Moritz shares record number of EJW Fellowships
The Moritz College of Law is well known for its outreach in nonprofit and public interest areas of the law. Since 2002, 11 Moritz graduates have received fellowships with Equal Justice Works, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that works to build support in the legal profession for public interest lawyers and attorneys. There are currently six Moritz alumni serving two-year appointments with EJW. Along with UC Berkeley, Moritz shares the record for most EJW post-graduate fellowships.
The College is proud to announce that Moritz 3Ls Katherine Rogers and Laura Sminchak have received fellowships with EJW for 2008-10, and Kathleen Clyde will be on the EJW National Advisory Council Board of Directors.
“We have a great public interest community here,” said Cybele Smith, director of public service and public interest programs. “Equal Justice Works seems to recognize that Moritz has public interest minded students committed to public service positions after graduation.”
Fellowships with Equal Justice Works are two-year commitments. Each fellow has a different project to help disenfranchised groups or individuals or advocate for issues that are traditionally under represented in the legal system. Fellows also must find a host organization to help with funding.
“We are very lucky in Ohio to have the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation (OLAF),” Smith said. “OLAF has been extremely supportive of EJW Fellows.”
Katherine Rogers is a Powell native and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with degrees in English and French. She began public interest work while attending Moritz. She has been involved with the Public Interest Law Foundation, the Pro Bono Research Group, Advocates for Children, and the Justice for Children Practicum. She works for the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, and her EJW project is to advocate for the rights of teenage mothers by providing direct legal representation, training, and education to maximize their potential for independent living as adults.
“My project is important because of the high teen pregnancy rate in Ohio, where 18,500 teens give birth each year,” Rogers said. “Teenage mothers are still children themselves, and are not always aware that they have legal rights or access to the legal community. The LASC doesn’t see these teenage mothers until several years have passed, when some are already living in poverty. My project will provide aid to the low-income mothers, and early intervention for their children to help end the devastating cycle of poverty they would otherwise face.”
Laura Sminchak is originally from New Lebanon, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio State with a degree in English. She has worked for the Equal Justice Foundation (not related to EJW) and for the Student Housing Legal Clinic. At Moritz, she has been involved in Advocates for Children, the Pro Bono Research Group, the Public Interest Law Foundation, and the Justice For Children Practicum. She learned about the EJW program from several former fellows during her summer jobs. Her project is to improve access to medical and legal services for low-income people in Appalachian Ohio.
“Appalachian Ohio is a historically poor area,” she said. “With such limited resources, it is important for doctors and lawyers to work together to help their low-income patients and clients.”
Kathleen Clyde is a native of Garrettsville, Ohio, and graduated from Wesleyan University in Middleton, Conn., with a degree in English. Before law school, she worked for two years at the Community Shelter Board coordinating shelter services for homeless people in Columbus and Franklin County. During law school, she was the president of the Public Interest Law Foundation and worked for the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit that does advocacy and impact litigation work on democracy issues in New York City. She also served on the EJW National Advisory Committee, a group of students and law school professionals who work to promote EJW. Kathleen is the only student representative voted to serve on the EJW Board of Directors this year.
“I enjoyed all of the experiences I have had working for nonprofits,” Clyde said. “They definitely helped guide my decision to pursue a career in public service.”