News & Events
Posted May 7, 2014

99 UVA Law Students Receive $438,000 to Work in Public Service This Summer

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PILA Fellows

From left, Joel King, Alyssa Pont (top), Cat Martin, Mario Peia and Andrew Chen are five of the 102 students who will receive grants to work in public service this summer. (More)

The University of Virginia School of Law and the student-run Public Interest Law Association will give $438,000 to 99 students working in public service jobs over the summer. Every student who applied and qualified for the funding is receiving a grant.

Contact: Mary Wood

"Your summer experiences are just an invaluable opportunity to figure out what it feels like to be a lawyer," said PILA President Sejal Jhaveri. "Because most [public service] employers don't pay, most people who get grants wouldn't be able to take the jobs they have without some sort of funding to support their summers."

The grants — $3,500 for first-years and $6,000 for second-years — support students in work ranging from federal government positions to jobs in prosecutors' and public defenders' offices, in legal aid, and with nonprofit advocacy organizations. (Full list of employers)

The 60 first-year and 39 second-year law students who received grants showed their dedication to public service by volunteering an average of 87 pro bono hours during their law school career.

"We had very strong applicants," Jhaveri said.

Those who receive grants must donate 20 hours back to PILA, usually by contributing to the group's fund-raising efforts, including the annual PILA auction and book sale.

PILA grant distribution: $438,000

PILA has expanded efforts in recent years to better educate students about public service careers. In 2012 the organization launched a mentoring program that matches first-year law students with upperclassmen interested in similar careers. This year, they launched an effort with the Public Service Center and the Program in Law and Public Service that matches students with alumni who are working in the field they are interested in pursuing.

Future applicants can use the list of employers hiring grantees to realize the variety of options available, Jhaveri said.

"I would just look at the breadth of different types of jobs that people have and see that there are lots of opportunities in different fields," she said.

Here's a snapshot of what a few of this year's PILA fellows are doing. Full list

Andrew Chen Andrew Chen '15

Hometown: Folsom, California

College/education: Williams College

Summer job: Public Counsel CARES, Los Angeles

What he'll be doing: This summer, I'll be providing direct legal services and promoting access to social resources for homeless and near-homeless persons in Los Angeles. I'll also be training law firm associates to provide these services.

Goals: I want to go into direct service after law school, so I'm excited to really get more on-the-ground experience with legal aid practice, and hopefully get a spark of inspiration for a fellowship project! But even more than that, I'm looking forward to being on my feet every day, instead of being in front of a computer, and throwing myself into work that I'm passionate about.
 

ChenJoel King '16

Hometown: Centreville, Michigan, and Goshen, Indiana

College/education: Goshen College

Summer job: Defenders of Wildlife, Washington, D.C.

What he'll be doing: Defenders works primarily with habitat conservation, so I'm planning on doing a lot of research and writing on habitat conservation topics.

Goals: I hope to one day work in the field of environmental law.  I feel that this internship will be a great stepping stone for that and provide me with invaluable experience in a vocational setting.  My main areas of interest lie in natural resources and conservation ecology, so this internship should fit right in with those.
 

Cat MartinCat Martin '15

Hometown: New Orleans

College: University of North Carolina, Greensboro

Summer job: Community Legal Services, Philadelphia

What she'll be doing: I will be in the Homeownership and Consumer Law Unit at CLS, which focuses its efforts on foreclosure prevention and fraudulent consumer practices (e.g. predatory lending) through direct client services and advocacy.

Goals: I intend to practice consumer protection law upon graduation and am hoping to secure a fellowship to do so in a legal aid setting. Unfortunately, while consumer protection services are sorely needed by many people, they are often out of financial reach. Through my pro bono work I have been exposed to some tangential, debt-collection defense cases for clients who were seeking assistance with their housing or other issues, but even many organizations that provide legal services to low-income families are unable to stretch their budgets to offer consumer protection services on a routine basis. CLS is an amazing organization that has attorneys dedicated to consumer law and also a long history of hosting UVA Law students as interns and fellows over the years, of which I am thrilled to be a part. I will be able to expand my knowledge of consumer protection law and advance my skills, while being a part of a renowned organization. I truly believe that I fell into my dream job for the upcoming summer, and I could not possibly be more excited about the opportunity. I am immensely thankful for PILA and its grant program that makes summer internships not only a possibility, but a reality for me and my fellow classmates.
 

Mario PeiaMario Peia '15

Hometown: West Windsor, New Jersey

College/education: University of Pennsylvania

Summer job: San Diego County District Attorney's Office (SDCDA), San Diego

What he'll be doing: I have been assigned to the Gang Prosecution Unit, where I will be working with prosecutors in all phases of prosecution. I will be using my California practice certificate to appear in court.

Goals: As an aspiring federal prosecutor, this summer is an opportunity to gain trial skills and begin to get direct experience from inside the court room. The SDCDA presented the perfect opportunity to appear in court with a practice certificate, while simultaneously working on interesting and engaging issues.
 

Alyssa PontAlyssa Pont '16

Hometown: Sterling, Virginia

College/education: Princeton University

Summer job: International Finance Corporation, Mexico City

What she'll be doing: I'll be supporting investments and projects with companies located in the emerging markets of Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. I will also research tasks related to international investment in these emerging markets, as well as the impact of legal developments in these countries on international investment. My work will include assisting the local enactment of IFC’s articles of agreement through treaties and local enabling legislation, and organizing financial workshops for the local community and IFC partners.

Goals: I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the IFC this summer because it will enable me to pursue my passion for international law, economic and social development, and Latin America, all at the same time. As an undergraduate, I was an international relations major, with a minor in Latin American studies, and I focused my independent research on issues of poverty and development in this region. My interest in this area was one of the reasons I decided to go to law school. I am really interested to learn how the law interacts with the process of development, and to see how financial tools can be used to foster responsible and sustainable development. Also, I am excited to learn more about transactional work, since my experience in the legal field thus far has focused on direct services. And, of course, I am really looking forward to getting to experience the art, culture and food of Mexico City!
 

PILA Grant Employers, Summer 2014

Federal Government
Federal Communications Commission Washington, D.C.
U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge James A. Wynn Jr. Raleigh, North Carolina
U.S. Attorney's Office, Charlottesville Charlottesville, Virginia
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia Washington, D.C.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia Washington, D.C.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia Washington, D.C.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia Washington, D.C.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia Washington, D.C.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia Washington, D.C.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia Washington, D.C.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia Washington, D.C.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Minnesota Minneapolis, Minnesota
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey Newark, New Jersey
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon Portland, Oregon
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York Brooklyn, New York
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York Brooklyn, New York
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia, Criminal Division Alexandria, Virginia
U.S. Attorney's Office, Puerto Rico San Juan, Puerto Rico
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California San Diego, California
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California, Criminal Division San Diego, California
U.S. Attorney's Office, Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C.
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas San Antonio, Texas
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia Roanoke, Virginia
U.S. Committee on House Administration Washington, D.C.
U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Office of Special Masters Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section (split summer) Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, National Security Division Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, National Security Division Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Foreign Litigation Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Tax Division, Financial Litigation Unit Washington, D.C.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Washington, D.C.
U.S. Marine Corps Quantico, Virginia
U.S. Navy Groton, Connecticut
U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps Norfolk, Virginia
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill Washington, D.C.
U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Washington, D.C.
International
International Finance Corporation Mexico City, Mexico
Parliamentary Monitoring Group Cape Town, South Africa
U.N. Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate New York, New York
Local and State Government (Including Prosecution)
Arlington County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office Arlington, Virginia
California Attorney General's Office Sacramento, California
California Attorney General's Office Sacramento, California
California Attorney General's Office, Employment and Administrative Mandate Section Sacramento, California
Camden County Prosecutor's Office Camden, New Jersey
City of Philadelphia Law Department Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office Charlotte, North Carolina
Nassau County District Attorney's Office Mineola, New York
Prince William County Attorney's Office Manassas, Virginia
San Diego County District Attorney's Office San Diego, California
Santa Barbara County District Attorney's Office Santa Barbara, California
University of Virginia Office of General Counsel Charlottesville, Virginia
Virginia Beach City Attorney's Office Virginia Beach, Virginia
Nonprofit Organizations
ACLU Women's Rights Project New York, New York
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Washington, D.C.
Community Legal Services of Philadelphia Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Defenders of Wildlife Washington, D.C.
Environmental Law Institute (split summer) Washington, D.C.
Hawaii Appleseed Center Honolulu, Hawaii
Laborers International Union of North America Washington, D.C.
Legal Aid Justice Center Charlottesville, Virginia
Legal Aid Justice Center Charlottesville, Virginia
Legal Aid Justice Center Charlottesville, Virginia
Legal Aid Justice Center Charlottesville, Virginia
Legal Aid Justice Center, Immigrant Advocacy Program Charlottesville, Virginia
Legal Aid Justice Center, JustChildren Program Charlottesville, Virginia
Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services Chicago, Illinois
Legal Services of Northern Virginia Fairfax, Virginia
Legal Aid Society of Orange County Santa Ana, California
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Law Foundation Washington, D.C.
New York Legal Assistance Group New York, New York
Public Counsel Los Angeles, California
Southern Environmental Law Center Charlottesville, Virginia
Southern Environmental Law Center Charlottesville, Virginia
The Legal Aid Society New York, New York
The Legal Aid Society New York, New York
Yale Law School Legal Services Organization New Haven, Connecticut
Public Defenders
Alaska Public Defender Agency Anchorage, Alaska
Alexandria Public Defender Alexandria, Virginia
Alexandria Public Defender Alexandria, Virginia
Arizona Capital Representation Project Tucson, Arizona
Fairfax County Public Defender Fairfax, Virginia
Fairfax County Public Defender Fairfax, Virginia
Federal Capital Habeas Project, Federal Public Defender's Office Greenbelt, Maryland
Mecklenburg County Public Defender Office Charlotte, North Carolina
Augusta Circuit Public Defender Office Augusta, Georgia
Orleans Public Defenders New Orleans, Louisiana
The Bronx Defenders Bronx, New York
The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia Washington, D.C.
The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia Washington, D.C.
The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia Washington, D.C.