Public Interest Law Association Provides Summer Grants to 85 Students

May 28, 2010

May 28, 2010 — The Public Interest Law Association at the University of Virginia's School of Law will distribute more than $361,000 to a record 85 student grant recipients this summer, according to PILA organizers.

The total is an increase from the 84 grants awarded last year, and students will use the funds to work in a variety of public service jobs across the country.  

"We have people doing all different types of work," said recent graduate Susan Edwards, the 2009-10 PILA president. "We have people doing international human rights, we have people doing criminal defense work, prosecution work, policy work within the state and federal government, think tank work. It really runs the gamut."

The grants will be distributed to 32 second-year and 53 first-year students. Second-year students will receive $6,000 and first-year students will get $3,500, Edwards said.

Grant recipient Mike Moskowitz will spend his first-year summer working for the American Cancer Society in Washington, D.C.

"The main thing I'll be working on is advocating for more cancer research dollars from the National Institutes of Health," Moskowitz said. "I'll also be working on getting more money for breast cancer and cervical screens for low-income women."

In addition, Moskowitz plans to help the organization on amicus briefs that will be filed in opposition to challenges to a new law that allows the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the tobacco industry. He said the PILA grant helped make working for the American Cancer Society a realistic summer option.

"If I hadn't gotten the grant, I probably would have had to stay in Charlottesville this summer, because I wouldn't have had the money to go to D.C.," he said.

Moskowitz, a cancer survivor who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma four years ago, said the job represents a combination of his interests in health law and constitutional law, and that he is particularly excited to work on facilitating cancer research.

"My life was saved by cancer research funding similar to what the American Cancer Society does," he said.

The $361,814 awarded includes $237,000 provided by the Dean's Office, the Law School Foundation and the Program in Law and Public Service. PILA raised the remainder through events such as the annual auction and book sale.

"Contributing $237,000 of the grant money is a tremendous amount," Edwards said. "Without their support, students wouldn't be able to follow the opportunities in public interest work that they had this summer."

Edwards said there were 40 more PILA grant applications this year than last, for a total of 154. Much of the growth came from increased participation from second-year law students, she said.

Yared Getachew, assistant dean for public service and director of the Mortimer Caplin Public Service Center, praised PILA for its response to the increase in applications.

"The PILA board really worked hard to accommodate the increased interest in public interest over the past year," Getachew said.

First-year law student Calleigh McRaith will use her grant money to help fund a summer internship in Cape Town, South Africa, with the International Center for Transitional Justice, an organization that assists countries that are rebuilding after conflict or war.

"They help countries that have recently been in conflict to transition from conflict mode to a peace mode," McRaith said.

McRaith will research and work to support the organization's many field offices in areas such as Liberia, Zimbabwe and Uganda. She did similar work last summer in Northern Ireland, and said she is interested in a career in the field.

"I really love community development," she said. "That's a field that I thought about going into if I didn't go into law, so I'm excited to get to learn more about that and see the role that law has in community development and reconciliation, and in helping people reestablish their lives after a conflict."

The PILA grant funds are a huge help in undertaking her summer project, McRaith said.

"It's just been great. PILA is basically going to help me pay for my flight and my housing and well as all that essential stuff that I wouldn't have been able to cover otherwise. It's great to not have to take out a loan to go do that kind of work."

2010 PILA Grantees

Civil Legal Services
•    Battered Women's Legal Advocacy Project, Minneapolis, Jessica Vormwald
•    Community Legal Services, Philadelphia, Hallam Roth
•    Georgia Legal Services, Savannah, Ga., Hannah Poole
•    JustChildren, Charlottesville, Aditi Goel
•    JustChildren, Charlottesville, Mark Rabideau
•    Juvenile Law Center, Philadelphia, Peggy Nicholson
•    Legal Aid Justice Center, Charlottesville, Cory Stott
•    Legal Aid Justice Center, JustChildren Program, Charlottesville, Mica Germain
•    Legal Aid Justice Center and Charlottesville-Albemarle Public Defender, Charlottesville, Sumner Givens
•    Legal Aid of North Carolina-Advocates for Children's Services, Durham, N.C., Kristin Weissinger
•    New York Legal Assistance Group, New York, Melissa Samuels
•    South Brooklyn Legal Services, Brooklyn, N.Y., Beth Zweig

Clinic
•    U.Va. Law Immigration Law Clinic, Charlottesville, Marina Warner

Federal Government
•    Arlington Immigration Court, Executive Office of Immigration Review, Arlington, Sarah Johns
•    Department of Environmental Quality, Richmond, John White
•    Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., Priya Roy
•    Department of Justice, Civil Division, Constitutional Torts, Washington, D.C., Anna Johnson
•    Department of Justice, Civil Division, Appellate Staff, Washington, D.C., Elizabeth Hinkley
•    Department of Justice, Criminal, Washington, D.C., Rianna Barrett
•    Department of Justice Federal Programs, Washington, D.C., April Russo
•    Department of Justice, Human Rights and Special Prosecution , Washington, D.C., Amy Stern
•    Department of Justice, Tax Division, Washington, D.C., Katie Delsandro
•    Department of Justice, Tax Division, Washington, D.C., Melanie Smith
•    EEOC - Law Clerk to ALJ, Washington, D.C., Stephanie Hall
•    Federal Public Defender, Western District of Virginia, Charlottesville, Meredith Blaire Hawkins
•    Small Business Administration, Washington, D.C., Rachel Brown
•    U.S. Attorney's Office, Charlottesville, Brendan Staley
•    U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., Jessica Boluda
•    U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., Matthew Dinan
•    U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., Colleen Depman
•    U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland, Baltimore, Erin Earp
•    U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey, Newark, N.J., David Perez
•    U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria, Lindsay Booker
•    U.S. Attorney's Office, Los Angeles, Brian Yang
•    U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California, San Diego, Benjamin Mayer
•    U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Missouri, Kansas City, Mo., Anne Malinee
•    U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte, N.C., Manu Balachandran
•    U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, National Courts Section, Washington, D.C., Janice Wang
•    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8, Legal Enforcement Program, Denver, Travis Pietila
•    U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Washington, D.C., Benjamin Chung Lee
•    U.S. Immigration Court - EOIR, Falls Church, Melanie Stuart
•    U.S. Senate (JudMoskowitziciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs and Senator Casey's Personal Office), Washington, D.C., Jordan Lane

International
•    Asylum Access, Quito, Ecuador, Hernando Montoya
•    Center for Human Rights Legal Action, Guatamala City, Katherine Reynolds
•    Centre for Applied Legal Studies, University of the Witwarersrand , Johannesburg,
South Africa, Salima Burke
•    Institute for International Law and Human Rights, Washington, D.C., Micki Bloom
•    International Bridges to Justice, New Delhi, Anisha Singh
•    International Center for Transitional Justice, Cape Town, South Africa, Calleigh McRaith
•    International Justice Mission, Guatamala City, Kathryn Fennig
•    International Justice Mission, Manila, Philippines, Madison Saniuk
•    Minority Rights Group International, London, Clare Boronow
•    Secretariat of Pacific Communities, Fiji, Amelia Dungan
•    U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Arusha, Tanzania, Ashley Brown
•    U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Arusha, Tanzania, Roberto Castillo
•    U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Arusha, Tanzania, Joel Sanderson

Public Defenders
•    Bronx Defenders , Bronx, N.Y., Jesse Stewart
•    Fairfax Office of the Public Defender, Fairfax, Jennifer Lee
•    Fairfax Office of the Public Defender, Fairfax, Julia Snyder
•    Harlem Neighborhood Defender Services, New York, John Stephens
•    Legal Aid Society - Criminal Appeals, New York, Daniel Nazar
•    Miami Public Defender, Miami, Derrick Johnson
•    Office of the Maryland Public Defender, Baltimore, Ashley Ann Wilkinson
•    Public Defender Services for the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., Claire Blumenson

Public Interest Organizations
•    American Cancer Society, Washington, D.C., Michael Moskowitz
•    American Civil Liberties Union, LGBT/AIDS Project, New York, Daniel Ross
•    American Civil Liberties Union, LGBT/AIDS Project, New York, Susan Kruth
•    Catholic Charities Community Services, Dept. of Immigrant and Refugee Services, New York, Leily Faridzadeh
•    Institute for Justice, Arlington, Milad Emam
•    Lambda Legal Midwest Regional Office, Chicago, Kathryn Guilfoyle
•    National Partnership for Women & Families, Washington, D.C., Christine Tschiderer
•    Natural Resources Defense Council, New York, Jacqueline Leonard
•    Public Knowledge, Washington, D.C., Christopher Reilly
•    Rutherford Institute, Charlottesville, Allison Harnack
•    San Diego Coastkeeper, San Diego, Constance (Stacee) Karras
•    Southern Environmental Law Center, Charlottesville, Nicholas Dumais
•    Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center, Charlottesville, Jessica Lee

State and Local Government
•    Albemarle County Commonwealth Attorney's Office, Charlottesville, Holly Naylor
•    California Attorney General's Office, San Francisco, Elizabeth Hereford
•    Department of Children and Families, Miami, Candace Stuart
•    Henrico County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, Richmond, Brent Schultheis
•    Portsmouth Commonwealth Attorney's Office, Portsmouth, Brian Colas
•    Rockingham County Commonwealth Attorney's Office, Harrisonburg, Lindsey Chamness
•    Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit, DeKalb County, Ga., Laura Tate
•    Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, Boston, Thomas Peyton Smith
•    Waynesboro Commonwealth Attorney, Waynesboro, Ashley Matthews