Adams Named Powell Fellowship Winner
December 2015 Update: Adams has been with the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Center for more than four years and is currently serving as the assistant director. Previously she worked at the Children's Law Center in Washington, D.C., for six years.
Lise Adams is the recipient of the Law School's Powell Fellowship for the Class of 2003. The fellowship provides $35,000 a year for two years for a graduate entering a public service career. Adams will be working on child support payments enforcement for the District of Columbia Legal Aid Society, where she interned in the summer of her second year in law school.
Besides representing individual low-income women trying to collect child support, Adams will be doing outreach and training about the collection process as well as working for reforms to the system. She even contemplates the possibility of filing suit against the D.C. Child Support Enforcement Division, if they continue violating federal and local law.
"I can do so many different things I could never be bored," Adams said. "The attorneys at Legal Aid work extraordinarily hard, especially with child support cases. Since the welfare reform law there have been time limits imposed on cash assistance, so child support income has become increasingly important to poor mothers. If they are no longer eligible for welfare, child support payments typically account for a third of their income. And 25 percent of custodial mothers have never seen a dime of the amount the court said they are due."
Adams said she hopes to stay with Legal Aid for several years. "I really enjoy the direct services work. I came to the law school because a J.D. gives you one of the most effective tools for effecting social change."
Created in honor of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., a native of Richmond, the Powell Fellowship is designed to improve the delivery of legal services to the poor. First awarded last year, it provides a fellow's salary for two years with his or her benefits paid by the sponsoring public interest organization. Adams urged those interested in public interest law to prepare an application early because a candidate must show that a sponsor is willing to contribute the benefits portion and has the capacity to house another attorney.