Meet the SJI Team

Click on the profile of any staff member below for more information, including bios and instructions on how to make an advising appointment.

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Our Staff

Dean Eric Smock

Erica Smock has been the Dean for Social Justice Initiatives and Public Service Lawyering 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 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 SJI 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 ABA'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.

Dean Smock's 2020-2021 Year in Review

"A New Leader at Social Justice Initiatives"

To make an appointment with Dean Smock, please do so via email.

Joel Headshot

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 Supreme Court in the recent abortion-rights case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

Before joining the Center, 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 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.

Kerry McClean

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 United Nations advocacy, including litigation with treaty-monitoring bodies, writing shadow reports concerning compliance with CERD, CEDAW and CAT, Human Rights Council advocacy, coordinating organizations for UPR reports, and working with U.N. Special Procedures mandate holders. She has provided training and delivered lectures on international human rights in the U.S. 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 is the vice chair for rule of law for the American Bar Association International Human Rights Committee and holds the same position for the association's Women's Interest Network. She is a former board member of the National Lawyers Guild and currently chairs its Africa Subcommittee. 

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.


Nadine Mompremier

Nadine F. Mompremier is the Assistant Director of Pro Bono and Summer Programs, where she oversees the administration of Columbia's Pro Bono program and summer funding programs, including Guaranteed Summer Funding (GSF), and works closely with students who are engaged with these programs.

Prior to joining Columbia Law School, Nadine was a Law Coach at Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), where she counseled and advised SEO Fellows on navigating and excelling in their corporate law internships and first year of law school and provided guidance on professional development, networking, and drafting legal memoranda. Nadine started her legal career as an Associate at the law firms of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Ropes & Gray, where she engaged extensively in pro bono work including matters related to various legal clinics, voter and election protection, and visa, residency, and asylum applications, while specializing in executive compensation and employee benefits, a practice that consisted of advising private equity clients in all benefits, compensation, and employment aspects of mergers and acquisitions, including structuring management equity arrangements and negotiating employment agreements, deferred compensation, and other incentive arrangements. 

Nadine graduated cum laude from the Howard University School of Law, where she served as the Executive Solicitations & Submissions Editor of the Howard Law Journal, and earned her undergraduate degree in Law & Business from Temple University, where she served as student body president.

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To make an appointment with Nadine, please do so via email

Devi Patel, smiling with an ivy-covered wall behind her

Devi Patel is the Director of the Public Interest/Public Service (PI/PS) Fellows Program at Columbia Law School. She supports PI/PS Fellows through individual advising and a robust curriculum of programs, resources, and initiatives.

Devi is an attorney with experience providing civil legal aid services to low-income New Yorkers. She began her career as a Staff Attorney and Poverty Justice Solutions Fellow at Sanctuary for Families. She focused on protecting and advancing the rights of domestic violence and human trafficking survivors who faced challenges that threatened their economic stability. She represented clients in a wide variety of cases and provided legal advice to hundreds of New Yorkers through the New York City Family Justice Centers, an initiative of the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic and Gender-Based Violence. Devi went on to join Legal Information for Families Today as the Pro Bono Programs Manager, where she oversaw the development of a statewide pro bono program established to increase access to justice for New Yorkers navigating the complex Family Court process. She trained and supervised pro bono attorneys and managed partnerships with the judiciary, legal services organizations, law firms, and law schools.

During law school, Devi worked for Safe Horizon’s Domestic Violence Law Project, Sanctuary for Families’ Immigration Intervention Project, and Safe Passage Project. She is a graduate of New York Law School, where she was a Carbonell Fellow in Law and Policy and recipient of the Alexander D. Forger Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession for her commitment to serving the public interest. Devi serves on Social Justice Initiatives' Racial Justice Subcommittee and the New York City Bar’s Diversity Pipeline Initiatives Committee. She has developed and presented CLE programs, conference presentations, and law school seminars on cultural competency in the legal profession. She is admitted to practice in New York.

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To make an appointment with Devi, please do so via Symplicity or email.


Area of counseling expertise: Federal, State and Local Government

Rachel Salem Pauley is the Director of Government Programs in the Office of Social Justice Initiatives at CLS and has been a Lecturer-in-Law since 2014.  In her role, she has counseled hundreds of law students and graduates with regard to public service careers and professional development opportunities. She is also responsible for the law school’s semester in Washington, D.C. program. She has focused on developing and overseeing formal programming with government officials in order to expose students to the vast array of government career opportunities with an aim to promote public service and increase attorney diversity throughout government.

Prior to CLS, Pauley served as the Director of Training and Special Investigative Counsel for the New York State Inspector General, where she also ran the internship program. Before that, Pauley served as Confidential Assistant for Legal Matters for the New York State Attorney General and was a member of the Public Integrity Bureau. She also clerked for two New York State judges. Pauley began her career as an Assistant District Attorney in the Domestic Violence Bureau of the Kings County District Attorney’s office.

Pauley, a native Washingtonian, graduated from Fordham Law School and was a Stein Scholar in Public Interest Law and Ethics. There, she also received the Archibald R. Murray Public Service Award. She earned a joint Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Columbia University. In 2009, she was named one of Columbia University’s 25 most influential athletic alumnae.

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To make an appointment with Rachel, please do so via Symplicity.

Solmaz Firoz

Area of counseling expertise: 1Ls, LL.M.s and Public Defense

Solmaz Firoz is an experienced attorney who joined Social Justice Initiatives in the fall of 2021. Before joining SJI, Solmaz was a professor of legal writing and practice skills at NYU School of Law and Penn Law. As a practitioner before that, she was most recently an appellate attorney at the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender, where she represented indigent clients challenging their state convictions and sentences. In addition to public defense, Solmaz has worked in a variety of other areas including educational advocacy, human rights, and civil rights. She also volunteers with boards and organizations that focus on mass incarceration, food insecurity, and families in need. 

Solmaz received her BA from Columbia College and her JD from NYU School of Law. After graduating law school, she was a litigation associate at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP in New York City, where she worked on a wide range of pro bono matters, and she was a law clerk for the Honorable Faith S. Hochberg (ret.) in the District of New Jersey.

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To make an appointment with Solmaz, please do so via Symplicity.

Tory HS

Area of counseling expertise: 1Ls, 3Ls, Graduates, LLMs, 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 SJI, 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 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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To make an appointment with Tory, please do so via Symplicity or email.

Kiran Singh

Area of counseling expertise: 1Ls and Government

Kiran Singh is an attorney with experience working both for the government and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining Social Justice Initiatives, Kiran was Assistant General Counsel at Success Academy Charter Schools, a non-profit organization that runs charter schools in New York City. For five years, Kiran served as an Assistant District Attorney at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. She was a trial attorney responsible for prosecuting hundreds of criminal cases involving domestic violence, weapons, narcotics, assault, robbery, and fraud. At the DA’s Office, she was a member of the Domestic Violence Unit, Hate Crimes Unit, Public Assistance Fraud Unit, and Identity Theft Unit. Kiran received a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. She graduated from Brown University, Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude with a degree in political science. While at Brown, she was awarded the CV Starr Institute Award for Leadership in Public Service.

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To make an appointment with Kiran, please do so via Symplicity or email.

Natalie Stephenson

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Rebecca Hinde

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Iliana Ortega

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Diana Pedi

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Eleanor portrait

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