Law School, PILA Give Record $483,074 in Summer Public Service Fellowships to 109 Students
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)
"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."
Ashley Matthews, outgoing Public
Interest Law Association president
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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|Williams Mullen Immigration Clinic||Richmond, Va.||Joshua Tully|
REPORTED BY ERIC WILLIAMSON