News & Events
Posted May 9, 2012

Law School, PILA Give Record $483,074 in Summer Public Service Fellowships to 109 Students

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PILA Grants

From left to right, Public Interest Law Association grant recipients Melissa Reilly-Diakun, Ariel Linet, Alyssa Fong-Kwan and Thorne Maginnis.

The Law School and the student-run Public Interest Law Association will give 109 students more than $483,000 to fund their public interest jobs over the summer, PILA organizers said this week. (Where PILA Grantees Will Work)

Contact: Brian McNeill

"PILA's grants are a lifeline for many students who wish to work in summer public interest positions but otherwise wouldn't be able to," said Ashley Matthews '12, the outgoing PILA president. "Our grantees give thousands of hours to deserving clients throughout the world. We're so happy that UVA law students have this opportunity to make a valuable impact and simultaneously further their own public interest careers."

The number of law students receiving grants increased 35 percent over last year, thanks in part to more than $100,000 PILA raised through events like their annual auction and book sales. The remaining funds were provided by the Law School Foundation and other donors. Matthews said the money will be split almost evenly between the classes of 2013 and 2014: 65 first-year students will receive a total of $221,674, while 44 second-year students will receive a total of $261,400. First-years typically get $3,500 and second-years $6,000.

The success of PILA's November auction, which brought in more than $65,000 (More), and new efficiencies implemented by the PILA Board, such as cutting auction and fundraising event expenses, helped ensure that the organization would meet its fundraising goals for the year and receive its full funding of $300,000 from the Law School Foundation, Matthews said.

"It's definitely the best year in fundraising we've had since the economic downturn," Matthews said. "The PILA Board went above and beyond in cutting costs. We really got the most bang for our buck with every dollar we had."

Matthews

Ashley Matthews, outgoing Public
Interest Law Association president
To qualify for the annual grants, students must submit resumes that demonstrate a strong history of pro bono and public service hours. The requirements for grant consideration were 15 hours for first-year students and 35 hours for second-year students, according to third-year law student Sarah Johns, PILA's disbursements coordinator.

Johns said this year's applicants far exceeded those requirements. First-year law students averaged 72 hours per person and second-year law students averaged 103 hours per person, and the two groups together completed more than 8,700 hours of pro bono and service during the academic year.  These statistics do not include hours completed during the summer.    

The grantees will now continue their public interest work this summer in dozens of cities across the U.S. and in three foreign countries.

First-year law student Melissa Reilly-Diakun will travel to Liberia this summer to work for the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, which assists with community dispute resolution, provides legal aid to prisoners, educates the public on such topics as rape and gender violence, and monitors human rights violations.

"I’m interested in human rights, so that's why I was looking for organizations outside of the U.S.," she said. "It's really important to have this funding because you don't have the opportunity to work abroad very often."

Reilly-Diakun said she hopes to make a lasting impact through the development of community training programs in particular.

Alyssa Fong-Kwan, also a first-year student, will work for the Los Angeles Police Department's Office of the Inspector General over the summer. The internal affairs division investigates matters related to the internal disciplinary process, she said, including the use of deadly force.

"I think it's really important for police officers to follow the rules, obviously, and also I think police are better able to do the job if the community trusts them," Fong-Kwan said.

She said her 10-week internship will involve a lot of research and writing, but that she won't be behind a desk the entire time. She also will go on helicopter and street patrol ride-alongs to get a better understanding of the realities of police work.

"The grant has really helped me because I'm going to have to find housing in Los Angeles, not to mention the cost of moving back and forth across the country," Fong-Kwan said.

First-year law student Thorne Maginnis, who will work for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., agreed that urban expenses can be prohibitive.

"It's hard to live in D.C. without some sort of financial assistance if you're doing public service work," Maginnis said. "And, absolutely, the public service grant was the game-changer that made it possible for me to do the program."

For his work with the Federal Tort Act Claims Division, Maginnis will assist attorneys who defend the government against lawsuits. He said the division has handled some high-profile cases, such as lawsuits resulting from the Army Corps of Engineers' management of the levy system in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

"Definitely working [over] the summer helps you get a foot in the door and shows employers that it's where you want to be long-term," Maginnis said. "Plus, it's helping me try out the idea of being a lawyer for the government, which is something I'm interested in."

Second-year law student Ariel Linet said her job will allow her to explore what interests her the most – alleviating the ill effects of poverty.

Her summer employer, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, uses a community lawyering model to address legal issues surrounding poverty. The organization has taken on issues such as disability access in the subway system and the availability of multilingual health forms in hospitals, she said.

"I think the PILA grant program has a ripple effect to make a lot of people's lives better," Linet said.
 

PILA Grantee Employment

Civil Legal Services
Bay Area Legal Aid San Francisco Jacob Kozaczuk
Blue Ridge Legal Services Virginia Kerry Jones
Community Legal Services of Philadelphia Philadelphia Kimberly Rolla
Community Legal Services of Philadelphia Philadelphia Jennifer Kye
DC Volunteer Lawyers Project Washington, D.C. Shannon Parker
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles Los Angeles Sabrina Talukder
Legal Aid Justice Center Charlottesville, Va. Michelle Carmon
Legal Aid Justice Center Charlottesville, Va. Helen O'Beirne
Legal Aid Justice Center Charlottesville, Va. Shannon Pollock
Legal Aid Justice Center Charlottesville, Va. Mario Salas
Legal Aid Justice Center Charlottesville, Va. Alexis Weyers
Legal Aid Justice Center Charlottesville, Va. Russell Horn
Legal Aid Justice Center (Civil Advocacy Program) Charlottesville, Va. Mercy Changwesha
Legal Aid Justice Center (JustChildren Program) Charlottesville, Va. Benjamin Aiken
Legal Aid Justice Center (JustChildren Program) Charlottesville, Va. Alexandra Meador
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest New York Ariel Linet
Northwest Immigrants Rights Project Washington Lieselot Whitbeck
Public Counsel Law Center California Carolyn Rumer
Rocky Mountain Children's Law Center Denver Donald Reinhard
Sanctuary for Families New York Caroline McInerney
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services New Orleans Christine Breton
Federal Government
Congressional Research Service - Library of Congress Washington, D.C. Jared Cole
Department of Education Washington, D.C. Cynthia Castillo
Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights Washington, D.C. Elisa Chen
Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights Washington, D.C. Ese Okuma
Department of Heath and Human Services Maryland Bonnie Latreille
Department of Justice Washington, D.C. Brian Kennedy
Department of Justice Washington, D.C. Thorne Maginnis
Department of Justice, Counterterrorism Section Washington, D.C. Zachary Gutterman
Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review Arlington, Va. Julianne Jaquith
Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review Baltimore Esther Cantor
Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review Miami Lauren Bingham
Department of Justice, Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch Washington, D.C. Casey White
Department of Justice, Civil Division, Fraud Section Washington, D.C. Emily Kveselis
Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Defense Section Washington, D.C. Sarah Buckley
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Washington, D.C. Belinda Luu
Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission Washington, D.C. Christine Shu
Judge Ruggero Aldisert (Senior Status for the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals) California Kelsey Jones
Securities and Exchange Commission Miami Theresa Clark
Securities and Exchange Commission Washington, D.C. Jennifer Tian
U.S. Attorney's Office California Eleanor Winn
U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado Denver Robyn Bitner
U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia Washington, D.C. Caitlin Cipicchio
U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia Washington, D.C. Sean Suber
U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Philadelphia Ethan Simon
U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia Virginia Sharif Gray
U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia Virginia Kate Naseef
U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia Alexandria, Va. Kristin Elysse Stolpe
U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia Virginia Gillian Whitford-McHale
U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey Newark, N.J. Sharon Casola
U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas Dallas Bradley Thompson
U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York New York Catherine Fata
U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia Charlottesville, Va. Luke Leichty
International
Catholic Justice and Peace Commission Liberia Melissa Reilly-Diakun
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Arusha, Tanzania Julia Lacovara
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda Arusha, Tanzania Lisa Marshall
International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia The Netherlands Mariah Thompson
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia The Netherlands Kendra Wergin
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Immediate Office of the Registrar) The Netherlands Lisa Kepple
Public Defenders
Alaska Public Defender Agency Anchorage, Alaska Nicole Frank
Appellate Advocates New York Jamie Marr
Charlottesville Public Defender Charlottesville, Va. Jenny Xie
Cook County Public Defender Chicago Matthew Jobe
Fairfax Public Defender Office Fairfax, Va. Edward Ledford
Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Virginia Roanoke, Va. Monica Tuck
Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Virginia Virginia Susan Tvrdy
Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Virginia Charlottesville, Va. Megan Coker
Maryland Office of the Public Defender Baltimore Sarika Reuben
Orleans Public Defenders New Orleans Rebecca Cohn
Northern Virginia Capital Defender Office Arlington, Va. Vanessa Nickerson
The Defender Association Seattle Aida Fitzgerald
Washington Defender Association Seattle Regan, Jeremy
Public Interest Organizations
Alliance Defense Fund (working at Global Centurion through the Alliance Defense Fund) Phoenix and Washington, D.C. Abigail Friedman
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law Washington, D.C. Thomas Silverstein
Child Care Law Center San Francisco Lilit Sheymajash Edwards
EarthRights International Washington, D.C. Emily Ponder
Farmworker Justice Washington, D.C. Gilian Barkins
Legal Voice Washington, D.C. Nina Schwartz
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Washington, D.C. Andrew Lee
Pacific Legal Foundation Sacramento, Calif. Jonathan Williams
Southern Environmental Law Center Charlottesville, Va. Keith Sado
Sierra Club San Francisco Dustin Elliott
Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression Charlottesville, Va. Paul Griffith
state and local government
Attorney General of Georgia Atlanta Denise Letendre
Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office Charlottesville, Va. Grace Bielawski
Bexar County District Attorney's Office San Antonio Stephanie Beach
Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney's Office Charlottesville, Va. Christina Guidry
Commonwealth Attorney's Office for Henrico County and Commonwealth Attorney's Office for Hanover County Henrico and Hanover, Va. Sarah Ulmer
Cook County State's Attorney's Office Chicago Sean Roberts
Culpeper County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office Culpeper, Va. Wade Gelbert
District Attorney General's Office, Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Nashville, Tenn. Jeffrey George
Fulton County District Attorney's Office Atlanta Kimberly Myers
Jackson County Prosecutor's Office Kansas City, Mo. Evan Johnson
Kings County District Attorney's Office New York Gabriel Hippolyte
Kings County District Attorney's Office New York William Terrell
Lamar County and District Attorney's Office Paris, Texas Michael Small
Los Angeles Police Department, Office of the Inspector General Los Angeles Alyssa Fong-Kwan
New York County District Attorney's Office New York Scott Burton
New York State Attorney General's Office Albany, N.Y. SaeRhoMee Kim
New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety (Office of the Attorney General) Trenton, N.J. Monvan Hu
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Albany, N.Y. Margo Ludmer
Philadelphia District Attorney's Office Philadelphia Jasmine Wade
Orange County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office Orange, Va. Nathan Hittle
San Diego County District Attorney's Office San Diego Dane Dodd
San Diego County District Attorney's Office San Diego Jason Norinsky
Suffolk County District Attorney's Office Boston Philip Messier
Suffolk County District Attorney's Office Boston Margaret Sullivan
Westchester County District Attorney's Office White Plains, N.Y. Simon Cataldo
clinic
Williams Mullen Immigration Clinic Richmond, Va. Joshua Tully


REPORTED BY ERIC WILLIAMSON