Skip to main content

Public interest fellows to advocate for civil and criminal justice worldwide

July 28, 2021

Upon graduation, eighteen 2021 graduates will pursue important and diverse public interest work with the support of prestigious fellowship funding.

Upon graduation, 18 graduates of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s Class of 2021 will pursue important and diverse public interest work with the support of prestigious fellowship funding.

Nearly half of the fellowship cohort intends to focus on work that either directly or tangentially relates to criminal defense and criminal justice reform. Others will focus their efforts on human rights law, civil services, and safeguarding democracy. In their placements, fellows will advocate for a range of historically excluded groups, including Native American communities, low-income clients, youth, seniors, and people living with disabilities.

JD Fellows

Catalyst fellowships

Jon Blomberg L’21 will work as a member of The Docket at the Clooney Foundation for Justice, where he will work on investigating and gathering evidence about violations of international criminal law, which may include war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity, and the roles that different individuals and groups may have played in committing or enabling these human rights abuses. Blomberg will advocate for those who have been subjected to international crimes and for broader reforms that will help hold accountable perpetrators and enablers of human rights violations.

Emily Galik L’21 plans to work as a public interest attorney in her home state of Maryland. Galik aims to blend her interests in civil litigation and direct client services and to kickstart a career in government service.

Matthew Jerrehian L’21 plans to pursue a career in public defense and will work as a public defender at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, representing people accused of crimes who cannot afford to hire an attorney. Jerrehian’s work during the Catalyst Fellowship will include representing clients in misdemeanor and felony trials as well as in juvenile adjudications.

Sanjay Jolly L’21 will be a Fellow at Free Press, an organization dedicated to strengthening democracy in our media system. Working with the Free Press organizing team and local coalitions, Jolly will conduct legal advocacy to revitalize journalism infrastructures, center racial justice in information policy-making, and uplift local voices. He will also provide legal support for Media 2070, a project to advance media reparations.

Chad Keizer L’21 will work with Colorado Legal Services to provide civil legal services to residents in rural communities. Keizer will provide direct representation and legal advice to clients on matters relating to housing, consumer debt, public benefits, and family well-being.

Anna Malone L’21 will work with the Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Community Defender for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to advocate on behalf of indigent prisoners who have been sentenced to death. Malone will also work on a systemic challenge to the Pennsylvania death penalty as well as other state-based challenges to capital punishment.

Caroline Mansour L’21 will be working in the New York State Office of the Attorney General’s Division of Criminal Justice. Mansour will help review potentially erroneous convictions for the Conviction Review Bureau and also assist prosecutors in the Office of Special Investigation who investigate and prosecute cases in which law enforcement officers cause the death of others.

Rachel Neckes L’21 will work at the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, Appellate Section, providing representation to indigent adults and young people who are appealing rulings from their New Jersey trial court cases. Neckes will focus on the expansion of post-conviction advocacy and meaningful sentencing review for individuals who were convicted of crimes as adolescents and given life with parole sentences.

Noah Schoenholtz L’21 will work at the SeniorLAW Center where he will represent older adults in housing matters to save and maintain their homes. Schoenholtz will also engage in community outreach and education to seniors about available programs including city repair and property tax assistance programs.

Rebecca Wallace L’21 will work at the trial division of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Philadelphia where she will review discovery, conduct discrete research projects, and draft complaints, research memos, and sections of briefs. Wallace will also investigate claims and draft letters of determination to make recommendations as to whether a claim has litigation potential.

Project-based fellowships

Emily deLisle L’21 will work with the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) to support access to voting rights for Native Americans living on reservations. Funded by the University of Pennsylvania Law Review Fellowship, deLisle will focus specifically on addressing the barriers posed by the lack of on-reservation voter services, including the absence of registration opportunities, ballot drop boxes, and polling places in many Native communities. She will assist Tribes in working with state and local officials to establish these much-needed services and will also help develop litigation strategies to ensure that Native people have meaningful access to the ballot.

Lynn McDonough L’21 will work with the Legal Clinic for the Disabled to provide legal services at supportive housing residences for Philadelphians with serious mental illness to promote long-term housing stability and wellness. Funded by the Langer, Grogan & Diver Fellowship in Social Justice, McDonough will advise and represent clients on matters related to disability benefits, identity and advanced-planning documents, custody, and criminal record expungement.

Ariel Shapell L’21 will work with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, employing litigation and advocacy to reform Pennsylvania’s probation detainer practices. Each year, Pennsylvania harmfully and needlessly incarcerates thousands of people accused of violating conditions of their probation without providing adequate due process. The unrestrained use of probation detainers is a primary driver of the state’s mass incarceration crisis. Shapell’s work is funded by the Toll Public Interest Fellowship.

National fellowships

Lauren Davis L’21 will work with Community Legal Services to increase access to safe, healthy housing for the most vulnerable Philadelphians. Philadelphia’s aging housing stock has serious habitability issues that fall most heavily on low-income tenants. As an Independence Fellow, Davis will file affirmative litigation against problematic landlords who neglect to make necessary repairs, create a toolkit that housing advocates can use to remedy habitability issues, and engage in community outreach efforts in partnership with tenants’ rights groups.

Kate DiVasto L’21 will work with the Youth Advocacy Foundation to provide client-centered legal representation and systemic advocacy for adolescents in the foster care system. As an Equal Justice Fellow, DiVasto will engage with young people currently or previously in foster care to collect information that will help policymakers create community-based resources that best serve youth in the underserved Springfield area. Kate will also train child advocates and pro bono attorneys in techniques for ensuring that youth in foster care have access to tailored transitional services and/or special education needs.

Erik Nickels L’21 will work with Mental Health Advocacy Services in Los Angeles to establish a medical-legal partnership for transition-age youth with mental health needs. Funded by the Skadden Fellowship, Nickels will utilize both direct legal service work and impact litigation.

LLM Fellows

Two LLM graduates secured fellowship funding through the Law School’s LLM Postgraduate Public Interest Fellowship Program:

Meri Baghdasaryan LLM’21 will join the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and support efforts to champion user privacy, free expression, and innovation through impact litigation, advocacy, and policy analysis.

Hugh Fitzgibbon LLM’21 will join the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s TrialWatch program and will monitor trials of journalists, women, LGBTQ persons, human rights defenders, and minorities and advocate for those who are unjustly imprisoned. The division seeks to expose and stop ongoing violations, obtain compensation or relief for those whose rights have been violated, and promote lasting systemic change.

Learn more about public service opportunities at the Law School