Columbia Law School Professor Barbara A. Schatz was recently honored with a new fellowship fund in her name, created by PILnet: The Global Network for Public Interest Law. Schatz, a clinical professor of law who teaches the Law School’s Community Enterprise Clinic, is the organization’s founding board chair, and continues to serve as a member of its board of directors.
“I’m honored to have my name attached to PILnet’s fellowship program,” she said this week. “It's a program that has done so much to train and support public interest lawyers throughout the world.”
Established in 1997 as the Public Interest Law Initiative in Transitional Societies at Columbia University—based on a Law School graduate’s project to support the development of public interest law in countries of the former Soviet Union—PILnet is a nonprofit organization that works to connect advocates with the tools they need to advance human rights and public interest law around the world. The new Barbara Schatz Fellowship Fund provides financial support for young lawyers to work at PILnet’s offices for a year, alongside a global network of private and public interest lawyers in a wide variety of areas, from electoral reform in southern Africa to business and human rights.
“In response to the challenges posed by globalization, PILnet is seeking to make the graduates of its fellowship program even more effective by helping them to acquire some of the transactional skills that lawyers use to protect the interests of private clients,” Schatz said. “The goal is to ensure that when communities face challenges like land grabs or destructive development, their lawyers will have the tools to represent them effectively. With five immensely talented young lawyers this year, the new program is off to a strong start.”
Since graduating from Harvard Law School with her J.D. in 1973, Schatz has spent her legal career focused on public interest law. From 1977 to 1984, she served as executive director of the Council of New York Law Associates (now the Lawyers Alliance for New York), where she administered a pro bono program for 1,800 lawyers, created the organization’s Community Development Legal Assistance Center, and co-founded Court Appointed Special Advocates, an advocacy program for children in foster care. She is also a co-founder of Human Rights First—an independent advocacy and action organization—and is a member of its emeritus board.
Schatz joined the Law School faculty in 1985, and she served as director of clinical education from 1996 to 2001. In addition to the Community Enterprise Clinic, she teaches a seminar on nonprofit institutions and has taught the Community Development Law Externship, the Mediation Clinic, the Community Development Clinic, and the Clinical Seminar in Law and the Arts.
As an expert in clinical law, Schatz has taught and consulted with law faculties in China, Russia, Armenia, Georgia, Poland, Hungary, and several other countries in central and eastern Europe in connection with their efforts to establish clinical legal education programs. During her career, she has also represented nonprofits—particularly developers of low-income and special needs housing—in corporate, tax, and real estate matters.
“[Schatz] has been instrumental in nurturing the program and shaping the minds of young advocates,” reads PILnet’s website release about the fellowship fund. “Her dedication and commitment to PILnet through the years is an inspiration to all of us.”
Posted on July 12, 2017