On May 5, Equal Justice Works (EJW) announced that Kristin Connor '08 and recent graduates Mindy Friedman '10 and Alisa Wellek '10 have been awarded two-year fellowships providing legal services to underrepresented people and causes in the United States. EJW is the largest post-graduate legal fellowship program in the U.S., and is affiliated with 198 law schools.

Connor, a 2007-2008 Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow at NYU Law, will join Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services in El Paso, Texas, a legal aid clinic that serves low-income immigrants and refugees in the south western U.S. “I was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and have always been fascinated by the impact of the border on people’s lives, especially after spending time abroad living as a foreigner myself,” Connor told EJW. “Working with immigrant youth perfectly combines my interest in immigration with my past work as a youth counselor.” Her project aims to provide community outreach and legal advocacy to abandoned, abused, and neglected immigrant youth in west Texas and southern New Mexico, and help those who are eligible to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.

At New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), Friedman will focus on disability rights, health care, civil rights, and civil liberties. NYLPI is a non-profit law firm that works with other law firm and organizations to provide legal services, advocacy and organizing. Friedman’s project will partner with community-based organizations, providers and disability rights groups throughout New York City to “illuminate and remove obstacles to health care for people with disabilities.”

Wellek, who was a 2009-2010 Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Fellow, will also stay in New York, where she will join the Immigrant Defense Project, an initiative that defends the legal, constitutional, and human rights of immigrants facing criminal or deportation charges. Her project will challenge the “jail-detention-deportation pipeline” faced by many non-U.S. citizens. “Through my work in the NYU Immigrant Rights Clinic and at the Bronx Defenders, I have been inspired by activists fighting to pierce the ‘criminal alien’ label and achieve immigration justice,” said Wellek in her EJW profile. “I will document abuse, provide pro se assistance; help contest legal interpretations mandating detention, and coordinate litigation challenging unconstitutional practices.”

Posted May 19, 2010