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Penn Law Students Awarded Public Interest Fellowships & Government Honors Program Positions

April 14, 2010

University of Pennsylvania Law School graduates will join the cadre of leading public interest and government attorneys this fall as they embark on fellowship, scholarship and honors program opportunities throughout the U.S. and abroad. They will include five Department of Justice Honors Program attorneys, two Equal Justice Works Fellows, a Gates Cambridge Scholar, an Independence Fellow and a Skadden Fellow. In addition, several Penn Law graduates will be selected for public interest fellowships that the Law School itself has developed. The recipients of these career-launching Penn Law fellowships will be announced later this month. 

“For new lawyers, these fellowship and honors program opportunities provide unparalleled entry into the world of public interest and government lawyering,” said Penn Law Dean Michael A. Fitts. “Our students’ success in obtaining these highly selective positions speaks not only to their remarkable talent and potential, but also to their deep dedication to increasing access to justice and using the law to improve people’s lives.” 
As DOJ Honors Program attorneys, Frank Qi L’10 and Kevin Yeh L’10 will join the Department’s Antitrust Division, Erin Flynn L'08 will join the Civil Rights Division, and Daniel Schwei L’09 and Alexander Sverdlov L’10 will join the Civil Division.
The highly selective DOJ Honors Program is the only way an entry level attorney can join the Department of Justice. Each year, thousands of applicants compete for about 150 positions.
As Equal Justice Works Fellows, Charlotte Whitmore L’08 will join the Innocence Project of Pennsylvania, where she will work to exonerate wrongly convicted people and improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system; and Eliana Kaimowitz L’07 will join the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, where she will focus on immigrants’ rights issues.
The Equal Justice Works Fellowship Program is the largest postgraduate legal fellowship program in the country. The two-year fellowship offers salary and benefits and a national training and leadership development program to fellows. According to the program’s website, the fellowships were launched in 1992 to address the shortage of attorneys working on behalf of traditionally underserved populations and causes.
As a Gates Scholar, Amanda Marzullo L’08 will pursue an LLM in Law at the University of Cambridge. Marzullo, who holds a masters degree in criminology from Penn in addition to her JD, says her goal is to study the intersection between criminal law and the application of human rights in order to help those who are not served by the justice system.
The Gates Scholarship provides full funding for graduate students from outside the United Kingdom to study at the University of Cambridge. The scholarship is highly selective; this year, 800 American students applied, of whom 104 were interviewed and 29 selected. According to the Gates Foundation website, the scholarship is awarded on the basis of a person’s intellectual ability, leadership capacity and desire to use his or her knowledge to make contributions to society worldwide by providing service to communities and applying individual talents and knowledge to improve the lives of others. 
As an Independence Fellow, Maisha Elonai L’10 will join Philadelphia Volunteers for the Indigent Program (VIP), where she will represent homeowners in litigation and develop a pro bono referral network for low-income clients facing foreclosure.
According to the Independence Foundation’s website, the fellowship was created to enable some of the best and brightest law school graduates to come to the Philadelphia area and obtain employment with an organization based in the region that provides free legal services to poor and disadvantaged people. The fellowship provides salary, benefits and loan forgiveness to attorneys who represent people who cannot otherwise obtain the professional assistance they need to navigate the complicated judicial and administrative systems that affect their lives on a daily basis.
As a Skadden Fellow, Amy Retsinas L’09 will work at Rhode Island Legal Services providing direct representation, community outreach and education to enforce employment rights of low-wage workers state-wide.
The Skadden Fellowship program, described as a “a legal Peace Corps” by The Los Angeles Times, supports recent law school graduates who work for two years at a sponsoring organization of their choice to provide legal services to underserved members of society. The fellowship is highly selective; each year, the Skadden Fellowship Foundation receives hundreds of applications for approximately twenty-five fellowship openings.
Over the past three years, Penn Law has created three fellowships to support graduates beginning their public interest careers: the Langer, Grogan & Diver Fellowship in Social Justice, which supports a recent graduate launching a public interest career representing low-income, underrepresented communities in the Delaware Valley; the Toll Public Interest Center Philadelphia Fellowship, which acts as a bridge between the Center and Philadelphia’s public interest community by supporting a recent graduate who splits his or her time between serving clients at a public interest organization and working with Penn Law students at the Center; and the Penn Law Public Interest Fellowship, which supports a recent graduate launching a career at a national or international public interest organization. Recipients of these Penn Law funded public interest fellowships will be announced later this month.