Columbia Law School Awards 2009 Public Service Fellowships


Media contact: Sonia von Gutfeld 212-854-1453 [email protected]
Public Affairs Office 212-854-2650 [email protected]
New York, May 21, 2009 — Columbia Law School has named five recipients of Public Service LRAP Fellowships, which support enhanced loan repayment assistance for recent graduates who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to and promise for leadership in public interest law.
The newest fellows will embark on careers in areas ranging from civil rights litigation to advocacy for immigrant victims of domestic violence to representing Native American interests.

“We had a very difficult time choosing the fellows from among the impressive Columbia students and graduates who plan to devote their professional lives to working for social justice. These fellowships will allow them to make choices free from worry about how to cover their loans,” said Ellen Chapnick, dean of the Social Justice Program, who sat on the selection committee with Law School Professor Philip Genty and Anurima Bhargava ’02, a Lowenstein Fellow who is the director of Education Practice at the NAACP LDF.

Lowenstein Fellows
Lowenstein Fellowships, endowed by the late Professor Louis Lowenstein ’53 and his wife Helen, are awarded to outstanding graduates who will work in public interest law

The Law School mourns the recent death of Professor Lowenstein and remembers with appreciation his commitment to the School. Fellows have expressed profound admiration and gratitude for Professor Lowenstein, whose support has paved their paths to successful public service careers in diverse fields.
The 2009 Lowenstein Fellows are Amos Blackman ’08, Anne Gell ’09, and Katharine Skolnick ’09.

Amos Blackman,a clerk for
Judge Carlos F. Lucero of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, will join Cochran Neufeld & Scheck as a Civil Rights Fellow, where he will represent victims of government misconduct and persons who have been wrongfully convicted.

Blackman, who spent one summer working on racial justice matters at the ACLU of Southern California and one summer at the Employment Law Center in San Francisco, says his “identity as a public interest lawyer truly gelled” as a participant in Columbia’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic. Blackman served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Gender and Law and received the Allan Morrow Sexuality and Gender Law Prize as well as the Public Interest Peer of the Year Prize, given by his classmates.

Anne Gell, named Outstanding Public Interest Student of the Year, will join Sanctuary for Families’ Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services as a Kirkland & Ellis Fellow. Gell will use immigration and family law to reunite domestic violence victims with their children, and hopes to eventually serve her clients through advocacy for systemic change at the local, state and international levels, as well as by providing direct legal services.

While at Columbia, Gell worked with the Law School’s Human Rights Clinic on the Jessica Gonzales v. United States of America case that went before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission. She also did extensive pro bono work for the Legal Aid Society’s Juvenile Justice Project, Human Rights Watch, and The City Bar Justice Center, among other organizations.

Katharine Skolnick intends to spend her career seeking solutions to “the ways in which low-income communities of color come into frequent and undesired contact with the legal system, which often results in a cycle of both continuing poverty and ongoing involvement with the State.”

At Columbia Law School, Skolnick served as editor-in-chief of the Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual, to which she contributed a chapter on “Special Issues for Prisoners with Mental Illness.” She also chaired the Civil Rights Law Society.

Bernstein Fellow
The Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP Fellowship is awarded to a Law School graduate whose career will be substantially devoted to using the law to fight racial, gender or other discrimination.

The 2009 Fellow is Carrie Acus Love ’09. She will spend two years as a Skadden Fellow at
Western Massachusetts Legal Services, providing comprehensive legal services to rural immigrant victims of domestic violence and conducting outreach and trainings at community organizations, hospitals, and law enforcement agencies.

Love’s Human Rights Internship at the Immigration and Refugee Legal Services Division of Catholic Charities and participation in Columbia’s Immigration Defense Externship prepared her well for her fellowship. She performed intake interviews in Spanish, among other activities. Love also served on the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and was a board member of the Society for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

Strine Fellow
The Strine Fellowship is awarded to an outstanding graduate whose career will be substantially devoted to providing legal services to indigent Native Americans or to the use of the law to further Indian rights.

The 2009 Strine Fellow is
Peng Wu ’09. She will begin as an associate at Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Enderson and Perry, a small law firm that represents Native American interests. Wu worked in Sonosky’s Alaska office for part of her second summer.
A Law School seminar on the law of indigenous peoples, primarily U.S. federal Indian law, nurtured Peng’s interest in “the complex and sometimes tense relationship between indigenous peoples and the state that governs over them.”A trip to western China and the Tibetan plateau the summer before law school first sparked this interest. At Columbia Peng was the co-chairperson/treasurer of the Unemployment Action Center.

Columbia Law School’s Public Service Fellowships cover all loans up to the cost of law school tuition for Fellows whose annual income does not exceed $100,000 and follow an accelerated forgiveness schedule.

Columbia Law School’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) is available to all graduates who enter qualifying public interest employment. In 2008, the Law School significantly strengthened its LRAP, one of many initiatives that allow graduates to pursue their passion for public-spirited work.

Columbia Law School, founded in 1858, stands at the forefront of legal education and of the law in a global society. Columbia Law School joins traditional strengths in international and comparative law, constitutional law, administrative law, business law and human rights law with pioneering work in the areas of intellectual property, digital technology, sexuality and gender, criminal and environmental law.