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Cartagena to discuss criminal justice reform at Public Interest Week

February 19, 2018

Penn Law’s 10th annual Public Interest Week begins today and runs until February 23, bringing noted bringing noted public interest lawyers, including this year’s Public Interest Week Honorary Fellow-in-Residence Juan Cartagena, to the Law School for a variety of panels and discussions.

To commemorate the 10th year of this celebration, an Alumni Summit will be the capstone to the week. The discussion, “Leading through Adversity,” will bring together distinguished alumni to share best practices for advancing equity and justice everywhere — from West Philadelphia schools to local and federal government.

Each year, the Toll Public Interest Center awards an Honorary Fellowship to an attorney working at the forefront of an important public interest legal issue. The Honorary Fellow spends several days at the law school engaged in formal and informal conversations with faculty and students about the nature of their work.

“Juan Cartagena is a highly experienced litigator who is a powerful example of how a civil rights lawyer can advocate for the political representation of marginalized communities,” said Arlene Rivera Finkelstein, Associate Dean for Public Interest Programs and Executive Director of the Toll Public Interest Center. “From immigration and criminal justice reform, to tragic natural disasters, Mr. Cartagena’s organization has been at the forefront of the most critical issues our country is facing. We are excited and honored for the opportunity to learn from him.”

Cartagena is the President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF, a national civil rights public interest law office that represents Latinas and Latinos throughout the country and works to increase their entry into the legal profession. He is one of the nation’s leading voices on equality and nondiscrimination, and he has successfully used the law to effectuate systems change for the benefit of marginalized communities.

The Law School’s 2018 Public Interest Week will also feature guest speaker Cecillia Wang. Wang is a deputy legal director at the national ACLU and directs the Center for Democracy, which encompasses the ACLU’s work on immigrants’ rights, voting rights, national security, human rights, and speech, privacy, and technology. 

In addition to consulting with students and faculty, both Cartagena and Wang will participate in multiple PI Week events. Cartagena will deliver a talk on elevating the voices of Latinos in criminal justice, policing, and drug policy reform, and Wang will lead a discussion on the Trump Administration’s first year in office. Together, both Cartagena and Wang will also lead a discussion with students on strategies for successful advocacy.

Penn Law’s 10th Annual Public Interest Week is coordinated by the Toll Public Interest Center, which is the hub of public service at Penn Law. The week includes a range of programming, much of which is planned by students for students. TPIC oversees the Penn Law pro bono program, facilitating a wide array of pro bono and public service opportunities through which students engage in impactful service while honing critical legal skills. In addition to administering the pro bono graduation requirement, TPIC is home to all of Penn Law’s public interest programming, including the Toll Public Interest Scholars program.