Vivek Kembaiyan L’20 has been selected as a Law School Partnership Project (LSPP) Fellow by Gideon’s Promise, a non-profit public defender advocacy organization that provides training, leadership development, and mentorship to improve the quality of legal representation for the clients and communities they serve.
The LSPP introduces third-year law students to the successes and challenges that come with doing public defense work in jurisdictions with the greatest need, providing them with the opportunity to begin their career as a public defender and criminal justice reformer on the front lines of the effort to realize equal justice in America.
“I am committed to being the best public defender I can,” said Kembaiyan, “and I think that the training I would receive and the fellowship I would develop with other members of the community [is essential].”
Fellows will be placed in offices where mass incarceration plays a major role in underfunded and under-resourced communities. Kembaiyan will join Gideon’s Promise’s new partner office Still She Rises in Tulsa, Oklahoma this summer. The office is led by Gideon’s Promise alumni and faculty member, Aisha McWeay.
Kembaiyan is excited to be joining the Still She Rises office because he is truly invested in social justice.
“My long-term goal is to shift the national discourse on social justice,” he said. “In ten years, I want to have contributed to that effort in a meaningful way, on a statewide level.”
Founded in 2007 by Jonathan Rapping, the Gideon’s Promise has grown from a single training program for 16 attorneys in two public defender offices in Georgia and Louisiana to a national enterprise with 1,000 participants in 40 public defender offices across 27 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The organization’s initial three-year program for new public defenders has expanded into a comprehensive program model that supports public defenders at all levels of their careers.
Kembaiyan chose to apply for the fellowship because he felt that its mission was a “unique fit” for him.
“The training, the fellowship, the opportunity to work in an otherwise under-resourced office are so unique to this program,” Kembaiyan said.