2019 Postgraduate Fellowships
Undergraduate Degrees: B.A. in political science and philosophy from Rice University
Experience: Southern Poverty Law Center, intern; Low-Wage Workers Project at The Legal Aid Society, extern; Texas Civil Rights Project, law clerk; Columbia Journal of Law & Social Problems; Columbia Law School Challenging the Consequences of Mass Incarceration Clinic
Motivation: “My public interest work has exposed me to the insidious ways in which disparate treatment and inequities are permitted and perpetuated under the law. For example, I worked with a black teenager sentenced to 25 years in an adult prison for a nonviolent burglary. The victims insisted that my client was an ‘adult’ who ‘knew what he was doing,’ despite the fact that he was barely 12 years old when the crime was committed. I had little doubt that the documented tendency to view black boys as older and less innocent than their white peers contributed to the prosecutor’s decision to seek a harsh adult penalty. From my vantage point, public interest lawyers are needed to bear witness, to fight against the injustices facing our clients, and to insist that our society sees and remains aware of the legacies of slavery, segregation, and a legal system founded on racist principles.”
Goals: “My project protects the employment rights of survivors of sex trafficking and other low-income New Yorkers whose conviction records have been sealed. The New York State Human Rights Law and NYC Human Rights Law prohibit employers from inquiring or discriminating on the basis of sealed conviction records. Unfortunately, employers regularly violate these antidiscrimination laws and deny jobs to these people. My project has three prongs: I will provide direct representation for clients who have sealed records and will negotiate with and litigate against employers who fail to comply with antidiscrimination laws; I will provide community education for these populations; I will advocate with administrative agencies to ensure their compliance with antidiscrimination and sealing laws.”
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The office of Social Justice Initiatives (SJI) guides Columbia Law School students who want to pursue public interest work throughout their academic careers and after graduation. SJI also assists in the process of applying to prestigious postgraduate fellowships. Read about the other 2019 public interest postgraduate fellows.
Published on March 18, 2019