Equal Justice Works selected a record number of Chicago-Kent College of Law alumni this year for its prestigious public interest fellowships. Four graduating students—Elisabeth Hieber (LAW ’19), Tobias Rodriguez (LAW ’19), Susana Sandoval Vargas (LAW ’19), and Carl Sessions (LAW ’19)—will begin their two-year public interest fellowships later this year.
Equal Justice Works fellowships give law graduates the opportunity to design their own public interest projects and leverage their law degrees for a cause of their choice. This year, 76 fellows were chosen for projects across the country.
“The record-setting number of Equal Justice Works awards—eclipsed only by Yale, Harvard, and [New York University] in the entire country—is testament to our school's dedication and focus on the public interest,” says Chicago-Kent Dean Harold Krent. “Congrats to Elisabeth, Tobias, Susana, and Carl.”
Hieber will establish mobile legal clinics at LGBT-supportive organizations where LGBT elders can receive culturally responsive legal services, including assistance completing estate planning documents and representation in state court proceedings for issues related to housing, eviction, and landlord-tenant disputes. Hieber’s fellowship is hosted by the Center for Disability and Elder Law and sponsored by PepsiCo.
Rodriguez will provide legal services for incarcerated fathers and fathers recently released from prison who want to establish relationships with their minor children. Through the project, he hopes to reduce recidivism rates through strengthening family bonds. His project is sponsored by the law firm of Greenberg Traurig LLP and is hosted by Cabrini Green Legal Aid.
Sandoval Vargas will defend low-wage immigrant women workers against wage theft and other abuses by fighting for their rights in court and by providing bilingual know-your-rights presentations. Her fellowship is hosted by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and sponsored by Discover Financial Services and by the law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP.
Sessions will represent tenants in eviction court who have viable claims of unsafe conditions in their homes. He’ll also create a pool of litigation resources for legal services and tenants’ attorneys to make it easier to collect evidence for trials and to provide education on renters’ rights. His fellowship is sponsored by the Rossotti Foundation and will be hosted by the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing.