$568,500 in PILA Grants Awarded to 137 Students Working in Public Interest This Summer

Students Collectively Volunteered More Than 7,900 Hours to Qualify
Erik Zornes, Shanthi Rajagopalan, Rachel Gallagher, Cassondra "CJ" Murphy and Jah Akande

Erik Zornes, Shanthi Rajagopalan, Rachel Gallagher, Cassondra "CJ" Murphy and Jah Akande share details of their public interest summer jobs.

May 1, 2017

The University of Virginia School of Law's grant program supporting students who will work in the public interest over the summer will offer 137 students $568,500 in funding, a new high on both counts.

The grants, which will benefit 111 first-year students and 26 second-year students, are awarded through a partnership between the Law School's Mortimer Caplin Public Service Center and the Public Interest Law Association student organization.

Student recipients are required to apply and qualify for the funding by volunteering their time for pro bono work – 40 hours for first-year students and 80 hours for second-year students, or a combination of pro bono and public service work. Grantees must also have secured a public service position and agree to donate hours back to PILA, which founded the grant program.

PILA holds a series of fundraising events each year, including an auction and book sale, to help raise money for grants.

"PILA is so happy to be able to continue to provide guaranteed funding that want to work in the public interest," PILA President Megan Keenan '18 said. "We have people who are going all over the country in all kinds of public interest law, and we're happy to support people who want to work in prosecution, defense or nonprofit work — really, across the spectrum. Through this program, we're able to help students achieve those goals who might not otherwise be able to coordinate the funding."

This year, students volunteered 7,975 hours, an average of 58 per student grantee.

"The record-breaking number of PILA grants this year is a testament to the drive of our students to serve the public interest and to the generosity of our alumni who make these grants possible," said Annie Kim, assistant dean for public service and director of the Mortimer Caplin Public Service Center.  "UVA Law stands behind its commitment to public service on a scale that I never dreamed was possible 15 years ago, when I started my first public service job."

Funding graphic

Over the summer students will work in 49 U.S. cities, and one student will work internationally, in Yangon, Myanmar. Here's a look at what five of the fellows have planned. (Full List)

Jah AdandeJah Akande '19

Hometown: Richmond, Virginia

College/education: University of Richmond

Summer job: The Office of the Federal Public Defender Eastern District of Virginia (Richmond office)

What he'll be doing: I will be assisting public defenders in the effective representation of their clients, criminally accused individuals who are financially unable to obtain adequate representation. This will include doing legal research and writing, fact investigation, sentencing data collection and trial preparation.

Goals: My goal is to continue being an advocate for the marginalized and forgotten about members of our society. I am ambitious about utilizing my legal skills and resources to make this world a better place, one where everyone has a fair chance to thrive. It starts with addressing the unfairness within our legal system and trying to be positive force within it.

Rachel GallagherRachel Gallagher '19

Hometown: Castroville, Texas

College/education: Norwich University, B.A. in international studies

Summer job: Working with the Japanese nongovernmental organization, Human Rights Now, in their Yangon, Myanmar, office

What she'll be doing: The Yangon office is very small — for most of the summer it will likely be just myself and a single supervising attorney. I will be able to participate in all of the operations in Myanmar, including organizing human rights education seminars for local lawyers and military personnel, researching ongoing human rights violations in Myanmar and assisting with investigations into human rights abuses.

Goals: I am committed to using my law degree for the public good, and am hoping to get a more concrete direction for what I want from my law career after this summer. I've been interested in international law and international human rights since I spent four months working at a Chinese disaster relief organization. Long-term, I would like to become a special agent at the FBI in order to start a career that allows me to engage in challenging, hands-on work that will allow me to actively serve the public.

Cassondra "CJ" MurphyCassondra "CJ" Murphy '18

Hometown: Auburn, New York

College/education: American University, B.A. in communications, law, economics and government

Summer job: Lambda Legal, New York, New York

What will you be doing at that job: At Lambda Legal, I'll get to work on LGBTQ rights impact litigation. In that role, I'll be doing legal research, legal writing and other projects that help prepare and litigate cases that advance LGBTQ rights. I'll also get to speak with and provide resources to those facing discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status by taking field calls from Lambda Legal's Help Desk.

Goals: My desire to achieve social justice through the advancement of civil rights fueled my decision to go to law school. At Lambda Legal, I hope to continue working toward that vision of social justice and to make a positive impact on the rights of the LGBTQ community.

Shanthi Rajagopalan '18

Hometown: San Jose, California

College/education: Hawaii Pacific University, B.A. in justice administration, minor in psychology

Summer job: Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office, California, summer law clerk 

What she'll be doing: I will be assisting deputy district attorneys with the prosecution of a range of cases. I have obtained my California state bar certification for the summer, which allows law students to obtain practical experience in the courtroom. Accordingly, I will be given the opportunity to argue in court and potentially conduct a jury trial under the supervision of an attorney. I will also be drafting motions and other legal documents related to cases.

Goals: I would like to be an advocate for justice as a criminal prosecutor and work toward making communities safer. I would additionally like to assist in implementing larger policy changes that improve and reform our criminal justice system. I believe that my experience this summer will provide me the skills necessary to be an effective advocate and work towards my goals.

Erik ZornesErik Zornes '19

Hometown: Fairbanks, Alaska

College/education: B.A., California State University, Northridge; M.A., Korea University

Summer Job: Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Office of International Affairs

What he'll be dong: The Office of International Affairs works with foreign governments to carry out international extraditions, evidence-gathering and other important criminal justice functions. As a member of the Middle East, Asia and Africa team, I will conduct legal research and analysis, provide logistical support and contribute my Korean language skills to support the mission of the Office. 

What are your goals? My goal is to pursue a career in public service working to combat international human trafficking. I hope to gain insight into how the Office of International Affairs combines diplomacy and legal advocacy to bolster international institutions and promote law enforcement efforts overseas.

PILA Grant Employers, Summer 2017

Federal Government

Federal Aviation Administration Washington, D.C.
Federal Communications Commission, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Washington, D.C.
Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, Office of Administrative Law Judges Washington, D.C.
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Alexandria, Va.
U.S. Army JAG Corps Fort Bragg, N.C.
U.S. Army JAG Corps Fort Campbell, Ky.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia (5) Washington, D.C.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maine Portland, Maine
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland Greenbelt, Md.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts (2) Boston, Mass.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Hampshire Concord, N.H.
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina Columbia, S.C.
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California Fresno, Calif.
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York (2) New York
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York, Criminal Division (2) Brooklyn, N.Y.
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia Alexandria, Va.
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of California San Francisco
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio Cleveland
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania Pittsburgh
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia (2) Charlottesville, Va.
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington (2) Seattle
U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission New York
U.S. Department of Commerce Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Military Commissions, Office of the Chief Prosecutor Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division (2) Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Appellate Staff Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch, Fraud Section Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Federal Torts Claim Act Section, Torts Branch Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, National Courts Section Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Employment Litigation Section Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Voting Section Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Appellate Section Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Office of International Affairs (3) Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Office of Policy and Legislation Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review Houston
U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Programs Branch Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Tort Claims Act Section Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, National Security Division, Office of Law and Policy Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Access to Justice Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Professional Responsibility Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Organized Crime and Gang Section Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Justice, Vaccine Litigation Unit Washington, D.C.
U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of the Chief Counsel Arlington, Va.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2 New York
U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (2) Washington, D.C.

International

Human Rights Now Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)

Nonprofit Organizations

Accountability Counsel San Francisco
ACLU of San Diego San Diego
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Washington, D.C.
CAIR Coalition Washington, D.C.
Campaign Legal Center Washington, D.C.
Central Virginia Legal Aid Society Charlottesville, Va.
Community Legal Services of Philadelphia (2) Philadelphia
Conservation Law Foundation Boston
Disability Rights New Jersey Trenton, N.J.
East Bay Community Law Center Berkeley, Calif.
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant Berkeley, Calif.
Environment Texas Austin, Texas
Environmental Defense Fund Boulder, Colo.
Equal Justice Center Austin, Texas
Equal Justice Under Law Washington, D.C.
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority New York
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education Philadelphia
Homeless Persons Representation Project Baltimore
Justice for our Neighbors Nashville, Tenn.
Lambda Legal New York
Landesa Seattle
Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (2) Washington, D.C.
Legal Aid Justice Center (5) Charlottesville, Va.
Legal Aid Justice Center, JustChildren Program (2) Charlottesville, Va.
Legal Aid New York New York
Legal Aid Society of New York, Juvenile Rights Section New York
Legal Services Center, Harvard Law School Boston
Lennox Hill Neighborhood House New York
Louisiana Capital Assistance Center New Orleans
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Office of General Counsel Cambridge, Mass.
Poligon Education Fund Washington, D.C.
Rutherford Institute Charlottesville, Va.
Southern Environmental Law Center Birmingham, Ala.

Public Defenders

10th Judicial District of Minnesota Anoka, Minn.
18th Circuit Public Defender's Office Sanford, Fla.
Alexandria Public Defender's Office Alexandria, Va.
Brighton Public Defender's Office Brighton, Colo.
Charlottesville-Albemarle Public Defender's Office (3) Charlottesville, Va.
Colorado State Public Defender's Office Glenwood Springs, Colo.
Defender Association of Philadelphia Philadelphia
Des Moines Public Defender's Office Des Moines, Iowa
Federal Public Defender, District of Arizona Tucson, Ariz.
Federal Public Defender, Eastern District of Virginia Alexandria, Va.
Federal Public Defender, Eastern District of Virginia Richmond, Va.
Federal Public Defender, Northern District of Texas Dallas
Orleans Public Defenders New Orleans

State and Local Government (Including Prosecution)

Albemarle County Attorney's Office Charlottesville, Va.
Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office Charlottesville, Va.
Arizona Attorney General's Office Phoenix
Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney's Office Charlottesville, Va.
Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office Martinez, Calif.
Council of the District of Columbia, Office of General Counsel Washington, D.C.
Georgia Office of the Attorney General Atlanta
Los Angeles County Counsel's Office Los Angeles
Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office Rockville, Md.
New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Newark, N.J.
New York Office of the Attorney General (2) New York
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation New York
North Carolina Attorney General's Office (2) Raleigh, N.C.
Orange County Counsel Santa Ana, Calif.
Pennsylvania Governor's Office of General Counsel Pittsburgh
Petersburg City Attorney's Office Petersburg, Va.
Queens District Attorney's Office Queens, N.Y.
Riverside County District Attorney's Office Riverside, Calif.
Virginia Office of the Attorney General Richmond, Va.

 

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