “To serve as a member of the National Advisory Committee, I have the opportunity to impact this important and necessary work by joining in this mission nationally.”

One of the greatest strengths I associate with Equal Justice Works is its ability to inspire, recognize, galvanize, and support law students who aspire to contribute to the public interest legal community.

Rochelle R. McCain /
Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee

The NAC will host its annual meeting virtually in August 2021. At the meeting, members will brainstorm how to best expand access and knowledge of public interest law in their respective regions.

If you are interested in joining the National Advisory Committee or would like more information, please contact [email protected].

###

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.

Claire O’Brien is an associate director of the career center at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri.

At Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Claire O’Brien advises students pursuing a variety of careers, including careers in public service.

In conversation with Catherine Williams, former marketing and communications assistant at Equal Justice Works, Claire discussed what motivated her to join the Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee (NAC) and how her work as a law school professional informs her role as a member of the committee.

“I was working with a student who was heavily involved in the public interest community at Washington University and had worked in public interest internships for two summers. She saw the advertisement for the NAC application come up and recommended the position to me. As soon as I spoke with the student, I realized that this would be a perfect fit,” said Claire.

As part of her work as associate director of the career center, Claire helps students identify and cultivate their public service passions throughout law school.

“It’s one thing to learn torts, evidence, or criminal law in the classroom—but you’re shielded from how the law actually looks in the field. I think when you are out in your community and interacting with people who have real legal problems, there is nothing that can replace that experience,” said Claire.

In addition to discussing her role at Washington University School of Law, Claire spoke about why it is important for law students to get involved in pro bono work, how law schools can help create more public service opportunities for law students, and the many resources that Equal Justice Works provides for law students. 

To learn more about our National Advisory Committee, visit here.

Photo of Chantel Matikke

Chantel Matikke, a law student at Lincoln Memorial University, Duncan School of Law and a member of the National Advisory Committee (NAC), recently chatted with Equal Justice Works about serving on her campus and in the community, and shares advice for students interested in becoming public interest leaders at their schools.

You have a clear passion for public interest law as shown by your many volunteer experiences in the city of Knoxville. What inspired you to become a public interest leader on campus and in the community? 

My passion for public service was first sparked as a young child and continued to grow throughout my upbringing. My parents often modeled their high values of serving others, and their examples have spurred me on to pursue public interest work on my law school campus and in my community.

Between participating in the Knoxville Bar Association’s Diversity in the Profession Event and Serving your law school’s Black Law Student Association, you have been a tireless advocate for increasing diversity in the legal community. What does it mean to be diverse (defined in the context of the work you’ve done within the community and law school community) and what steps can the public interest community take to better embrace diversity? 

I think diversity is a dynamic, multi-faceted concept. In my particular context, pursuing diversity has involved education, training, building authentic relationships, having poignant conversations, and holding individuals, institutions, and organizations that claim to prioritize diversity accountable. I think practicing intentionality is a critical component for the public interest community to embrace diversity.

Photo of the 2019–2020 National Advisory Committee

One of the ways that you serve on your campus is through the Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee. As a member representing the South region, what are some of your responsibilities?

As a member representing the South region my responsibilities include championing the mission of Equal Justice Works to “create opportunities for lawyers to transform their passion for equal justice into a lifelong commitment to public service.” I primarily do this by promoting and sharing Equal Justice Works resources and events on my campus. I also encourage my colleagues to pursue public interest opportunities like one of Equal Justice Works law student programs and/or postgraduate programs. I hope to continue developing new ways to champion public service on my campus and throughout the region.

What are some of the biggest concerns that students have about pursuing a career in public interest law? What steps can law students and law schools take to remedy those concerns?

Some of the concerns that students have about pursuing a career in public interest law include earning adequate compensation to maintain a healthy lifestyle, achieving work-life balance, paying off school debt, and the emotional and physical burnout that can be associated with public interest careers. Students can begin cultivating the healthy internal practices necessary to cope with some of the challenges of public interest law. Law schools can also help remedy these concerns by providing scholarships and grant opportunities to students, particularly those who have greater barriers to procuring funds to attend school. Law schools can also partner with organizations like Equal Justice Works to educate students on the nuances of debt and loan forgiveness.

What are some upcoming projects and/or initiatives you are working on at your law school? 

I am working with my school’s Black Law School Association (BLSA) chapter on several initiatives. Some of these include creating a how-to (safely) protest guide, providing a pro bono expungement clinic in partnership with a local historically black organization, and volunteering at a local school. I am also joining in opportunities to make my school and the city more welcoming and equitable—which is especially pertinent given the growing disparities that have been compounded in the past several months.

Can you share some best practices for organizing and advocating for public interest initiatives on law school campuses? How about outside of campus? How can students become public interest leaders in their communities?

I’m still learning a lot about how to effectively organize and advocate for public interest initiatives on campus and beyond. I have found engaging individuals who are already working in public interest spaces helpful. I also think it is beneficial to communicate with individuals who have led initiatives in the past. Supporting, listening, and learning from leaders of existing initiatives, and then assessing the actual needs of the community can be beneficial steps to take before starting “new” initiatives. 

How have these opportunities—from serving on the National Advisory Committee to volunteering with legal services organizations in Knoxville—helped to set the foundation for your own public interest law career?

These opportunities have expanded my ideas of public interest law. I’ve also been able to meet individuals currently practicing in these areas, and think more critically about the current opportunities for positive transformation in the field of public interest law. Lastly, participating in these opportunities makes it feel more possible for me to overcome some of the barriers to pursuing public interest law and settle into a thriving career. 

Lastly, what advice would you give to incoming law students interested in becoming public interest leaders at their schools but don’t know where to start.

I would encourage incoming students interested in becoming public interest leaders on their campuses to keep their passion for public interest work at the forefront. Transitioning into law school can be difficult and the tedious 1-L workload can sometimes muffle students’ passions. I hope students allow their passion for public interest to spur them on to mastering the important concepts presented in their first year of law school. I would also encourage students to get involved with Equal Justice Works, utilize the resources available, and plan to attend the Conference and Career Fair. I would also encourage students to apply for one of Equal Justice Works law student programs and/or postgraduate programs. Lastly, I would encourage students to seek out mentors who practice public interest law and start serving as soon as possible.

Supporting, listening, and learning from leaders of existing initiatives, and then assessing the actual needs of the community can be beneficial steps to take before starting “new” initiatives.

Chantel Mattike /
National Advisory Committee Member

Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today announced the newest members of its National Advisory Committee.

Photo of new law student members Xavier T. de Janon, Michael Harding, Nicole Schaum, and Nathan Virag

Formed in 2003, the National Advisory Committee (NAC) is a diverse group of eight law students and eight law school professionals who serve as Equal Justice Works ambassadors within the law school and legal services communities. NAC members extend the reach of Equal Justice Works initiatives by providing leadership, feedback, and outreach assistance to support the organization’s mission to create opportunities for lawyers to transform their passion for public service into a lifelong commitment to equal justice.

“We are pleased to announce our 2020-2022 National Advisory Committee members,” said Aoife Delargy Lowe, director of law school engagement & advocacy at Equal Justice Works.

Photo of new law school professional members Darcy Meals and Trisha Nakamura.

“These new NAC members will bring a fresh perspective on what’s happening on law school campuses across the nation, which will help guide our efforts to help students in launching their public interest law careers.”

NAC members serve two-year staggered terms—this year, four students and two law school professionals will join the Committee to replace members who have completed their terms of service. The newest members of the 2020-2022 National Advisory Committee include:

Law Students:

  • Xavier T. de Janon, Golden Gate State University School of Law
  • Michael Harding, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law
  • Nicole Schaum, University of Arkansas Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law
  • Nathan Virag, John Marshall Law School

Law School Professionals:

  • Darcy Meals, Georgia State University College of Law
  • Trisha Nakamura, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law

The current list of NAC members is available here.

Due to public health and safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the NAC will host its annual meeting virtually on July 29–30, 2020. At the meeting, members will brainstorm how to best expand access and knowledge of public interest law in their respective regions.

If you are interested in joining the National Advisory Committee or would like more information, please contact [email protected].

###

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.

These new NAC members will bring a fresh perspective on what’s happening on law school campuses across the nation, which will help guide our efforts to help students in launching their public interest law careers.

Aoife Delargy Lowe /
Director of Law School Engagement & Advocacy
Equal Justice Works

 Kiva Zytnick is the Pro Bono Coordinator at The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and a member of the Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee.

Did you always know you wanted to be involved in pro bono and public interest law work?

When I was a law student, I knew that I wanted to do public interest work—that’s why I went to law school. But, I don’t think I quite understood the difference between public interest and pro bono. Now, as the Pro Bono Coordinator at CUA Law, I try to emphasize the distinction with my students. Pro bono work provides lawyers the opportunity, no matter what type of law they practice, to give back to their community with their unique legal skills. I advise all of my students to always think about how they can build pro bono into their practice.

Photo of Kiva Zytnick (left) being interviewed by Equal Justice Works Communications Intern Catherine Williams

In your current role, you help law students pursue their own public service passions through the Columbus School of Law’s Pro Bono Program. What is it about participating in pro bono opportunities that is so important for law students?

I believe that lawyers have a professional and ethical responsibility to use their legal skills to advance the public interest and expand access to justice. And I believe that duty begins in law school. Another point I emphasize to my students is that pro bono work is also incredibly beneficial for the volunteer. You get valuable hands-on experience, exposure to areas of law that you might not have had otherwise, an opportunity to build your résumé, a network of people you can tap into for future jobs, and even preparation for an Equal Justice Works Fellowship. It is also a wonderful way to learn about the community around you, about your fellow law students and peers, and about yourself. One of the other things I talk to students about is that you’re not just a law student, you’re a whole human being. Pro bono can be a really great way to fulfill yourself outside of the classroom.

What advice do you give to students who want to become involved in pro bono work but don’t know where to start?

People often don’t know where to begin. It sounds very simple, but you just need to take a deep breath and just jump in. I would suggest starting with whoever runs the pro bono program at your school, or if you don’t have one, your career services office. As part of my job, I provide pro bono resources and counseling to students. I talk through what interest areas they have, what skills they want to be building, and what works with their schedule. I am lucky to be in Washington, D.C., because there is a wealth of opportunities and legal service providers in this city to connect students with.

Likewise, what advice can you give to law school professionals who are interested in creating or growing a successful pro bono program at their law school?

Communication is key. Engaging with students isn’t always easy—they can be hard to reach. I have gotten creative about engaging students. Try both in person and online options to maximize the ways to reach students.

One of my goals for this year is to continue to grow the pro bono and public interest community on campus. A method where I’ve had success is peer-to-peer communication. I have encouraged students to talk to their peers because they often listen to each other more than they listen to me. I encourage students to bring a friend with them when they go to a legal clinic where they do pro bono. One example that occurred just this week: I posted an opportunity in a GroupMe chat for students interested in pro bono and public interest work. Later in the day, one student who volunteers with the organization commented about how great of an opportunity it was. Within a few hours, three more students had signed up.

Lastly, what do you hope to accomplish as a member of the Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee

I want to keep getting the word out about the amazing, fantastic resources that Equal Justice Works has. It is really incredible the wealth of resources the organization provides to law students and law service professionals. I also want to keep focusing on the National Advisory Committee’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. I really appreciate how Equal Justice Works is thinking creatively about getting these resources out to first-generation law students who often really do not know where to begin and do not have that personal network.

I believe that lawyers have a professional and ethical responsibility to use their legal skills to advance the public interest and expand access to justice.

Kiva Zytnick /
National Advisory Committee Member

Walter Jean-Jacques is a second-year law student at the University of Notre Dame Law School, and a member of both the Equal Justice Works Board of Directors and the National Advisory Committee (NAC).

Photo of Walter Anthony Jean-Jacques
Photo of Walter Anthony Jean-Jacques

You have a clear passion for public interest law as shown by your work with student organizations at Notre Dame Law and through your many internships. What inspired you to become a public interest leader at your school?

When I began law school, there was a faculty member and individual in the career development office that provided public interest opportunities, but no particular student advocating for this subset of experiences throughout the country. [The NAC opportunity] caught my attention my 1L year and filled me with vigor to become the “public interest person” at Notre Dame.

What drew you to public interest law?

Growing up in Newark, New Jersey, I witnessed inequities on a day-to-day basis. I was constantly asking, “Why hasn’t this person received rightful representation?’ and “Why has this inequality not been addressed in the legal realm?” It made me wonder if there were actually people doing the work to help these people. In school, I did a report on Thurgood Marshall, and I was enamored. I saw how his work helped the communities around him, and I knew I wanted to be like him. From that point on, every life decision I made was with his legacy in mind. From my internships at civil rights organizations to teaching in Baltimore City Public Schools, I’ve always felt a calling to work in the public interest sector.

Walter Jean-Jacques is interviewed by Equal Justice Works Communications Intern Catherine Williams

One of the ways that you serve on your campus is through the Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee. As a member representing the mid-west region, what are some of your responsibilities?

As a member of the National Advisory Committee, I make sure member law schools in the mid-west region are aware of the different Equal Justice Works opportunities available to law students and law school professionals. Some of those opportunities include the Conference and Career Fair, the Rural Summer Legal Corps, and the Design Your Own Fellowships and Fellowship Programs.

At the 2018 Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair, you participated on the Student Advocacy Summit panel, where you spoke about planning successful public interest events at your school. Can you share some best practices for organizing and advocating for public interest initiatives on law school campuses?

When organizing and advocating for public interest initiatives on law school campuses, some of the best practices are to be open and ask difficult questions with law school leadership. For example, after my first National Advisory Committee meeting, I was inspired by the Equal Justice Works resources that are available to students who want to pursue a public interest career. Promptly, I went to my Dean’s office to discuss how to make those resources accessible for students. From securing funding for the Conference and Career Fair to organizing on-campus events with public interest speakers, communication with law school leadership can help students become more interested in pursuing a public interest career.

Earlier this year, you became a member of the Equal Justice Works Board of Directors. How has the experience been so far?

I joke that being a part of the board of directors was one of the best birthday presents because I found out I was selected on my birthday. It has been a phenomenal experience to not only advocate on behalf of students who are interested in pursuing public interest law, but to be in the room with so many leaders who are advocating for equal justice for all. Picking the brains of judges and nonprofit presidents about issues that impact students and equal justice on a day-to-day basis has allowed me to become a better advocate. And, in return, I have been able to better advocate for students. As a member of the board, I hold an equal say alongside my peers, which allows me to be vocal about important issues: “How can I advocate for students? How am I making sure that student voices are being heard?” Overall, I am very grateful for the experience.

In what ways have these opportunities—from the National Advisory Committee to the board of directors—helped to set the foundation for your legal career?

These opportunities have helped me to see myself as a public interest leader. At six years old, I was advocating for lawyers to come back to communities like mine and serve the needs of the people. It is empowering to now be providing those opportunities as a board member, and by advocating for students to do the work as a member of the National Advisory Committee.

Lastly, what advice would you give to incoming law students who are interested in becoming public interest leaders at their schools?

Don’t shy away from your interests. There’s a reason you were drawn to public interest leadership. Don’t be quiet—your passion and resilience is especially needed right now. Everyone comes from a unique background and I believe those qualities and differences foster talented advocates. And, we need many more advocates to help inspire the next generation of public interest lawyers.

There’s a reason you were drawn to public interest leadership. Don’t be quiet—your passion and resilience is especially needed right now.

Walter Jean-Jacques /
Rising 3L, Notre Dame Law School
Member, Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee & Board of Directors

Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today announced the newest members of its National Advisory Committee.

Formed in 2003, the National Advisory Committee (NAC) is a diverse group of eight law students and eight law school professionals who serve as Equal Justice Works ambassadors within the law school and legal services communities. NAC members extend the reach of Equal Justice Works initiatives by providing leadership, feedback, and outreach assistance to support the organization’s mission of helping law students transform their passion for public service into a lifelong commitment to equal justice.

“We are over the moon to announce our 2019-2021 National Advisory Committee members,” said Aoife Delargy Lowe, director of law school engagement and advocacy at Equal Justice Works. “These outstanding law students and exceptional law school professionals provide Equal Justice Works with strategic guidance and a unique and important perspective on what’s happening on law school campuses across the nation.”

NAC members serve two-year staggered terms—this year, four students and five law school professionals will join the Committee to replace members who have completed their terms of service. The newest members of the 2019-2021 National Advisory Committee include:

Students:

  • Kaile Bennett, Stetson University College of Law
  • Erica Brant, Roger Williams University School of Law
  • Chantel Matikke, Lincoln Memorial University, Duncan School of Law
  • Brittany Urness, Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School

Law School Professionals:

  • Michelle Condon, Charleston School of Law
  • Parisa Ijadi-Maghsoodi, University of San Diego School of Law
  • Claire O’Brien, Washington University in Saint Louis School of Law
  • Nicholas Schroeck, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law
  • Gregory Zlotnick, St. Mary’s University School of Law

The current list of NAC members is available here.

All members will meet later this summer in Washington, D.C., for a strategy session on how best to expand access and knowledge of public interest law in their respective regions.

If you are interested in joining the National Advisory Committee or would like more information, please contact [email protected].

These outstanding law students and exceptional law school professionals provide Equal Justice Works with strategic guidance and a unique and important perspective on what’s happening on law school campuses across the nation.

Aoife Delargy Lowe /
Equal Justice Works Director of Law School Engagement and Advocacy

Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today announced the newest members of its National Advisory Committee.

Formed in 2003, the National Advisory Committee (NAC) brings together a diverse group of eight law students and eight law school professionals to serve as Equal Justice Works ambassadors within the law school and legal services communities. NAC members extend the reach of Equal Justice Works initiatives by providing leadership, feedback, and outreach assistance to support the organization’s mission of helping law students transform their passion for public service into a lifelong commitment to equal justice.

NAC members serve two-year terms, and participate on a rolling basis—this year, four students and two law school professionals will join the Committee to replace members who have completed their terms of service. The entire NAC will meet later this year in Washington, D.C., for a strategy session on how best to expand access and knowledge of public interest law in their respective regions.

Newest Members of the 2018-2020 National Advisory Committee: 

Students:

  • Midwest Region: Walter Jean-Jacques, Notre Dame Law School
  • Northeast Region: Derek Demeri, Rutgers Law School
  • Pacific Region: Neema Mohammadizad, The College of Law at John F. Kennedy University
  • Southwest Region: Kaylyn Hager, University of Arkansas Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law

Law School Professionals:

  • Mid-Atlantic: Aoife Delargy, The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law
  • Northeast: Carolyn Goodwin, Boston University School of Law

If you are interested in joining the National Advisory Committee or would like more information, please contact [email protected].