Click on the profile of any staff member below for more information, including bios and instructions on how to make an advising appointment.
Erica Smock has been the dean for the Office of Public Interest/Public Service Law and Careers at Columbia Law School since 2017.
Prior to joining Columbia, Dean Smock had a distinguished public interest career focused primarily on women’s rights advocacy. Most recently, she served as the senior director for Judicial Strategy & Lawyers Network at the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York City, where she led strategic campaigns around the center’s domestic litigation, including the successful U.S. Supreme Court abortion case Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt (2016).
After graduating from Columbia in 1995, Dean Smock clerked for the Hon. Anita B. Brody, U.S. District Court, E.D. PA, and Hon. Leonard I. Garth, U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit. After spending one year as an associate at O’Melveny & Myers (where she engaged in pro bono work on women’s rights and domestic violence), she worked as a staff attorney at Legal Aid Services of Oregon and as regional staff attorney at the Northwest Women's Law Center (now Legal Voice) in Seattle. Dean Smock then became legislative counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, where she directed the national state legislative program and engaged in advocacy on reproductive rights issues. After working at the PI/PS Office for a number of years, she returned to the Center for Reproductive Rights in 2014 to its newly formed judicial strategy team.
In addition, Dean Smock has spent time as a short-term volunteer attorney focusing on human rights and women's rights in Kenya and South Africa and with the Pascua Yaqui tribe in Arizona. She has served as a consultant to the Laura and John Arnold Foundation on access to justice issues. Currently she serves as vice chair of the American Bar Association's Rights of Women Committee in the Civil Rights and Social Justice Section and is a member of both the Center for Reproductive Rights Lawyers Network Advisory Committee and the Social Justice Legal Foundation's Advisory Board. Additionally, she serves on the Columbia Law School Anti-Racist Steering Committee (2020-21).
Dean Smock graduated from Brown University with a bachelor's degree with honors in political science.
To make an appointment with Dean Smock, please do so via email.
Marka Belinfanti is the assistant director of pro bono and summer programs. Prior to joining the Office of Social Justice Initiatives, Marka Belinfanti was the assistant director of the Office of Judicial Clerkships at Columbia Law School. She counseled J.D. students and alumni regarding state and federal clerkships. In that role, she also implemented a broad range of professional development programs to support candidates as they navigated the clerkship application process.
Marka graduated from Fordham University School of Law and earned her undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College. Following law school, Marka served as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society, where she defended low-income tenants in eviction proceedings and partnered with community-based organizations to provide direct legal services in underserved neighborhoods. After Legal Aid, Marka worked at various New York law firms specializing in consumer and class action litigation. Prior to joining Columbia, Marka advised students at Fordham Law on all aspects of the legal career and professional development process, focusing on opportunities with the judiciary, government agencies, and law firms. Before that, at the University of Richmond School of Law, she served as the director of career development for public sector careers.
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To make an appointment with Marka, please do so via Symplicity.
Area of counseling expertise: (1Ls), 2Ls, 3Ls, Postgraduate Fellowships, Public Interest Lawyering, Constitutional Law, Intersectional Practice
Joel previously worked as an attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, where he focused on innovative legal strategies, thought leadership, and intersectional coalition building to advance reproductive rights in the courts, including leading the amicus brief strategy at the U.S. Supreme Court in the recent abortion rights case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Before joining the Center for Reproductive Rights, Joel was an associate at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, where he worked on a wide range of civil litigation and pro bono matters. He authored U.S. Supreme Court amicus briefs supporting reproductive rights and voting rights. He also developed the argument in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court defending the Affordable Care Act in King v. Burwell, which was referenced by several justices during oral arguments.
Joel also serves as co-chair of the American Constitution Society’s New York Lawyer Chapter, where he has published reports and organized programming on a variety of legal and policy issues, including healthcare, COVID-19, and child poverty. He has also written about law, policy, and politics for online outlets. He has also served as a legal and policy advisor to candidates for public office, including President Biden’s 2020 campaign, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, and Kathryn Garcia’s 2021 campaign for New York City mayor.
Joel has also been an adjunct lecturer in Columbia’s Legal Practice Workshop since 2019.
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To make an appointment with Joel, please do so via email.
Area of counseling expertise: Berger Fellows Program
Jean Fischman (she/her) is the Associate Director of the Max Berger ’71 Public Interest/Public Service Fellows Program. Before joining SJI, Jean worked at Bronx Legal Services, where she supervised attorneys and paralegals fighting to preserve affordable housing in the Bronx. As Supervising Attorney, Jean worked closely with organizing partners to litigate discrimination and harassment cases against corporate bad actor landlords. Jean began her legal career as a Fellow at Legal Services Corporation in the Office of General Counsel, where she drafted advisory opinions, assisted in notice and comment rulemaking, and reviewed the Corporation’s contracts. Prior to entering law school, Jean served as Chief of Staff for a New York State Assembly Member, where she managed the Assembly Member’s Albany and District Offices.
Jean received a J.D. from CUNY Law School in 2015 and B.A. from Hunter College, where she served as a Public Service Scholar. She is admitted to practice in New York.
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Area of counseling expertise: Public Defense
Emily Harris is a former public defender who joined the PI/PS office in the summer of 2023. Prior to joining PI/PS, Emily defended young people and adults in Bergen County Criminal Courts with the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, and represented clients in housing court with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem's Housing Defense Team.
Emily was a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholar at NYU Law and graduated cum laude in 2019. At NYU she was co-president of the Washington Square Legal Services Bail Fund and a staff editor of the Review of Law and Social Change. Through her clinical experiences and summer internships, Emily has represented adults and young people in criminal, housing, family, and immigration court.
Prior to law school, Emily worked with community groups seeking to end gun violence as a Paralegal in the Community Justice Unit of the Legal Aid Society of New York. She has also served as a Policy Analyst for the Council of State Governments Justice Center where she worked with courts and judges to improve mental health courts and pretrial policies nationwide. Emily also worked to advance holistic defense with public defender offices across the country through the Community-Oriented Defender Network at the Brennan Center for Justice and with the National Legal Aid and Defender Association.
She holds an undergraduate degree from NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study focused on Welfare State Politics. Emily is admitted to practice in New York and New Jersey.
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Area of counseling expertise: Government
Before joining Social Justice Initiatives, Alex worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, practicing civil litigation focused on both affirmative and defensive matters, including investigating government fraud, affirmative civil rights enforcement, and defending Freedom of Information Act suits. In that role, Alex developed comprehensive litigation skills by independently managing a docket from case inception through appeal.
Prior to his position at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Alex clerked for the Honorable Nina Gershon in the Eastern District of New York and the Honorable James L. Cott in the Southern District of New York. Prior to being a clerk, Alex was a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where he worked on a diverse array of civil litigation and pro bono matters. While at Paul, Weiss, Alex drafted amicus briefs submitted to both the U.S. Supreme Court and the New York Court of Appeals. Additionally, Alex engaged in direct representation of pro bono clients, including individuals seeking asylum in the United States. During the 2018 election, Alex, along with other Paul, Weiss associates, volunteered to do voter protection work in Native American communities in Montana.
Alex received his B.A. from New York University and his J.D. from Columbia Law School. He is admitted to practice in New York.
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Mondays and Wednesdays: Room 807
Tuesdays: Room 805
Area of counseling expertise: Human Rights & Public International Law
Kerry McLean is an international human rights lawyer and social justice activist. Over the past 17 years, Kerry has lived in Africa, Europe, and Asia, working with local and international organizations on human rights and international development.
She has engaged in significant U.N. advocacy, including litigation with treaty-monitoring bodies, writing shadow reports concerning compliance with CERD, CEDAW, and CAT, Human Rights Council advocacy, coordinating civil society organizations for UPR reports, and working with U.N. Special Procedures mandate holders. Kerry has worked on litigation at the European Court of Human Rights and has done advocacy at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. She has provided training and delivered lectures on international human rights in the United States and other parts of the world.
Kerry has served as an election observer in Cambodia, Honduras, Venezuela, El Salvador, and Abkhazia. She has also served as a trial observer in Turkey for trials involving persecuted lawyers and human rights defenders, and she organizes solidarity activities for Turkey with multiple organizations. She is a member of the Geneva Support Group for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in Western Sahara, an international advocacy coalition that supports the fight of the Saharawi people for independence and self-determination.
Kerry serves as the vice chair for rule of law for the ABA SIL International Human Rights Committee, Women's Interest Network, and Africa Committee. She is a former national board member of the National Lawyers Guild and currently chairs its Africa Subcommittee. She is the recipient of the guild's 2021 Debra Evenson Venceremos International Award for her work "extending justice beyond borders."
Kerry is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, where she received the Jenny Runkles Award for devotion to public interest and was a two-time recipient of the Bates Fellowship for overseas work. She is admitted to practice in New York.
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To make an appointment with Kerry, please do so via email.
Area of counseling expertise: 1Ls, 3Ls, Graduates, LL.M.s, Financing a Public Interest Career, Civil Rights Law Firms, Transitioning Between Sectors
Tory Messina is an attorney with over seven years of experience counseling law students and alumni on how to achieve their public interest and government career goals. Prior to joining the PI/PS Office, Tory worked at Lawyers Alliance for New York as the pro bono manager, helping to connect attorneys with opportunities to assist nonprofits with transactional pro bono legal work. Tory previously worked at University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she is an alumnae, as the associate director of public interest and government counseling, helping students and alumni with a broad range of career interests including civil legal services, impact and advocacy organizations, local, state and federal government, public defenders, and alternatives to traditional practice. She also has expertise in Columbia's Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) and private civil rights law firms.
Prior to her work at University of Pennsylvania Law School, Tory coordinated New York and national pro bono and legal services projects at Pro Bono Net. Tory also has worked at a private law firm and managed a small business. She graduated from Brown University with a degree in history. She is admitted to practice in New York.
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Area of counseling expertise: Direct Services, Immigration, Housing, Welfare Benefits, and LGBTQ+ Advocacy
From July 2017 to November 2022, Hasan Shafiqullah was the attorney-in-charge of the Legal Aid Society’s Immigration Law Unit, one of the largest nonprofit immigration practices in the country. For the past 26 years, he has represented clients in a range of civil legal services matters, initially in a mix of housing eviction defense, family law, name changes, credit issues, wills and trusts, tax, and related matters, and since 2009 in immigration law. Hasan was part of the Legal Aid Society’s litigation teams challenging the Trump Administration’s public charge rules in Make the Road New York v. Cuccinelli, 19 Civ. 7993 (S.D.N.Y.) and Make the Road New York v. Pompeo, 19 Civ. 11633 (S.D.N.Y) (regarding the Department of Homeland Security and Department of State’s public charge rules, respectively), and challenging the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s practice of arresting noncitizens appearing in and around New York State criminal, housing, and family courts, in Doe v. ICE, 19 Civ. 8892 (S.D.N.Y.). He is a member of the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Immigration Representation and the New York City Bar Association’s Immigration and Nationality Law Committee, is past a lecturer in law at Columbia Law School, and is a current adjunct professor of immigration law at Cardozo School of Law. Hasan is a graduate of the University of California Hastings College of the Law and of the University of Arizona and holds a certificate in French to English legal translation from New York University.
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Area of counseling expertise: public interest, employment and housing, civil rights, nonprofit management, and mediation
Grace Shim '06 is a specialist career adviser at Columbia Law School.
Grace began her career litigating child abuse and neglect cases in the Bronx County Family Court at NYC's Administration for Children's Services. She subsequently served as a staff attorney, deputy director, and then executive director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action in Flushing, NY. After that, Grace worked at the California Civil Rights Department (California CRD), where she litigated cases of employment and housing discrimination, including systemic and high impact cases. Prior to joining Columbia, Grace served as senior attorney mediator at California CRD. She was also an adjunct professor at the University of California, Davis Law School for several years.
Grace received a B.A. with honors from the University of California, Berkeley and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. She is admitted to practice in New York and California.
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