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Posted April 12, 2005
Fairstein, Caplin Fellows Rewarded for Commitment to Public Service

For the first time since it was established in 1999, the Linda A. Fairstein Public Service Fellowship has been awarded to two students, Jonathan Chananie and Tiffany Marshall, who plan to make their marks in prosecution and children's law, respectively. Second-year law student Ryan Almstead, who will pursue a career in direct legal services, received the Mortimer Caplin Public Service Fellowship. Both the Caplin and Fairstein fellowships grant $5,000 annually for three years.

RYAN ALMSTEAD 2005 Mortimer Caplin Public Service Fellow

Ryan Almstead

Public service activities at the law school/during summers:

Perhaps most prominently, I was fortunate enough to serve as a co-chair of this year's Conference on Public Service and the Law, which brings in people from across the country to talk about current issues in public interest law and is a great rallying weekend for public interest-minded students. I also have played a major role in the Law School's chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a student organization dedicated to using the law as a tool for progressive social change. To a lesser degree, I have taken part in the Migrant Farmworker Project, the Human Rights Program, and the Public Interest Law Association.

Last summer, I had the incredible opportunity to work with the Legal Aid Justice Center in Charlottesville. The lawyers and staff at LAJC are some of the best in the business, and the clients we worked with were some of the most amazing individuals you'll meet. You won’t find a better legal services organization than LAJC. I'll be spending this summer clerking in the Housing Unit at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, another outstanding organization, advocating on behalf of low-income residents of Hawaii, who face one of the tightest and most expensive housing markets in the country.

Public service activities/employment pre-law school:

Prior to law school, I spent a couple of years working at a public policy research center at the Kennedy School of Government, providing research assistance to scholars studying local public policy issues and helping to educate practitioners about possible solutions to the problems we identified. I also spent a rather long but wonderful year teaching middle school English Literature, and split another between preserving Native American archaeological sites in upstate New York and volunteering at a nursing home in San Carlos, Costa Rica that provided free services for former agricultural workers.

What interested you in law and public service?

All of it, really. The people you encounter in the field, both in terms of clients and colleagues, are, by and large, such good, interesting, dedicated folks that it’s hard to imagine doing anything else once you get exposed to it. As well, a professor I had when I was doing graduate work in post-colonial studies told me that while being an English professor was certainly more fun, the real way to make a difference was to be a lawyer. I’ve never really liked having fun that much, so here I am.

Favorite public service-oriented class?

That’s tough. I’m going to cop out and pick three: Civil Rights Litigation with Prof. Goluboff, which was perhaps the best-taught course I’ve had at law school; Social Movements and the Law with Prof. Brown-Nagin, which never ceases to challenge one’s assumptions about the efficacy of using the law as a tool for social change; and Issues in Poverty Law with Dan Nagin, which is the course most relevant to want I want to do with my life and just a really engaging class.

Best experience in public service?

Another hard one. I’d have to go with the voter registration drive we did at the Food Lion down on 5th Street. A few law students and I were down there with a table and some forms, and it was amazing to see how many people were happy to see us. A couple of folks told us about how when they first started to vote, they were forced to pay poll taxes and that they would save their money for weeks or months because voting mattered to them so much. Having them thank us for being there was both surreal and humbling.

TIFFANY MARSHALL 2005 Linda A. Fairstein Public Service Fellow

Tiffany Marshall

Public service activities at the law school/during summers:

I am the outgoing disbursements director for the PILA Board and am the current president-elect.  I am also the liaison to the American Bar Association’s Steering Committee on the Unmet Legal Needs of Children.  I have logged pro bono hours as a panel organizer for the Conference on Public Service and the Law, a presenter at an Albemarle High School Street Law Workshop, and as Public Service Chair for the Virginia Bar Association’s Law School Council.  Last summer, I interned with the Legal Aid Justice Center’s JustChildren program.  I will intern at the Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts and the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society this summer.

Public service activities/employment pre-law school:

I worked in the public sector as an academic counselor with Virginia Tech’s Upward Bound program for three years before coming to law school.  In that position, I helped low-income, at-risk high school students matriculate to post-secondary education.  My work with Upward Bound was incredibly rewarding and solidified my interest in working for disadvantaged children.

What interested you in law and public service?

I always knew I would be a public servant in some form.  My professional work before coming to law school always involved young people.  I have a sincere interest in exploring the issues that affect children and I have an appreciation for the ways in which the law can be an effective tool in ensuring that children have a voice in what happens to them in every aspect of their lives.

Favorite public service-oriented class?

My favorite public service-oriented class is the Lawyers and Justice: Ethics in Public Interest Lawyering class I took with Prof. Tomiko Brown-Nagin last fall. The reading material Prof. Brown-Nagin assigned and the rich class discussions we had surrounding the difficult choices public interest lawyers face on a daily basis made me face the realities of my career choice while also giving me an appreciation for those who have done and are doing this work.

Best experience in public service?

I have two “best experiences” in public service.  My first experience was in the work I did with Upward Bound before coming to Law School.  Since coming to Law School, my best experience in public service has been serving on the PILA Board.  PILA is an incredible organization that seeks to support all students—those who will find work in the public sector and those students who will work in firms and do pro bono work on behalf of the individuals who live in their communities. I look forward to heading this organization next year and continuing to fulfill its mission.

JONATHAN CHANANIE 2005 Linda A. Fairstein Public Service Fellow

Jonathan Chananie

Public service activities at the law school/during summers:

I worked for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Alexandria last summer and will be spending this summer with the Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.  I guess my big public service thing is volunteering over at Student Health reading textbooks onto audiotape for blind students, which I started doing as an undergrad here and took up again when I came back for law school. 

Public service activities/employment pre-law school:

I was a cop in northern Virginia for two years between college and law school.  Actually, I still do law enforcement part-time now (if you remember Prof. Cannon's quote in the Law Weekly a couple of weeks ago about being stopped for speeding by a former student, that was me—for the record, I did not write him a ticket). 

What interested you in law and public service?

I'm going into prosecution because I don't like bad guys and I want to help keep the public safe from them. I think people who hurt other people for fun and profit should go to jail for as long they've got coming.  I think some of what I saw at the Pentagon on 9/11, when I was five weeks into the academy, really drove home my commitment to public safety. 

Favorite public service-oriented class?

I really enjoyed Earl Dudley's evidence class, Anne Coughlin's criminal law class, and John Monahan's criminology seminar.

Best experience in public service?

I guess my best public service experience would be the lost kids that I've found and returned to their families while working as a cop. I like stories with happy endings. 

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