2019 Postgraduate Fellowships

Alma D. Gonzalez ’19 awarded Staff Attorney Fellowship at the Center for Appellate Litigation (CAL).

Alma D. Gonzalez ’19
Undergraduate Degree: B.A. in international relations from New York University

Experience: Center for Appellate Litigation, intern; Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, intern; The Legal Aid Society, Immigration Law Unit, extern; Society for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Family Detention Center Caravan leader; Columbia Journal of Race and Law, editor in chief; Challenging the Consequences of Mass Incarceration Clinic, advanced student

Motivation: “My passion for public defense stems from my undergraduate work experience. At the Urban Justice Center, I met many individuals whose criminal convictions obstructed their access to food and housing benefits. This prompted me to research the effects of the criminal justice system on our clients’ rights, which revealed how a criminal record can stifle one’s access to employment and education and disrupt one’s family life. That systemic indifference, overwhelmingly targeted at communities of color, was a turning point that inspired me to advocate for clients as a public defender and to seek an office like CAL that focuses on clients’ varied needs even after a conviction.”

Goals: “During my time at the Center for Appellate Litigation, I hope to become a stronger oral advocate for low-income communities and communities of color. I seek to learn new approaches to social justice through the law and to better understand the advantages and limitations of appellate practice in fostering change. This three-year fellowship will be an integral foundation for my legal career in criminal and immigration defense because of the great support and training of those at CAL and the fellowship’s focus on grappling with complex legal questions in those areas of law.”

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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