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Ten Northwestern Law Students Receive Public Interest Fellowships

Fellowship program provides support to law graduates pursuing public interest law

CHICAGO --- The Northwestern University School of Law has awarded public interest fellowships to 10 members of the graduating class of 2014.

Every year a significant percentage of Northwestern Law students aspire to practice public interest law, a sector in which there is a troubling mismatch between the demand for services and the supply of entry-level jobs.

To address this issue, the Law School last fall announced a $1 million gift from the Jay Pritzker Foundation to establish the Jay A. Pritzker Fellowship Program -- a challenge to inspire additional gifts in support of public interest law at Northwestern. The program was to fully match gifts of $25,000 from donors, creating annual stipends of $50,000 to each recipient for a maximum of nine students per year who will pursue public interest law careers.

The planned fellowships have been matched and now are fully funded for this year’s group of fellows, with one funded through the Law School’s Bluhm Legal Clinic. The fellows will start their new jobs in the fall.

Additionally, the School of Law is partnering with Gideon’s Promise, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that trains, mentors and supports young public defenders. Three of the 2014 fellowship recipients have been selected to become Gideon’s Promise Fellows and will work as public defenders in Tennessee, representing clients in need of legal assistance. Northwestern is the only law school sponsoring three fellows this year.

2014 Pritzker Fellows:

Jennifer Beamish
Lawyers Alliance for New York, New York

Michael Bruzik
City of Chicago Law Department, Torts Division

Dennie Byam
Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, Chicago 

Lindsay Dubin
Environmental Law and Policy Center, Chicago 

Mary Henin
Defender Association of Philadelphia

Andrew McNulty
American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, Kansas City

Abby Parr
Bronx Defenders, New York 

2014 Gideon’s Promise Fellows:

Benjamin Israel
Shelby County Public Defenders Office, Memphis, Tennessee

Brett Werenski
Shelby County Public Defenders Office, Memphis, Tennessee

Rebba Omer
Knox County Public Defenders Community Law Office, Knoxville, Tennessee

“The Bluhm Legal Clinic and other public interest opportunities at the Law School instill a great desire to do public interest law in our students,” said Cindy Wilson, clinical professor of law and director of the Center for Externships.

“In the face of the contracting job market in this sector, particularly at the entry level, we wanted to do something to help our graduates launch their careers. It is hard to believe that in two years we have gone from an idea to 10 fully funded fellowships. I’m so proud of the commitment the Law School and our alumni have made to expanding access to justice,” she said.

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