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1L Diversity Fellows

September 06, 2022

Piper-Simone Casey L’24 and Michelle Rodriguez L’24, MBE’24 spent their summers as Ropes & Gray 1L Diversity Fellows.

Two University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School students were among Ropes & Gray’s 23 1L Diversity Fellows in its 2022 summer associate program. Piper-Simone Casey L’24 worked in the firm’s New York City office while Michelle Rodriguez L’24, MBE’24 worked in San Francisco.

Piper-Simone Casey L'24 Piper-Simone Casey L'24A summa cum laude graduate of Spelman College, Casey is Vice-President of the Black Law Students Association and serves on the Student Life and Wellness Committee of the Council of Student Representatives. As an undergraduate majoring in Political Science, she worked as a corporate governance intern for Chesapeake Utilities and as a legal intern with a Delaware law firm, where she maintained the firm’s client database and assisted in preparations for class-action lawsuits.

“This summer, I found that discovering what didn’t interest me was just as helpful as discovering what did interest me,” said Casey. “I spoke to several attorneys who provided great insight about how they found their practice areas and they became great resources for me – I’m glad to have met them.”

Michelle Rodriguez L?24, MBE?24 Michelle Rodriguez L’24, MBE’24Rodriguez served as a 1L representative for the Health Law and Policy Project, Penn Law Immigrant Rights Project, and First Generation Professionals. Prior to law school, Rodriguez supported numerous community organizations, including the LGBTQ Community Center and Jewish Family Services in San Diego. She also worked as a consultant with a national coaching company. Rodriguez graduated with honors from the University of California, San Diego with a BS in Neuroscience and Physiology and a BA in Modern Western Humanities.

“During my summer at the San Francisco office, their team helped me reaffirm my commitment to celebrating and uplifting marginalized communities like my own,” said Rodriguez. “I helped an immigrant family with their applications, resolving a complicated issue with their case and shadowing my supervising attorney during interviews with the family.”

Rodriguez’s strong interest in health law led the firm to extend a return offer for its New York City office next year.

“Learning about health law and how to increase marginalized communities’ access to quality, informed healthcare is especially important to me, as my family grapples with medical and financial insecurity,” said Rodriguez. “I am eager to continue my journey to a career in health law by training under healthcare specialists in the New York office next summer.”

Both students praised their experiences at the Law School for helping them to prepare for their fellowship experiences.

“Studying at Penn Carey Law has propelled me into a present and future that was unbelievable to me only one year ago,” said Rodriguez. “With the highly accessible and inexhaustible resources at the Law School, I have been able seek out the mentorship and learning opportunities I crave and blossom to my fullest.”

Casey specifically acknowledged Dorothy E. Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights.

“Professor Roberts’ ‘Reproductive Justice and Rights’ class really helped me better understand material in other classes, while encouraging me to think creatively about the law and continue challenging longstanding social norms,” she said.

In a press release, Ropes & Gray noted that this year’s class is the program’s largest ever.

The 1L Diversity Fellowship is an integral component of Ropes & Gray’s mission to attract and retain outstanding lawyers of varied backgrounds who have historically been underrepresented in the broader legal profession. Diversity fellows participate in all aspects of the firm’s summer program.

In addition, they have an opportunity to spend a portion of their summer working with a firm client and attending the 1L Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) Scholars Virtual Summit. Upon completion of the program, fellows are eligible to receive an offer to return for their 2L summer and a generous scholarship to offset the cost of their legal education.

Read more about law students’ experiences in fellowships and externships.