When Houston native Natasha Merle ’08 learned last spring that she was one of three NYU Law graduates to receive an Equal Justice Works (EJW) Fellowship--a two-year grant to do public interest work anywhere in the nation--she knew exactly where she wanted to go: home to Texas, where more than half the inmate executions in the United States took place last year. “If I was going to do capital punishment work, I was going to do it in Texas,” says Merle, who will join Gulf Region Advocacy Center (GRACE) in Houston to work with former death row inmates who are granted new sentencing hearings due to constitutional violations. “This fellowship is the perfect way to do it.”
Merle and classmates Sandy Mayson ‘09 and Edget Betru ‘09 were among 48 legal fellows selected by EJW this year to design jobs working on behalf of underserved communities and causes. Mayson will join the Orleans Public Defenders (OPD), which provides legal representation to indigent defendants accused of committing crimes in Orleans Parish, and work to create community support structures for immigrant defendants and their families and train attorneys in immigration law. Betru will be working with the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Inc., helping organize pro bono legal services for children in removal proceedings.
Founded in 1986 by law students from 14 law schools, EJW has grown into the largest post-graduate legal fellowship program in the United States, and is now affiliated with 198 law schools. The 2009 class will begin their two-year terms in September, joining 54 fellows already in the field.
Posted on June 11, 2009