Meet the 2020 J.D. Postgraduate Public Interest Fellows

Working at organizations that specialize in issues such as voting rights, juvenile justice, and the death penalty, recent graduates will use their fellowships to launch careers in human rights, public service, and social justice.

Fluted columns in from of Low Library

Every year, Columbia Law School alumni receive prestigious fellowships that support positions in public interest and public service organizations. The newest recipients join a legion of alumni who have gone on to leadership roles in government, social justice, and human rights. 

The Office of Social Justice Initiatives (SJI) offers comprehensive guidance and support to students who seek positions serving the public good, both in the United States and abroad. SJI also administers several postgraduate fellowships to LL.M. alumni.

“Our postgraduate fellowship recipients are truly impressive,” says Dean for Social Justice Initiatives and Public Service Lawyering Erica Smock ’95. “They have already accomplished so much, and this year, at a time when communities around the world are facing unprecedented crises, our graduates have the knowledge and skills to make a real, positive impact in social justice fields.”

This spring, graduates from the Classes of 2017 through 2020 obtained postgraduate fellowships at organizations including the Brennan Center for Justice, Human Rights Watch, Children’s Law Center of California, and the American Civil Liberties Union Racial Justice Program. Below, meet just some of the fellows and learn what drew them to their organizations and what they hope to achieve.

Meet some of the fellows below.

Columbia Law School graduate Michael J. Altman Lupu ’20 in glasses and T-shirt

Michael Altman-Lupu ’20

Global Public Service Fellowship, Article 19

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Headshot of Isela Bañuelos ’20

Isela Bañuelos ’20

Public Interest and Government Fellowship, Children’s Law Center of California

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Edward Brandt ’20 smiling

Edward Brandt ’20

Public Interest and Government Fellowship, ACLU of Florida

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Headshot of Tiffani Burgess '20

Tiffani Burgess ’20

ACLU Marvin M. Karpatkin Fellowship, American Civil Liberties Union Racial Justice Program 

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Portrait of Yasmin Dagne ’18

Yasmin Dagne ’18

Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Civil Rights Fellowship, Neufeld Scheck & Brustin, LLP

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Columbia Law School graduate Emma DiNapoli ’20 in a pale gray sweater with clouds behind her

Emma DiNapoli ’20

David W. Leebron Human Rights Fellowship, REDRESS and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies

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Elizabeth Hayden ’20 wears a Columbia University sweatshirt with her graduation cap.

Beth Hayden ’20

Public Interest and Government Fellowship, Reprieve U.S.

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Headshot of Sarah Hong Lin ʼ20

Sarah Hong Lin ʼ20

Center for Appellate Litigation Staff Attorney Fellowship

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Headshot of Libby McAvoy ’20

Libby McAvoy ’20

Public Interest and Government Fellowship, Mnemonic and Witness

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William Palmer Wilder ’20 at a podium

William Palmer Wilder ’20

Herbert and Nell Singer Social Justice Fellowship, Brennan Center for Justice

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Headshot of Clarisa Reyes-Becerra ’19

Clarisa Reyes-Becerra ’19

Equal Justice Works Fellowship, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation

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Headshot of Jordana Signer ’20

Jordana Signer ’20

Leonard H. Sandler Fellowship, Human Rights Watch

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Abigail Unger ’20 smiling

Abigail Unger ’20

Public Interest and Government Fellowship, Brooklyn Defender Services’ Family Defense Practice

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Headshot of Ashwini Velchamy ’20

Ashwini Velchamy ’20

Public Interest and Government Fellowship, Capital Appeals Project

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