Law School Names Caplin, Fairstein Fellows

July 2, 2009

The Law School has announced the recipients of two prestigious public service fellowship programs.

Peggy Nicholson

Sara Wood, Erin Crowgey and Tommy Krepp were named Mortimer Caplin Public Service Fellows, and Mario Lorello, Peggy Nicholson and Sally Handmaker were named Linda A. Fairstein Public Service Fellows.

"I'm really very honored to receive this fellowship, " Nicholson said. "I think it's wonderful that there are donors who realize the importance of public interest internships and provide the funds to support UVA students in this work."

This summer, Nicholson is working with the Fair Trial Initiative in Durham, N.C., where she is helping ensure defendants in capital cases are capably represented.

"I have found the Public Service Center and [the Public Interest Law Association] to be very supportive in my efforts to find my place in the public interest world, " she said. "I have also found many of my classmates are equally passionate about public interest work, which makes me excited about the rest of my time at UVA."

Sara Wood

Wood entered law school knowing she wanted to become a public interest attorney.

She has volunteered for the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society working on domestic violence cases and spent the summer after her first year at South Brooklyn Legal Services in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"The support of the fellowship has allowed me to take on an unpaid internship with Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, " Wood said. "I will not only be able to help indigent clients but also further my career goal of becoming a poverty law attorney."

Lorello was convinced to pursue a career in prosecution after a summer working for the Alexandria Commonwealth's Attorney. He is now working for the Chesterfield County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office and hopes to work as a prosecutor in Virginia after he graduates.

"It's exciting to be awarded this fellowship, " Lorello said. "Those who do public interest work aren't always recognized, and that's particularly true for those interested in prosecution.

"The support and atmosphere at UVA are phenomenal, " he said. "Even those who don't work in the Public Service Center go out of their way to provide you with information, networking opportunities and overall support in whatever it is you're doing."

Handmaker, who studied child abuse and worked in the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office while in college, is spending the summer working for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section. There, she is focusing on complex evidentiary questions raised by the advent of new technologies.

"Part of what brought me to UVA was the emphasis that the school placed on pro bono and public service work, " Handmaker said. "I am honored and grateful to have received the Linda A. Fairstein Fellowship, as my summer experience would not have been possible without the generous assistance of PILA and donors like Linda Fairstein."

These fellowship programs were established in the names of Mortimer M. Caplin and Linda A. Fairstein in order to enable more students to pursue public-interest work. They provide funding for PILA grants, which are awarded to students who choose to take public-interest jobs during their first or second-year summers.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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