UH Law Center ‘Fellows’ will work here and abroad this summer in public interest jobs

June 08, 2015 – Thirty-one University of Houston Law Center students have been awarded fellowships from the school to work this summer at non-profit, public interest agencies and government offices.

An additional nine students will be spending the summer abroad as “Global Fellows,” working for similar agencies in Canada, India, and Mexico.

The 2015 Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program subsidizes weekly salaries for students who have expressed an interest in practicing public service law after graduation. Participating local organizations include the YMCA, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Children’s Assessment Center, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, and Lone Star Legal Aid.  Governmental agencies include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in New York City and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C.,   in addition to numerous others at the local, state, and federal levels.

While students have been interning in Mexico for years, most recently arranged through the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law, the expanded Global Fellowship program was started this year by Dean Leonard M. Baynes.

“I am delighted to continue this longstanding program and expand it to include several global fellowships in Calgary, Mexico City, and New Delhi,” Baynes said.

“As dean, it is important for me to help facilitate career opportunities for students to enhance their ultimate first legal job at graduation. These public interest and global fellowships do just that by allowing the students to get paid for real world experience.”

“In addition, no matter what area of law that a student ultimately chooses for his or her career, it is important for the Law Center to instill civic involvement and a commitment to public service,” he continued. “By providing a financial incentive to encourage students to take these summer jobs, they will get a robust legal experience while serving the global and national community.”

Each of this year’s fellows expressed a strong commitment to public service and the belief that experience gained this summer will prove invaluable in helping them reach their personal and professional goals.

“The fellowship funds will give me a boost as I embark upon a career as a public interest lawyer,” said Jonathan Chatham who will work at Beacon Law which provides legal services to indigent and low-income clients. “The reason I came to law school was to earn the education and credentials I need to make a positive impact on needy populations.”

“I am passionate about preserving our natural resources while serving the public and this fellowship will give me the opportunity to do both!” said Spencer Taylor, who is heading to the EPA office in New York.

“I came to law school to learn the tools and legal skills necessary to work in the public interest field, advancing women and children’s rights,” said Camille Van Kote. “Thanks to this fellowship, I will be able to accomplish this goal by working at the Tahirih Justice Center.”

The Public Interest Fellowship program is open to all 1Ls, 2Ls, and part-time 3Ls in good academic standing. Each applicant must arrange his or her own position with an organization or agency. Fellows will receive $400 for working 35-40 hours per week for a minimum of five weeks and a maximum of 10.

Fellows are chosen by the Career Development Office for their long-term interest and previous experience in serving the community, the type and quality of service provided by the public service organization, and the overall professional quality of the student’s application and understanding of what a career in public interest law entails.

 “It is wonderful to have a fellowship program that supports students in a wide variety of public service positions,” said Allison Regan, assistant dean for career development. “Because of this program, students are able to gain valuable legal experience, serve the public, and develop a better appreciation for long term career goals.” 

"Interning in the Office of Chair at the U.S. EEOC's national headquarters in D.C. has been an incomparable experience. In the two weeks I've worked here, I've already been given the opportunity to assist senior counsel to the Chair with a contract drafting assignment that will likely be included in arising EEOC Guidance," said UHLC student Nick Brown.

"By invitation of Chair Jenny Yang, I've also been able to join the Chair in attending her keynote speaking engagements, allowing me networking opportunities not only with the Chair but also with other high-profile D.C. legal figures. Most exciting thus far, all D.C. federal agency legal interns have the opportunity to participate in the Federal Bar Association's Summer Law Clerk program---a rare opportunity to physically visit and engage three other federal agencies (of their choice) for future internship purposes. The fellowship grant has made these experiences possible, and I couldn't be more grateful," Brown said.

The Law Center has a long history of subsidizing student volunteer work for public interest organizations. The program was greatly expanded in 1999 with a grant from the Houston Endowment.

The Global Fellowship Program is also open to all 1Ls, 2Ls, and part-time 3Ls in good academic standing. LL.M. candidates also may apply. Each applicant must arrange his or her own position with an organization or agency. Previous summer internships in Mexico were unpaid, but under this program fellows will receive a maximum $4,000 in financial assistance from the Law Center.

“Energy is a multinational industry that is heavily regulated in North America,” said Alisha Alibhai who will be working with the Alberta Utilities Commission in Calgary, Canada. “Understanding the growing economic and political relationship between Canada and the United States is important considering the influential role both nations play in the greater global marketplace.

The 2015 Summer Public Interest Fellows are Grace An, Candace Ashford, Nita Batra, Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey, Jefferson Brannon, Jonathan Chatham, Ved Chitale, Kalina Dalal, James Earl, Douglas Evans, Carl Fitz, Traci Gibson, Ricque Hurst, Luke Keogh, David Kobilka, Bianca McIntire, Julia Peebles, Benjamin Rowe, Harrison Royalty, Nicole Su, Maria Tariq, Zainab Tarique, Spencer Taylor, Brian Trinidad, Neeharika Tumati, Camille Van Kote, and Andrea Velazquez.

Three students were selected for summer public interest stipends from other sources: Janan Sharaf, the Robert Sohns Fellowship; Melissa MacNeil, the AT&T Pro Bono Fellowship; and Bobby Dale, the UHLC Health Congressional Fellowship.

Nine students have been awarded global fellowships: Nimroz Ali, Alisha Alibhai, Valentina Echeverri, Jordan Gonzalez, Raymer Mujica, Patrick Shelton, Nayje Soto, Jonathan Werlang, and Hannah Parham.

"Public participation and government transparency are two elements that are essential to the enforcement of environmental law. I feel privileged to be working with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, an organization that facilitates both of these goals among the citizens of North America," said UHLC student Hannah Parham.

UHLC Summer Public Interest Fellowship

Grace An Candace Ashford Nita Batra Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey
YMCA International U.S. Dept of Veteran's Affairs, Office of Regional Counsel Federal Trade Commission Children's Assessment Center
Jefferson Brannon Jonathan Chatham Ved Chitale Kalina Dalal
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern Distrcict of TX Beacon Law Attorney General, Consumer Protection Children's Assessment Center
James Earl Douglas Evans Carl Fitz Traci Gibson
Texas Defender Service Harris County Public Defender's Office Harris County Attorney's Office Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Ricque Hurst Luke Keogh David Kobilka Bianca McIntire
Harris County District Attorney's Office Lakewood Church Dallas County District Attorney's Office U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern Distrcict of TX
Julia Peebles Benjamin Rowe Harrison Royalty Nicole Su
Museum of Fine Arts Children at Risk U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern Distrcict of TX U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern Distrcict of TX
Maria Tariq Zainab Tarique Spencer Taylor Brian Trinidad
Harris County Attorney's Office Harris County Attorney's Office US Environmental Protection Agency, New York Texas Appleseed
Neeharika Tumati Camille Van Kote Andrea Velazquez Janan Sharaf
Harris County District Attorney's Office Tahirih Justice Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse Lone Star Legal Aid
Melissa MacNeil Bobby Dale Nick Brown   
Farmworker Justice Congressman Gene Green Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  


UHLC Global Fellowship

Nimroz Ali

Alisha Alibhai

Valentina Echeverri

Jordan Gonzalez

México’s Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos (CNH) Alberta Utilities Commission, Calgary, Canada México’s Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos (CNH) Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Raymer Mujica

Hannah Parham Patrick Shelton

Nayje Soto

México’s Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos (CNH) Commission for Environmental Cooperation National Green Tribunal Internship, New Delhi, India Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX)

Jonathan Werlang

Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX)      

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