Summer 2018 Fellows


Seth BaranyU.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio

The PILF fellowship allowed me to spend the summer as a law clerk at the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Ohio. I worked on a variety of civil cases, with an emphasis on labor and employment law. There were ample opportunities to get field experience as well. I had the opportunity to attend several trials and procedural hearings, as well as travel out of the office to interview witnesses and help gather information. I worked closely with one attorney in the office and he assigned most of my work from a small number of cases. Over the course of the summer, I was able to see the cases I was working on develop in real time. Some of my most interesting cases were employment discrimination claims. I enjoyed working with agency staff to develop the facts and determine what caused an employee to be terminated.

All in all, the entire experience was a fantastic opportunity to see what it would be like to work as an attorney in the federal government. Without the PILF fellowship, none of it would have been possible.

 

Morgan Brant (Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Fellow)Ohio State Legal Services Foundation

This summer my experience surpassed all expectations.  Working for the Ohio State Legal Services Foundation in the Legal Aid sector, I gained an incredible amount of insight on poverty law in Ohio.  I was placed with the Public Benefits Team.  On such a team, I learned that the attorneys handle a variety of issues regarding public benefit access.  For example, I researched contract law for a case against a nursing home, as well as filed hundreds of Social Security documents to find records that comply with state regulations.

I got to experience a variety of attorneys in action as well.  This includes sitting in on hearings, visiting bankruptcy court, observing and helping with clinics, and filling out social security documents with clients.  I am very grateful for the client contact that I experienced this summer as well.  One of my main duties was to call clients to gather the facts of their cases.  I quickly learned how to ask better, more efficient, and relevant questions throughout the summer.  Each week, I would report the new cases to the Public Benefits Team at a meeting. I particularly enjoyed these meetings because I would observe the attorneys conversing about the facts and discuss the clients’ options.

Overall, I appreciated the dedication that the attorneys displayed toward their clients throughout the entire summer.  They never turned down an eligible person no matter how heavy their workload.  There is an exhausting amount of cases in which people need real help and are scared of what their lives could come to without any help.  Legal Aid is an essential non-profit and I cannot imagine what the Columbus area alone would be like without it.  I am forever grateful for the opportunity to work and learn at Legal Aid this summer and intend to continue being involved with them throughout my legal career.

 

Meredith Bray Legal Aid Society of Columbus, Public Benefits Team

I spent my summer as a law clerk on the Public Benefits Team at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus. I spent most of my time interviewing clients regarding their legal issues with Medicaid, Medicare, Supplemental Social Security, Unemployment Compensation, Food Stamps, and Cash Assistance programs among other benefits.

When I wasn’t talking with clients, I was usually doing research into certain benefits rules the Public Benefits team needed help with. I also reviewed Social Security documents for some of our clients who had an upcoming benefit hearing. The projects I was assigned, including rule research and reviewing documents, helped me hone my research and analysis skills.

Working at LASC allowed me to have real, hands on experience with clients who often need legal assistance the most. I enjoyed my work this summer and it allowed me to grow both personally and professionally.

The PILF fellowship allowed me to have a valuable opportunity to explore public service. I know that there is a viable career path to be found in public service and I am excited to discover more going forward.

 

Nathan CrowellLegal Aid Society of Columbus, Consumer Protection Team

Thanks to the PILF grant that I received this last summer I was able to intern at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus. This was an unpaid internship and as such without the financial security that the grant afforded me, I would not have been able to even consider taking on such an internship as I would have needed to be paid to keep up on my bills. I am thankful for being part of the fellowship as my work with LASC this last summer helped reaffirm why I came to law school in the first place.

Often during the mandatory classes of 1L year, one can forget why they decided they wanted to become a lawyer; once lost in the countless memorization techniques and outlines this summer helped remind me that I got into law to help people and better the community. Not only did my summer work with LASC reaffirm my future goals, it also helped expand what I would consider going into the future as during my time with LASC I was assigned to the Consumer Law team. Focusing on consumer law this summer I helped those who had fallen victim to predatory lenders, were on the verge of bankruptcy, been the victim of scams, etc.

I had never considered consumer law as a way to help individuals through the law, but through my work this summer I saw how even just helping someone file a bankruptcy could greatly improve their life. This summer would have been impossible if it had not been for PILF and for that I am thankful.

 

Kathleen Evans – Ohio Public Defender

This summer I have had the pleasure of interning at the Ohio Public Defender’s Office in the Appeals and Post Conviction section. I conduct legal research and write both briefs and motions covering a variety of issues, including unlawful charge of court costs, invalid imposition of post-release supervision, and aggressive policing of communities of color. I also attend oral arguments, trials, and parole board hearings, learning best practices for advocating on behalf of indigent clients in a prejudicial system.

I am also working with the Racial Justice Initiative (RJI) at the OPD, which has the goal of partnering with the community to build relationships and work toward systemic change. For RJI, I collect data and generate reports pertaining to racially discriminatory policing practices. In addition, I write for the OPD blog, “the Criminalization of Poverty”, which explores the various ways the criminal justice system disproportionately affects low-income communities, perpetuating structural racism and classism. This work has been rewarding because we are supporting community organizers who are already working toward change and offering support in the legal field, which is extremely exclusionary.

 

Anna Grushetsky (Andrea Shemberg Fellow) – Disability Rights Ohio

This summer, a PILF fellowship allowed me to work with Disability Rights Ohio, a law and policy group that advocates for those with disabilities and their families in many legal and social contexts. I was able to complete some very rewarding work this summer in areas of criminal law, labor and employment law, voting law, and social security benefits and Medicaid. I learned so much this summer.

I was mentored by the fantastically talented and passionate attorneys and advocates of this great organization and I really felt that I contributed to the team effort. Some of my favorite experiences were had while participating in the monthly staff meetings that DRO holds. At those meetings, I got to see how this community supports each other and cheers on accomplishments large and small. The sessions always concluded with celebrations of victories for clients and appreciation to those advocates who secured victories. The work environment was extremely positive, and I always left the meetings with renewed resolve in my own work.
This “real life” experience has been invaluable to me.

Not only have I sharpened legal writing skills, (doubtlessly a goal for all 1L summer experiences) I have also seen first-hand how disability rights are implicated in all areas of law and culture. It is extremely important to maintain an openness and awareness to the myriad of human experiences as an attorney, regardless of the area of practice that one specializes in.
Institutionalization and the vulnerability that inheres in that experience was an important theme of the work I participated in and the work of DRO overall. I was able to shadow a monitoring visit that DRO conducts regularly to a state mental hospital and interview DRO clients in the community.

This work is extremely important to ensure that some of the most vulnerable populations in institutions are heard and advocated for. This was the most rewarding work I did all summer. I am extremely grateful for PILF as an organization and to all the donors that make this wonderful program possible.

 

Elizabeth Hartman – Ohio Public Defender

Working at the Death Penalty department of the Office of the Ohio Public Defender was the best way I could have spent my summer. I’ve always wanted to work in indigent defense, particularly as it relates to the death penalty, so I was thrilled to find out that a PILF fellowship made it possible for me to take on this role instead of a paid summer internship. I was able to meet with death row inmates, attend oral arguments, and participate in moots, all of which were hugely rewarding educational experiences, but the most valuable to me was seeing how a state-level public defender’s office operates. All of OPD works as a team, and the lawyers there are very good at drawing on others’ abilities and connections in order to best serve an overwhelming number of clients across many departments. It is amazing and motivating to see how much they can do with such limited resources. The experience reminded me that the reason I came to law school was to be a public defender, and I was glad every day that this was the type of work I’d be doing in the future.

I’m so grateful that PILF and the donors made this experience, as well as many of my classmates’ experiences, possible. It’s great to see that someone values our collective dedicating to public interest work. I know we are all a little uncertain about what assistance will be available for us in the future, so I especially appreciate that someone cares now.

 

Cathy Hatten – Legal Aid Society of Columbus, Tax Team

Through a generous PILF Fellowship I was able to work at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus. I had the experience of working with their tax team helping clients in Columbus and with the Southeastern Ohio Legal Services’ tax team helping clients in Appalachia this summer.

This experience allowed me to see the variety of tax issues that face indigent people throughout Ohio and to get a better understanding of what needs exist within different communities. It was because of my PILF Fellowship that I was able to have such a rich experience working at Legal Aid. Because of my part time fellowship, I was able to work four days a week, getting rich experience with client interactions, writing memos, and doing research into tax law. Without this support, I would have had to work a less rewarding job in order to pay the bills.

Entering into this summer, I was unsure how I would feel about working on the tax team; it had never seemed the least bit interesting. However, working with the amazing attorneys at Legal Aid brought out the importance of tax law. The otherwise boring work of reading the Internal Revenue Manual became exciting when doing research for our clients. The meaning of “actual knowledge” became interesting when the research helped prove that a domestic violence survivor should be granted innocent spouse relief from her tax debt. Whether it was examining the new tax law to see the affected on our immigrant clients or investigating the Internal Revenue Manual to help provide the best case for a client’s offer-in-compromise, these experiences showed me the real purpose of what I learned in my first year at Moritz.

 

Andrea Hearon (Student Bar Association Fellow)U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio

My fellowship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio provided enriching, hands on experience. I watched a multitude of different court proceedings, giving me an understanding of how to conduct myself as a lawyer in the courtroom. Watching so many court proceedings made me much less nervous about speaking in court when I am practicing. It also illustrated the types of questions lawyers ask when a witness is on the stand and different strategies to best connect with the jury. This type of courtroom experience is extremely meaningful to me because I plan to litigate.

I also drafted several motions and responses which were filed with the court. The U.S. Attorneys allowed me to research a legal issue and then respond with my own arguments, which after some editing, was filed. This greatly improved my writing and legal research skills. Not only did I have to research case law, I also had to find less touched on topics in law school such as jury instructions for a specific issue, damages awarded, or the actual court docket. To see my own writing appear on the docket was very rewarding. I wrote a 28 United States Code, Section 2255 motion, a Response to a Motion for a Judgment of Acquittal, and a 28 United States Code, Section 2241 motion. Each motion has different stylistic components and accomplishes different things, providing me with a broader understanding of legal writing.

My internship experience this summer was enriching and rewarding. This experience caused me to grow in my legal skills and I am better equipped for practicing law because of it.

 

Hayley Kick – Southeast Ohio Legal Services Housing Team / The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio

During the summer of 2018, I worked with the Southeast Ohio Legal Services (SEOLS) Housing Team remotely from the Legal Aid Society of Columbus office as a partial PILF Fellow. The SEOLS Housing Team is made up of attorneys from each of the SEOLS offices who focus on housing issues in their respective service areas. My work focused on researching eviction rates in SEOLS counties to help the Housing Team build a resource bank of statistics in order to support the team’s efforts to serve vulnerable populations who are most at risk for eviction in SEOLS counties.

Additionally, I worked with the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) as a law clerk for the Fair Housing Coordinator. In this position, I researched Ohio landlord tenant law and federal housing laws to answer questions from Ohioans about housing issues. I also assisted the Fair Housing Coordinator with developing presentations on Ohio landlord tenant law, the Fair Housing Act, and the Violence Against Women Act for training sessions conducted statewide.

The overlap in my two summer positions helped me develop a stronger understanding of state and federal housing laws and the negative social impact of evictions. I encourage donors and future PILF Fellows who are interested in learning more about housing issues to read Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond and utilize The Eviction Lab, an interactive online resource developed by Princeton University that generates data and reports on evictions in most American communities.

 

Ashley Kim – US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio

My experience as a legal intern at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio allowed me to work alongside a number of federal prosecutors in a wide range of areas, from healthcare and tax fraud to child pornography and violent crimes. I spent most of the summer writing the government’s responses to defendants’ motions, filing trial documents, and shadowing attorneys through the trial process. In this way, I was able to familiarize myself with criminal procedure and litigation in a way I could never do in a classroom.

I also wrote legal memoranda to attorneys in the office, summarizing case law and recommending a course of action in their cases. The amount of responsibility and trust the prosecutors place on the legal interns is incredible and humbling. If you work at this office, you become part of a team because every case is a team effort. There could be any number of attorneys, law clerks, agents, and organizations working on a single case. Throughout the summer, I attended meetings and conferences with agents from the DEA, FBI, ATS, IRS, HSI, etc.

Finally, I went to the federal courthouse on a weekly basis since legal interns were encouraged to attend hearings as often as possible. At the courthouse, I could meet federal judges and network with other attorneys and law clerks. With the help of one of the prosecutors at my office, I attended a lunch with the Honorable Chief Judge Sargus.

 

Dustin Lorenzo – United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana

For the summer of 2018, I worked as a law clerk in the Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana. More specifically, I worked in the South Bend Division, a regional office of the Northern District of Indiana. Working in a smaller, regional office allowed me to work closely with six Assistant U.S. Attorneys prosecuting all types of federal crimes, ranging from armed drug trafficking to white-collar offenses.

I was tasked with researching complex issues relating to all stages of the criminal process, from working with the FBI and ATF to determine what charges to present to the Grand Jury, to examining the federal sentencing guidelines to determine a defendant’s offense level. Along with prosecutors using my research to obtain favorable rulings in U.S. District Court, I was able to represent the United States in roughly twenty initial appearances, arraignments, and pre-trial detention hearings in U.S. Magistrate Court. Obtaining a PILF Fellowship allowed me to pursue this valuable and rewarding experience.

 

Claire McGaghUS Attorney’s Office

Receiving support from the Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) this summer allowed me to continue my commitment to public service while expanding my horizons to civil work through a summer internship position with the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO).

My summer at the USAO solidified the importance of public interest and provided invaluable work experience. In the civil division of the USAO, I had the opportunity to conduct legal research, write office memoranda, assist with investigations, and observe court proceedings at the federal courthouse. The civil division of the USAO defends the United States, its agencies and employees, in civil action, as well as pursues affirmative actions in federal and state courts. In my time at the USAO, I observed firsthand the commitment, integrity, and passion embodied in the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney’s. I saw as AUSA’s work tirelessly with agents and witnesses to build cases and achieve just results.

Without the support of PILF, I would not have gotten to appreciate the hard work of public servants like the AUSA’s at the Columbus office. I am so grateful to PILF’s belief in me as an ambassador of Moritz and the Foundation. I look forward to continuing my commitment to public service through work with PILF this school year.

 

Sophia Mills – Mountain State Justice 

This summer, I got the opportunity to work for Mountain State Justice, a legal services organization that advocates for low-income and underserved West Virginians. People in my home state of West Virginia, and in Appalachia more generally, are often stereotyped, exploited, and ignored; for that reason, it was especially important to me to have my first legal experience in the community I wish to serve after law school. Public interest opportunities for 1Ls, however, were scarce in West Virginia, so I drove about fifty miles to and from work each day so I could do something I truly believed in. My PILF fellowship allowed me bear that cost.

I was lucky to intern at an organization that practiced a diverse range of services related to economic and social justice, including consumer protection, black lung claims, prison conditions, special education, and Civil Rights. I got to observe and assist with many steps of litigation, from depositions to mediations to trial. One of my first projects was doing jury research for a federal reverse mortgage trial. In addition to consumer protection, I worked on Civil Rights cases, especially ones where clients were facing eviction or discrimination in housing. I also researched special education issues to determine whether clients could receive state reimbursement for placement at special needs schools. Over the summer, I also contributed to an ACLU project on bail, tracking how many arrestees were kept in jail because they could not afford cash bail. The most emotional part of the job was visiting a jail to investigate allegations of overcrowding and mistreatment. The inmates we spoke with had not even had a trial, meaning they were exposed to months of  inhumane conditions and abuse while being presumed innocent.

I learned a lot academically, but as I am sure many other PILF fellows would say, the clients are the most meaningful part of the experience. In the face of personal struggle, whether it was being in danger of losing a home, or developing debilitating black lung after decades of dangerous work, our clients showed incredible resilience, good humor, and gratitude for their lives. One woman, in particular, shed happy tears as the lien on her home was released in settlement and I sat with her as she assured me that I would “make a great lawyer.” “Just believe in people” was her one piece of advice.

The fact that Public Interest Law Foundation was able to fund twenty-two fellows this Summer is a testament not just to those in charge of the organization, but to the whole Moritz community. I am grateful to attend a school that is so service-minded and especially thankful to be lifted up by the generosity of others.

 

Nicholas Pasquarello – Community Refugee & Immigration Services

This summer working for Community Refugee & Immigration Services (CRIS) was a grounding, enlightening, and humbling experience.  I was able to get a real-world introduction to immigration law including the realities of how government agencies actually make decisions.  Contrary to the pedagogy of our 1L experience, I learned that USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) frequently rejects or accepts various applications based not on objective law, but on moral and greater policy considerations.  I learned that legal arguments must be tailored to this line of thinking to ensure the greatest possibility of relief for our immigrant and refugee populations.

To donors, I would say that financial support of the Public Interest Law Foundation is the best place to support young law students who want to do the much needed and woefully underfunded labor that non-profits such as CRIS depend.  A donation to PILF is truly the best of both worlds: it is both a donation to various amazing non-profits doing crucial work for our most vulnerable neighbors and an opportunity for young law students to do the work they feel passionately about without needing to go into (more) debt.

I personally view PILF as a cyclical process now.  I plan on continuing as a volunteer at CRIS throughout this year to continue contributing to this amazing organization and I do so with the added security that I will likely secure a PILF fellowship for my 2L summer (as I intend to continue work for other non-profit organizations who so greatly need the help).

 

Taylor Piel – Disability Rights Ohio

The PILF Fellowship made it possible for me to intern for Disability Rights Ohio full time all summer. The fellowship meant that I didn’t have to split my time and do non-legal work to pay the bills, and I was able to give my full attention to research for DRO. This summer, I was able to provide weeks of research of a variety of projects, attend a hearing (this was my first courtroom experience,) and go on an all-day monitoring visit to a state behavioral health hospital.

Donors to PILF are making a huge difference in the lives of students and in the organizations we serve. Giving us the gift of financial security over the summer means that one more person is able to dedicate herself fully to a worthy legal cause in the community.

Beyond building my writing skills, and gaining office experience, I genuinely enjoyed my time in public interest. The office environment was welcoming and collaborative. I felt like my supervisors saw my growth as a priority, alongside with the work I was producing.

I am very appreciative of all the donors who believe in the work the PILF Fellowship recipients do. Their generosity is what made a summer in public interest an option for me.

Maria Restrepo – Ohio Public Defender

PILF’s fellowship allowed me to focus all my attention on working at the Office of the Ohio Public Defender, instead of worrying about how to earn money to survive. I learned a lot while working at OPD and was able to develop some of the legal writing and researching skills learned during law school. I had the privilege to work alongside many attorneys that help indigent people with their due process rights and make sure everyone gets representation regardless of their income.

I would thank future donors for allowing many students like myself to work in a public sector job. Many times, people overlook the type of work that offices like OPD do, but at the end of the day, they are the ones making sure people feel like they are being treated fairly, even if they do not have enough money to hire an attorney. I worked on several projects this summer that expanded my knowledge about fairness and the criminal law system. One of those projects was about gangs, and it made me question the way in which a person is labeled a gang member and the consequences of it.

Working at OPD was a wonderful experience that I will forever carry with me, and I am so thankful for the support of our PILF donors because I would not have been able to do it without them. I would tell future fellows to make the best out of their experience and do not be afraid to ask questions and get involved.

 

Alison RothFederal Public Defender

This summer, I had the opportunity to work in the Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio. Through this experience, I was able to work on complex legal issues. I had the opportunity to draft briefs that were filed in state and federal court. Due to procedural restraints on habeas petitions, winning victories for our clients is rare. This made it all the more rewarding when a federal judge ruled in our favor on all issues on a motion that I helped to brief. Not only did I get to help draft the brief we presented to the judge, but the judge used the language I wrote to rule in our favor.

One of the most humbling and eye-opening experiences I had this summer was getting to meet one of our clients in prison. This client has a strong innocence claim and is truly on of the most genuine, kind people I have ever met. Seeing such a gentle person chained to a table because he was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit was heartbreaking, and it further solidified for me the importance of the work I was doing this summer.

The main thing I learned this summer is that, though death row is supposed to be reserved for the worst of the worst criminals, those are not the people who end up on death row. The people on death row are not the worst of the worst criminals; they are the people who received the worst of the worst legal representation, or were on the receiving end of the worst of the worst prosecutorial misconduct. For many of the clients I worked with, their interactions with the Capital Habeas Unit mark the first time they have received competent, dedicated legal representation. To be part of helping these people finally received competent counsel has been an honor, and I will be passionate about this work and grateful for this experience for the rest of my life.

 

Bekah Tefft (Andrea Shemberg Fellow)  Ohio Public Defender 

My experience at the Ohio Public Defender Legal Department provided me with vast exposure into appellate litigation and public defense. This Department serves all of Ohio’s 50,000 prisoners through representing them on their appeals and Postconviction issues, as well as representing the inmates at parole and prison violation hearings. Throughout the summer, I was able to work on very interesting cases, including researching a double jeopardy issue and the right to counsel at a parole revocation hearing.

I got involved in office working groups, including the Racial Justice Initiative, which works to fight racial disparities in the law. This group allowed me to research the flaws in criminal gang books created by police department, as well as research the intersection of immigration law and deportable crimes. Beyond research and writing, I attended criminal trials and oral arguments at both the Appellate and Supreme Court. I was also able to shadow one of our attorneys located at a prison, which gave me a deeper understanding of the flaws in our criminal justice system.

Working at the Ohio Public Defender’s office gave me insight into the practice of criminal law and I am excited to build on these experiences throughout my career. I would not have been able to have these experiences without the PILF Fellowship and I am grateful for the opportunities PILF has given me.

 

Erica Van Heyde – Ohio Public Defender 

This summer my PILF grant allowed me to accept an internship in the death penalty division of the Ohio Public Defender’s Office. Throughout the summer I was able to work on a wide range of projects both in and out of criminal law. The majority of my time was spent doing legal research for attorneys in the office on issues in their cases on appeal.

I researched a range of issues, including juror racial bias, competence to stand trial, the right to testify in your own trial, evidence suppression and administrative law. I was also able to get directly involved in a few cases including writing a motion for a new trial from scratch and proposing new strategies for defense and investigation for a client. I was also able to travel to Cincinnati to watch an attorney in the office argue a case I had worked on in front of the Sixth Circuit court of appeals. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet that client and two other clients whose cases I worked on. It was important to me that I was able to put a face to the work I was doing, and remember the human impact of our advocacy. I learned more than I could have imagined this summer, and the work I did will stay with me for the rest of my legal career.

 

Willie VerSteeg – Federal Public Defender 

As a father of two, I came to law school in order to find a career path that could support my family while also serving the public in a meaningful, positive way. Unfortunately, the blunt reality is that those two goals are not easily reconciled—especially as a first-year law student. The Public Interest Law Foundation fellowship, however, is a game-changer.

Like many law students, I am drawn to legal practices that are societal areas of need; areas which, by their nature, lack the kind of financial flexibility needed to take on, train, and pay a green and learning law student like myself. These are areas, however, which need as much help as they can get. For my summer, I worked at the Federal Public Defender’s Office in the Capital Habeas Unit, a division which works to defend Ohio’s death row inmates in federal court.

As an unpaid intern, but a PILF fellow, I had a challenging and profound experience working to defend criminals whom society has deemed the worst of the worst. I researched and wrote legal documents, assisted on investigative tasks, and met with clients. In one week, we had one client killed by the state, and another have his life spared by the governor only two days later. The work ran the gamut, both experientially and emotionally, but was exactly what I wanted to do. I could not have done this important, fulfilling work without the assistance of a PILF fellowship.

I am forever grateful to donors who make PILF fellowships possible for students like me. Your generosity serves the community, and fans the flames for the next generation of public servants. Thank you.

 

Rachel Zupan (Columbus Bar Foundation Fellow)Federal Public Defender’s Office

This summer spent at the Federal Public Defender’s Office in the Capital Habeas Unit was nothing short of eye-opening. Having zero background in working in criminal law, I knew I was diving into a brand-new topic. But I quickly fell in love with the work. My PILF fellowship gave me invaluable hands-on experience. I went to death row to meet clients face-to-face. I worked with both trial and appellate attorneys to gather information to assist with cases. I worked with experts to prepare data to be used in the appeals process.

This summer was a holistic look at death row in Ohio, but it also gave me an intensive, detailed look into specific cases and the issues that accompany them. From race to poverty to childhood abuse to biased juries, there are so many circumstances that make an individual more likely to end up on death row than others. One commonality among all of the cases I worked on were adverse childhood experiences. Having been a social worker before law school, I wasn’t shocked at this, but the extent of the trauma that all of these inmates have endured was truly astounding and heartbreaking. This reality seemed to put a very human face on each man on death row that most people don’t seem to see, which makes the work feel even more important and meaningful.

Thank you to PILF for giving me the financial capability to work at the CHU this summer. It was truly incredible and so impactful.