Equal Justice Works Receives a Grant from OVC

Grant Will Support Organization’s Work to Mobilize Lawyers to Provide Legal Aid to Victims of Crime in Underserved Communities.

Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today announced that it has been awarded a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, to launch the Crime Victims Advocacy Program (CVAP), a two-year legal Fellowship program.

In 2020, almost 17 million Americans were victims of crime, including more than 4.5 million violent crimes and more than 12 million property crimes. Additionally, crime victimization disproportionately impacts racial minority groups. Crime survivors often face complex legal issues, which can be overwhelming to navigate without legal representation. Victimization can create a myriad of civil legal problems and intensify pre-existing challenges faced by victims and their families. Studies uniformly show that individuals represented by lawyers receive better outcomes than unrepresented or self-represented individuals.

The Crime Victims Advocacy Program at Equal Justice Works will place 21 attorney Fellows at legal services organizations across the country to provide civil legal services for victims of crime in underserved communities, specifically communities of color, and to enforce their rights. In addition to mobilizing attorney Fellows, CVAP will also include a cohort of 21 summer law student Fellows who will support the work of attorney Fellows and help build a pipeline of victims’ rights attorneys who have sustained careers in this field.

“It is essential for crime victims to have access to legal aid to enforce their rights and address many legal issues they may face after the victimization,” noted Verna Williams, CEO at Equal Justice Works. “We are incredibly grateful to the Office of Victims of Crime’s support of this program to provide critical legal services and strengthen community responses for crime victims in underserved areas.”

Fellows in the Crime Victims Advocacy Program will represent crime victims to enforce their rights and pursue available legal remedies for their clients. They will also engage with the community at large through outreach, community education, and partnership-building activities to increase underserved communities’ capacity to effectively support victims.

The Crime Victims Advocacy Program will be implemented in collaboration with the training and technical assistance (TTA) provider, the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI). As the national expert on victim law and legal training, NCVLI will provide intensive and multi-faceted TTA to the Fellows throughout the program to develop their knowledge and skills on relevant legal issues and best practices and to create opportunities for peer learning.

Equal Justice Works plans to start the host organization selection process and open applications to become a CVAP Fellow in the winter of 2022/2023, and Fellows are expected to begin work during the summer of 2023.

For more information about the Crime Victims Advocacy Program, please contact [email protected].

This program is supported by an award under 15POVC-22-GK-01116-NONF, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this document are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Equal Justice Works is proud to introduce the 2022 class of Housing Justice Program Fellows. Thirty-one Fellows will be hosted at eighteen legal aid and grassroots organizations in areas where evictions and housing instability have reached epidemic proportions. The program has expanded from Richmond to Northern and Eastern Virginia, and into South Carolina and Maryland.

The Equal Justice Works Housing Justice Program uniquely combines the efforts of lawyers and community organizers, working collaboratively as Fellows, to advocate for low-income and under-resourced communities.

Evictions have a disproportionate effect on communities of color, women, and children. Without access to safe and stable housing, individuals and families can face a variety of negative outcomes, including economic hardships and health problems.

Meet some of our Housing Justice Program Fellows and learn more about how they will be building collaborative partnerships among tenant groups and community members and engaging in activities to effect systemic change.

Equal Justice Works Fellows in the Housing Justice Program’s 2022 class have created projects to address a wide range of housing-related legal issues. Examples of these projects include:

Benjamin Apt, Legal Aid Justice Center

Benjamin’s Fellowship aims to foster the growth of affordable housing programs for low-income residents in Northern Virginia through research, representation, and advocacy. He has partnered with the Legal Aid Justice Center to raise awareness of the economic vulnerabilities that very low-income tenants, many of whom are immigrants, face.

DeAnna B. Smith, Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia

At the Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia, DeAnna will work with the Attorney Fellows to connect tenants with the legal assistance and knowledge they need to address the systemic problems plaguing local housing markets. DeAnna will also support tenants in low-income public and subsidized housing, conduct outreach, organize education sessions, and build partnerships with community organizations to provide a network of support in addition to legal services.

Emily Blackshire, South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center

Emily’s project focuses on expanding tenants’ rights in counties across South Carolina. Throughout the Fellowship, Emily will partner with various actors and organizers in the community to create infrastructure for a housing court system that provides access to counsel for all tenants at risk of eviction.

Anne Boyle, Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland

Anne will participate in her host organization’s rent clinic, where she will provide day-of-court, limited-scope representation to tenants in district courts for Baltimore City and County. She will also take on an in-house, landlord-tenant caseload and help the Pro Bono Resource Center to recruit, mentor, and support volunteer attorneys.

Warren Buff, Community Legal Services of Prince Georges County, Inc.

At his host organization, Warren will address housing insecurity by focusing on eviction defense in Prince George’s County, Maryland. He will also train local attorney volunteers to assist in tenant defense during eviction proceedings and will participate in education and outreach programs to help local tenants avoid eviction proceedings before they begin.

Jamesa D. Parker, Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia

Jamesa will connect tenants with the legal assistance and knowledge they need to address the systemic problems plaguing local housing markets in Virginia. This Fellowship will also connect with community allies to identify and provide direct and targeted legal services to the community.

Marianela Funes, Tenants and Workers United

As a Fellow, Marianela will engage in community outreach, relationship building, leadership development, and community organizing to build power and advance changes in local housing policies that preserve and expand deeply affordable housing for households at the lowest income levels.

Jake Kmiech, CASA, Inc.

In response to housing instability in Maryland, Jake is partnering with CASA, Inc. to represent immigrant communities facing housing instability throughout Maryland, ensuring they have access to safe housing and justice.

Brandon L. Ballard, Legal Aid Society of Eastern Virginia

Brandon will collaborate with activists and organizations in the community to tackle systemic barriers to housing by providing direct, targeted legal services to a subsidized—or otherwise low-income—multifamily complex. Brandon plans to empower the community by way of a tenant advocacy group, workshops, and door-to-door outreach.

Rebecca Leussing, Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Inc.

At Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Inc., Rebecca will provide legal representation to low-income clients facing eviction and exploitation by their landlords. She will work to build the network of organizations and community leaders who serve low-income individuals facing housing instability. She also aims to create accessible legal materials to arm people with knowledge of their rights and resources.

Malique Parker, Baltimore Renters United

Malique will work to increase tenant engagement by organizing in Baltimore City, where he will facilitate tenant-led organizing. He will develop a plan for Baltimore Renters United to conduct outreach in community spaces, implement bi-monthly city-wide tenant organizing meetings, offer trainings, and recruit tenant leaders to participate in national training with other tenant-led organizing groups.

DiNesha Rucker, Homeless Persons Representation Project, Inc.

DiNesha’s Fellowship will focus on eviction defense and increasing access to permanent housing for youth and young adults in Baltimore City, Maryland. By providing legal and educational assistance specifically for youths under 25 years old, DiNesha will seek to increase youth and young adults access to permanent housing.

Taylor Rumble, Charleston Legal Access

As a Fellow, Taylor will collaborate with local organizations to defeat barriers to legal representation in eviction hearings. By establishing Housing Court in at least two additional South Carolina counties, she will support tenants facing housing instability through the legal process.

Denise Thomas-Brown, Virginia Poverty Law Center

Denise will identify and support grass roots tenant organizations and groups throughout the state to help coordinate and guide them on policy advocacy. She will accomplish this by providing education and training, collaborating with tenant organizations, and conducting advocacy trainings.

Sloan Wilson, SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center

In response to rising rent prices and a rental home shortage, Sloan will provide resources and support for tenant-led advocacy groups in low-income housing complexes though community organization partnerships, distributed organizing outreach, educational sessions, and legal aid.

Charlie Zenker, Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Inc.

Charlie’s Fellowship will provide community outreach and legal services to promote housing justice in Northern Virginia. This project will partner with the community in know-your-rights trainings, outreach events, and direct legal services to make legal information and resources more accessible.

The Housing Justice Program is made possible thanks to the generosity of The JPB Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Abell Foundation, and Maryland Legal Services Corporation. Learn more about the program here.

WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPTEMBER 14, 2022— Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today announced the newest members of the Equal Justice Works Alumni Advisory Council.

The Alumni Advisory Council (AAC) is a non-fiduciary advisory board comprised of a diverse group of 15 Equal Justice Works alumni who provide advice and counsel in support of the organization’s alumni engagement initiatives. AAC members work in partnership with the director of alumni relations to build lifelong relationships between Equal Justice Works, its Fellowship alumni, and current Fellows through programming, communication, and volunteerism. The AAC works to advance and promote the mission of Equal Justice Works and our programs while representing the interests and concerns of alumni to Equal Justice Works, and the interests of Equal Justice Works to its alumni.

AAC members are appointed to serve three-year staggered terms and may be reappointed for one additional consecutive three-year term. Members are reflective of the diverse strengths, Fellowship programs, geographic distribution, professional accomplishments, and public interest disciplines of the Equal Justice Works alumni community. Recently, the AAC welcomed five new members.

“We are thrilled to welcome the newest members to our Alumni Advisory Council and are looking forward to having each one of them contribute their diverse expertise, viewpoints, and experiences,” said Lynbea Toombs, the Director of Alumni Relations at Equal Justice Works. “The work of our Council members is immensely important to furthering our alumni engagement program and our organization’s mission; the commitment of our newest members to the communities they serve and to Equal Justice Works will continue to enhance the Council’s value.”

The new members of the Alumni Advisory Council include:

Headshot of Sarah Belton
Headshot of Sarah E. Belton

Sarah E. Belton, 2010 Fellow

Sarah’s Fellowship at Legal Services for Children addressed the unmet educational needs of youth pushed out from public schools due to school discipline, attendance, special education, and other issues. After her Fellowship, Sarah was a Supervising Deputy Attorney General at the California Department of Justice, where she led the Bureau of Children’s Justice within the Civil Rights Enforcement Section. She also worked as the first Cartwright-Baron Attorney at the Oakland office of Public Justice. Sarah now works as a Clinical Supervising Attorney and Lecturer in Law at the Mills Legal Clinic at Stanford Law School. There, she leads the Racial Justice Pilot Project, which is focused on combatting systemic racism and addressing harm to communities of color.

Headshot of Esha Bhandari
Headshot of Esha Bhandari

Esha Bhandari, 2011 Fellow

During her Fellowship at the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project, Esha worked to secure greater procedural protections for immigration detainees with mental disabilities in removal proceedings. Esha now serves as the Deputy Director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, where she uses litigation and advocacy to protect freedom of expression and privacy rights in the digital age. She also focuses on the impact of big data and artificial intelligence on civil liberties. She has litigated cases including Sandvig v. Barr, a First Amendment challenge to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act on behalf of researchers who test for housing and employment discrimination online, and Alasaad v. Wolf, a challenge to suspicionless electronic device searches at the U.S. border.

Oscar Fernandez Headshot
Headshot of Oscar Fernandez

Oscar Fernandez, 2016 and 2017 Fellow

Oscar’s Fellowship afforded representation to unaccompanied children in removal proceedings before the immigration court, in asylum proceedings, and in other adjudicative bodies. After his Fellowship, Oscar became a staff attorney with his host organization, the Catholic Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, where he continued working predominantly with unaccompanied minors and expanded his reach as an advocate to also represent adults with lower incomes who were seeking immigration assistance. Oscar is currently a Research Attorney and Practice Area Consultant at LexisNexis, where he works closely with law schools and firms in south Florida. He volunteers his free time through the company to further the LexisNexis Cares initiative of advancing the rule of law and caring for communities.

Headshot of Jilisa Milton
Headshot of Jilisa Milton

Jilisa Milton, 2019 Fellow

During her Fellowship, Jilisa worked at the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program’s Black Belt Disability Justice Project (BBDJP) to protect the rights of children with disabilities. After her Equal Justice Works Fellowship, Jilisa became a State Policy Fellow through the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. She currently works at Alabama Arise, a statewide, member-led organization advancing public policies to improve the lives of Alabamians who are marginalized by poverty and racial injustice, where she is a policy analyst and lobbyist on state budget and tax policy (economic policy) and racial justice.

Headshot of Claire Johnson Raba
Headshot of Claire Johnson Raba

Claire Johnson Raba, 2010 Fellow

Claire’s Fellowship at Bay Area Legal Aid provided a fresh start for people who suffered from coerced debt, identity theft, and consumer and tax debts incurred due to abusive relationships. After her Fellowship, Claire served as the Consumer Rights unit team lead at Bay Area Legal Aid for nine years, and taught Consumer Law for two years as an Adjunct Professor of Law at UC Hastings, College of the Law. Claire joined the UC Irvine School of Law Consumer Law Clinic as a Clinical Teaching Fellow in 2019, where she supervised students representing clients in complex predatory lending matters and affirmative policy litigation to halt unconstitutional government-imposed debt. Currently, as an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law, Claire teaches Civil Procedure and Consumer Law and conducts empirical research on issues of access to justice, civil court modernization, legal technology, and consumer debt.

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To learn more about the Alumni Advisory Council, visit here.

We are thrilled to welcome the newest members to our Alumni Advisory Council and are looking forward to having each one of them contribute their diverse expertise, viewpoints, and experiences.

Lynbea Toombs /
Director of Alumni Relations

Photo of Verna L. Williams
Photo of Verna Williams, courtesy of the University of Cincinnati College of Law
WASHINGTON, July 21, 2022  — Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today announced that Verna Williams will be the organization’s new CEO.

Verna comes to Equal Justice Works from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where she currently serves as the dean, and brings decades of experience both practicing and teaching law, specializing in constitutional law, critical race theory, race and the law, family law, and feminist legal theory. In her role as CEO, Verna will build on the 36-year history of Equal Justice Works, an organization founded by law students, which currently has more than 200 Fellows and 2,300 alumni, 85% of whom remain in public service positions following their Fellowship.

“The mission of Equal Justice Works to create opportunities for leaders to transform their passion for equal justice into a lifelong commitment to public service is an admirable one that means so much to me personally. Throughout my career, while I was at the Department of Justice, the National Women’s Law Center, and the University of Cincinnati College of Law, public interest law has truly been at the heart of my work, especially with a focus on civil rights and women’s rights. At this time, when economic security remains out of reach for too many and long-standing legal protections are in jeopardy, the mission of Equal Justice Works and the work of the Fellows is more important than ever. It’s an honor to join this organization,” said Verna Williams, incoming CEO of Equal Justice Works.

“Verna has an impressive background and experience practicing law, driving educational opportunities in public interest law, and leading a law school — all of which relates to the work and community of Equal Justice Works. She has a clear vision for the future of the organization; a strong record of championing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging; and she has a demonstrated ability to lead and build connections across groups within the community. Given her experience, vision, and personal qualities, I am thrilled and enthusiastic about welcoming Verna to the leadership of Equal Justice Works,” said Ivan Fong, Chair of the Equal Justice Works Board of Directors.

“Verna is an outstanding choice to be the next leader of Equal Justice Works,” said David Stern, Executive Director of Equal Justice Works. “For 30 years, I have been inspired by the students, Fellows, and alumni who are on the front lines challenging systemic injustice and making a lasting impact in the communities where they serve. At a time when injustices proliferate, there is an unprecedented appetite among law students and lawyers to devote themselves to public service. Equal Justice Works is poised to respond, and Verna is the right choice to be the next leader of this organization.”

At this time, when economic security remains out of reach for too many and long-standing legal protections are in jeopardy, the mission of Equal Justice Works and the work of the Fellows is more important than ever. It’s an honor to join this organization.

Verna Williams /
Incoming CEO of Equal Justice Works

Verna most recently served as the Dean of the College of Law at the University of Cincinnati, where she began working as a member of the faculty in 2001 teaching areas of family law, gender discrimination, and constitutional law. She also founded and co-directed the College’s Judge Nathaniel Jones Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice. Prior to her roles at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, Verna was the Vice President and Director of Educational Opportunities at the National Women’s Law Center, focusing on gender equity in education. Additionally, Verna clerked for the Honorable David S. Nelson, U.S. District Judge for the District of Massachusetts, and, following her clerkship, she practiced law at Sidley Austin LLP in Washington, DC, and at the U.S. Department of Justice. Verna graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and Georgetown University.

Verna Williams will join Equal Justice Works as CEO on September 19. Learn more about Verna here.

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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, advocates, legal services organizations, and supporters to build a community committed to fulfilling our nation’s promise of equal justice for all.

Contact
Sarah Lackritz
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
Email: [email protected]

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.

Forty law students will spend their summer helping improve access to justice for people living in rural communities.

WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 25, 2022—Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, and the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the nation’s single largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income Americans, today announced the selection of 40 law students for the Rural Summer Legal Corps (RSLC).

“It is inspiring to see the number of law students who wish to make a meaningful difference in rural communities where civil legal aid is difficult to find,” said David Stern, executive director at Equal Justice Works. “We look forward to seeing the collective impact this talented group of students will have during their summer of service.”

It is inspiring to see the number of law students who wish to make a meaningful difference in rural communities where civil legal aid is difficult to find.

David Stern /
Equal Justice Works Executive Director

RSLC is a partnership between Equal Justice Works and LSC that supports law students serving rural communities each summer. Program participants, called Student Fellows, spend eight to ten weeks hosted by LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations, where they help address challenges facing rural communities.

The 2022 class of Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellows includes 40 students from 36 law schools who will work at 37 LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations across the United States and its territories, providing critical legal assistance to people in rural areas. Through the program, Student Fellows have the opportunity to provide direct legal services, engage in community outreach and education, and build capacity at the organizations where they are hosted.

“The Rural Summer Legal Corps offers law students direct exposure to a potential career and supports civil legal aid organizations working tirelessly to meet the needs of their communities,” said LSC President Ron Flagg. “The shortage of lawyers in rural areas is well documented, and Fellows’ service this summer during the COVID-19 health crisis is particularly important as the numbers of people eligible for LSC-funded services and the legal needs of Americans living in poverty have been surging.”

The Rural Summer Legal Corps offers law students direct exposure to a potential career and supports civil legal aid organizations working tirelessly to meet the needs of their communities.

Ron Flagg /
LSC President

This year’s class of RSLC Student Fellows will take on projects that address a range of access-to-justice issues. Some of these projects include:

  • Dayleen Chery and Matthew Gulick will support their host organization, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc., in the areas of farmworkers rights and environmental justice. Dayleen, a student at Southern University Law Center, will work on a variety of employment law matters affecting migrant and seasonal agricultural workers; and Matthew, a student at Lewis & Clark Law School, will help ensure rural communities are not overburdened by air and water pollution and have access to safe drinking water.
  • Elise Baroni will join “Beyond Opioids—Breaking Legal Barriers for Families in Recovery,” a collaborative project among legal aid programs in Arkansas that supports people impacted by the opioid crisis and other substance use disorders. Elise, a student at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Leflar Law Center, will be hosted by Legal Aid of Arkansas.
  • Christopher Irsfeld will support his host organization, California Rural Legal Assistance, in addressing legal issues affecting rural transgender and gender-non-conforming Californians, as well as investigating potential harassment and discrimination claims. Christopher is a law student at New York University School of Law.

Launched in 2016, RSLC Student Fellows have helped increase access to justice for thousands of individuals living in rural communities. In 2021, law students in the program collectively contributed 10,746 hours to help rural communities, with 4,492 hours spent on direct legal services. These Student Fellows also participated in 154 outreach events, created or expanded more than 170 collaborations with community partners, and provided legal information to more than 900 individuals.

To learn more about the Rural Summer Legal Corps, visit here.

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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.

About Legal Services Corporation
Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid organizations in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. Visit www.lsc.gov for more information.

Contact:
Heena Patel
Marketing & Communications Director
Email: [email protected]

84 public interest lawyers will spend the next two years advancing access to justice with underserved communities across the United States.

The 2022 class of Fellows received sponsorship from 81 law firms, corporations, private foundations, and individual donors.

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 10, 2022—Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today named its 2022 class of Equal Justice Works Fellows. Each of the 84 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.

“The highlight of the year is when we announce the class of 84 passionate public service leaders who will bring their entrepreneurial ideas and energy to communities that face injustice,” said David Stern, executive director at Equal Justice Works. “Chosen from hundreds of compelling applications, these talented new lawyers are destined to make an impact during their Fellowships and throughout their careers.”

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, private foundations, and individual supporters.

Selected from 385 applications, the 2022 class of Equal Justice Works Fellows includes graduates from 45 law schools who will work at 76 legal services organizations across 20 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Among this year’s 81 sponsors are 31 leading law firms recognized in the Am Law 200 and 25 Fortune 500 corporations.

“Improving access to healthcare is a core component of Abbott’s sustainability plan and ties with our broader mission to help people live their fullest, healthiest lives,” said Hubert Allen, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Abbott. “We are deeply honored to be a sponsor of the 2022 Equal Justice Works Fellowship program and support this vital work.”

Equal Justice Works Fellows in the 2022 class have created projects to address a wide range of legal issues. Examples of these projects include:

  • Nicole Camargo Almeida (she/her/hers), a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Law, will be hosted at Legal Action Chicago, where she will provide direct legal representation to low-income immigrants in Illinois seeking healthcare benefits. Nicole’s Fellowship is sponsored by Abbott.
  • Ian Gustafson (he/him/his) will be hosted by the Mississippi Center for Justice, where he will advocate for the clearing of criminal records, restoration of driving privileges, and reinstatement of voting rights on behalf of people formerly incarcerated in southern Mississippi. Ian, a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, is cosponsored by Walmart, Inc. and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.
  • Jemimah Kamau (she/her/hers), a graduate of University of Washington School of Law, will be hosted by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, where she will help respond to the growing legal and social services needs of Black immigrants in a culturally responsive and linguistically competent manner. Jemimah’s Fellowship is sponsored by The Lorenzini Family Foundation.
  • Zoraima Pelaez (she/her/ella) will work to protect the right to abortion and ensure meaningful access, particularly for poor people, people of color, and those living in rural areas, using innovative legal strategies with her host organization, the American Civil Liberties Union. Zoraima, a graduate of University of Texas School of Law, is sponsored by Robyn Lipton and Bruce Kuhlik.
  • Michael Smith (they/them/theirs) will provide legal advocacy for individual survivors of gun violence through a new medical-legal partnership between the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s Community Violence Intervention Program. Michael, a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, will be hosted by Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia. Michael’s Fellowship is sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP.

We are deeply honored to be a sponsor of the 2022 Equal Justice Works Fellowship program and support this vital work.

Hubert Allen /
Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Abbott

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. Our 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, affordable and safe housing, and crime victims’ rights, as well as through the opportunity for a Fellow to work with a legal services organization to design and implement a unique project in response to a specific or emerging need. 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 2022 Equal Justice Works Fellows, host organizations, and sponsors.

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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.

Contact
Heena Patel
Marketing and Communications Director
Email: [email protected]

Photo of Vivian Martinez

Equal Justice Works is proud to announce that Vivian Martinez has joined the organization’s board of directors as its newest member. Vivian is a second-year law student and Public Interest Scholar at LMU Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

“Equal Justice Works was founded by law students, and they are still core to our mission.  We provide public interest opportunities, training, and educational debt assistance to enable these students to pursue their public interest dreams while in law school and beyond,” said David Stern, executive director at Equal Justice Works. “We are honored to welcome Vivian to the Board. She is an accomplished young leader whose passion for public interest law and commitment to serving her community make her a perfect addition to our Board of Directors.”

At LMU Loyola Law School, Vivian stays active on campus by volunteering at the Loyola Immigrant Justice Clinic, where she provides direct representation to individuals who are unable to obtain immigration legal services elsewhere. At the Clinic, Vivian also collaborates with other law students on advocacy projects to advance the rights of immigrant communities of East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights. In addition to her immigration advocacy work, Vivian is a member of La Raza de Loyola and the Disability Law Society at her school.

“As the first in my family to attend law school, I feel an enormous responsibility to channel my family’s strength as new Americans into action of my own,” said Vivian. “I am thrilled to grow the momentum of the Equal Justice Works mission and uplift diversity in the legal field for continuing generations of QTBIPOC law students and lawyers. It is my great privilege to contribute to the vision of advancing equal access to justice alongside the dedicated board and passionate staff at Equal Justice Works.”

I am thrilled to grow the momentum of the Equal Justice Works mission and uplift diversity in the legal field for continuing generations of QTBIPOC law students and lawyers.

Vivian Martinez /
Equal Justice Works Board Member

Vivian’s passion for public interest law extends beyond campus. Following her first year of law school, Vivian helped to provide critical legal services for people living in rural communities as part of the Rural Summer Legal Corps, a partnership between Equal Justice Works and the Legal Services Corporation that supports law students in serving rural communities each summer. During her Student Fellowship, Vivian was hosted at California Rural Legal Assistance, where she assisted with employment and immigration matters for LGBTQ+ rural communities in the Central Coast and Central Valley.

“My experience as an RSLC Student Fellow was fundamental to my journey in public interest law,” said Vivian. “The LGBTQ+ Program provided me with the training and mentorship necessary for a strong foundation in inclusive and affirming client representation. I gained invaluable skills to strengthen collaboration between clients and their legal team. The partnership between Equal Justice Works and California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc., made my commitment to those most marginalized possible and allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of our legal system and its impact on LGBTQ+ rural communities.”

After law school, Vivian plans to pursue a career in public service where she can draw on her experience in holistic services to uplift immigrant communities.

Visit here to view a full list of Equal Justice Works Board of Directors.

Headshot of David Stern
Photo of David Stern

Equal Justice Works is proud to announce that Equal Justice Works Executive Director David Stern is being awarded the 2022 Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award by the Pro Bono Institute (PBI).

“It’s only fitting that PBI honor David in this, his year of retirement,” said Eve Runyon, PBI President and CEO. “We are thrilled to celebrate his many contributions to public interest law and a truly illustrious career.”

Each year, PBI presents the Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award to an individual or organization for their exceptional commitment to pro bono legal services. David will be recognized this evening at the PBI Annual Conference held in Washington, D.C.

It’s only fitting that PBI honor David in this, his year of retirement. We are thrilled to celebrate his many contributions to public interest law and a truly illustrious career.

Eve Runyon /
President, CEO
Pro bono Institute

“Throughout my career, I’ve always been passionate about equal justice and creating opportunities for law students and lawyers to make an impact in our communities, and our country,” said David. “Receiving this award from the Pro Bono Institute is deeply humbling because of our shared commitment and enthusiasm for expanding access to justice for people most in need.”

In 1992, David joined Equal Justice Works, then known as the National Association for Public Interest Law (NAPIL), to launch its postgraduate fellowship program. In 1995, he was promoted to executive director.

During his time at Equal Justice Works, David has built an extraordinary community of lawyers from all corners of the profession. Under his leadership, Equal Justice Works has facilitated more than 2,300 public interest fellowships, with 85% of Fellows continuing to serve the public following their Fellowship. In addition, Equal Justice Works is a national expert on student debt relief and partners with more than 90% of ABA-accredited law schools to promote public interest law opportunities across the country.

Receiving this award from the Pro Bono Institute is deeply humbling because of our shared commitment and enthusiasm for expanding access to justice for people most in need.

David Stern /
Executive Director
Equal Justice Works

David has been recognized as a “Champion of Change” by the White House, as one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” by The National Law Journal, and as one of the “Greatest Washington Lawyers in the Past 30 Years” by The Legal Times. In 2006, he was honored by the Mississippi Center for Justice for bringing national attention to the legal needs of survivors of Hurricane Katrina and for creating Equal Justice Works’ Katrina Initiative, which deployed lawyers to the Gulf Coast region to help thousands of people left without homes, jobs, or social services.

David currently serves on the Advisory Committee for Voices for Civil Justice, a nonpartisan communications hub advancing fairness in America’s legal system. He is also a member of the Legal Services Corporation’s Leaders Council, which is dedicated to raising public awareness of the crisis in civil legal aid nationwide.

Visit here to learn more about David’s commitment to public service and here to learn more about the Laurie D. Zelon Pro Bono Award.

Teresa Wynn Roseborough is Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary at The Home Depot

Photo of Teresa Wynn Roseborough

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 8, 2022—Equal Justice Works, the nation’s largest facilitator of opportunities in public interest law, today announced that it will honor Teresa Wynn Roseborough, executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary of The Home Depot, at the Scales of Justice event on October 11, 2022.

“Teresa’s enduring commitment to pro bono, work to promote diverse workplaces, and firm belief that the law must be used to promote justice and improve lives, all make her a deserving recipient of this honor, and we are thrilled to celebrate her contributions at this year’s Scales of Justice,” said David Stern, executive director at Equal Justice Works. “She is a leader among general counsel and an outstanding example of how those in the legal profession can connect with and serve the communities where they live and practice law.”

Teresa’s enduring commitment to pro bono, work to promote diverse workplaces, and firm belief that the law must be used to promote justice and improve lives, all make her a deserving recipient of this honor, and we are thrilled to celebrate her contributions at this year’s Scales of Justice.

David Stern /
Executive Director, Equal Justice Works

A supporter of Equal Justice Works for nearly 25 years, Teresa served on its Board of Directors from 1998 to 2006. She has been a member of the organization’s Annual Dinner Steering Committee since 2012, and a member of its Board of Counselors since 2016

Each year, Equal Justice Works presents the Scales of Justice Award to a leader in the legal community who exemplifies a high level of commitment to public service and pro bono; shares the organization’s values of service, community, opportunity, passion, and equal access to justice; has upheld the organization’s mission and vision throughout their career while also supporting the organization; and has set a strong example for how legal professionals can contribute to efforts in the public interest.

“The only way to make the vision of equal justice for all a reality is for people to have equal access to lawyers and our justice system,” said Teresa. “Lawyers are critical players in fulfilling the promise of equal justice for all. Beyond increasing access, we must also work to ensure that the law structurally supports equal justice, and that we dismantle artificial boundaries to our justice system. I am proud to support Equal Justice Works and am honored to be a part of this community.”

The only way to make the vision of equal justice for all a reality is for people to have equal access to lawyers and our justice system.

Teresa Wynn Roseborough /
executive vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, The Home Depot

At The Home Depot, Teresa has been a leading voice for expanding the company’s pro bono work and commitments related to social equity efforts in the United States. Since 2013, The Home Depot has sponsored six Equal Justice Works Fellows, and today currently cosponsors two Equal Justice Works Fellows with Eversheds Sutherland. Raneem Ashrawi  advocates for Georgia youth with behavioral and mental health needs, and Eliza McDuffie’s Fellowship project focuses on ending the solitary confinement of children in Georgia’s adult prisons.

“Our Fellows have made us all so incredibly proud to be associated with their work and we are grateful for their leadership and service to our home state of Georgia,” said Teresa.

Before joining The Home Depot, Teresa held several positions at MetLife, including senior chief counsel and deputy general counsel, and she was formerly a partner in the firm that is now Eversheds Sutherland. Teresa began her career in public service working as a deputy assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice during the Clinton administration. She also served as a law clerk for Judge James Dickson Phillips of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and for Justice John Paul Stevens of the United States Supreme Court.

Teresa has earned numerous accolades for her leadership and pro bono work, including recognition as one of 25 Influential Black Women in Business by The Network Journal and as one of America’s top Black attorneys by Black Enterprise. She has also served as a public member of the Administrative Conference of the U.S., and a co-chair of the board of directors of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.  She is presently Chair of the Board of Advisors of the RAND Institute for Civil Justice.

Click here for more information about the Scales of Justice event.

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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 a lifelong commitment to public service and equal justice.

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Heena Patel
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