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Laily Sheybani L’18

Laily Sheybani L’18

I am forever grateful to have been chosen as a Toll Scholar, not only because of the debt relief, but also because of my passionate and brilliant scholar cohort– a group that zealously challenges the inequities of our legal system and that acts as a constant source of energy, support, and inspiration for me.

Laily graduated from Northwestern University, where she broadened her understanding of the American legal system and the miscarriages of justice that weaken it. As an undergraduate, Laily received a grant to conduct independent research on eyewitness identification procedures. Her senior thesis, “That’s Him, Officer!” (Or Is It?): The Effects of Unarticulated Instructions on Eyewitness Accuracy in Culprit Recognition, won the Best Thesis Award in the Legal Studies department at Northwestern. Her thesis also won the American Sociological Association’s Outstanding Undergraduate Student Essay Award. 

Laily spent two summers at home working as an investigator in the Trial Division at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (DC PDS). After graduation, Laily moved to Brooklyn and continued to pursue indigent defense work. She worked as an investigator at Brooklyn Defender Services and investigated over one thousand cases of alleged criminal activity. Laily spent her first law school summer working with the Office for Access to Justice at the US Department of Justice to support the development of quality indigent defense systems at the state and federal level. She spent her 2L fall externing at the Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in the Capital Habeas Unit and her 2L spring externing at the ACLU of Pennsylvania. She was thrilled to return to the DC PDS Trial Division as a law clerk during her second law school summer. 

On campus, Laily was the Editor-in-Chief of Volume 21 of the Journal of Law and Social Change, the Co-President of the Equal Justice Foundation, the Social and Internal Relations Chair of the Penn Carey Law chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and the Development and Outreach Editor of the Civil Rights Law Project. She was also a member of the Criminal Defense Clinic.

Laily is eager and excited to begin her legal career at the Defender Association of Philadelphia, where she will work as a staff attorney after graduation (in the city that she has come to adore). As a public defender, she will strive to disrupt a status quo that has normalized a culture of mass incarceration of poor minorities.

In her free time, Laily likes doing crossword puzzles, eating Iranian food, and running along the Schuylkill.