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Tuesday, July 08, 2014

A New Civic Rite of Passage?

Lawyers for America partners with Aspen Institute, rolls out program with Vermont Law School, helping fill the "justice gap."

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Image from new LfA partner Vermont Law: "What Sustains Us"

Lawyers for America is now partnering with the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project, chaired by retired U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, to create more opportunities for young people committed to public service.

“We share the mission of public service with the Franklin Project, and we are working together to create additional service opportunities,” said UC Hastings Professor Marsha Cohen, executive director of Lawyers for America. “Service through Lawyers for America will enable nonprofit legal organizations and government law offices to stretch their budgets to help fill our nation’s justice gap.”

MacKenzie Moritz, the Franklin Project’s associate director for strategic partnerships, said, “The Franklin Project is working to make a year of national service a common opportunity and common expectation for young people growing up in America –a new civic rite of passage. We're excited by the innovative new model Lawyers for America has developed to integrate the opportunity to do a service year into the law school experience and look forward to working with them to expand the model to additional law schools around the country.”

“MacKenzie has deep experience in building capacity for programs like Lawyers for America,” said Cohen. “We are excited to be working with someone with his expertise.”

Vermont Law School

Also this summer, Vermont Law School joined the Lawyers for America program.

“Our model, with a full training-year externship followed by a service year after graduation, has possibilities for many law schools,” Cohen said.
Vermont Law School’s LFA fellows may serve in communities across the United States, including Alaska.

“Vermont Law School students are service-minded and committed to making positive change in the world,” said Marc Mihaly, president and dean of Vermont Law School, ranked No. 1 in the nation for environmental law. “Our partnership with Lawyers for America is a natural fit and will afford our students new opportunities to use the power ofMo the law to make a difference across the country.”

Five members of the UC Hastings Class of 2014 are the first Lawyers for America fellows. They have completed their training year, are now studying for the California Bar Exam, and will return to their placements for a full year of post-graduate work thereafter.

"Lawyers for America has given me a one-year head start at one of the best public defender offices in California," said Aaron Jaques ’14. "I know that when I return to the Contra Costa Public Defender's Office in the fall, I'll be able to hit the ground running."

“Their supervisors have been delighted with them,” Cohen said of the first fellows, and “they have received top training.” “LFA worksite partners, who support the program financially, have a direct interest in training the fellows. The more fellows can do and the faster and more effectively they can learn, the more value these offices get out of it. It’s a win for everybody.”

UC Hastings Fellows

The UC Hastings Fellows beginning their training year in fall 2014 include:

  • Nicholas Whipps, Center for Biological Diversity
  • Kevin King, First District Appellate Project
  • Anastasia Bondarchuk, Berkeley City Attorney
  • James Kachelmeyer, Berkeley City Attorney
  • Sandy Flagge-Phillips, Contra Costa County Superior Court

Law schools interested in implementing the program, and nonprofits and public law offices interested in hosting fellows, can contact Marsha Cohen at cohenm@uchastings.edu, or 415.565.4676; Mai Linh Spencer, academic director of the LFA program at UC Hastings, spencerm@uchastings.edu; or Jackie Gardina, vice dean for faculty and professor of law at Vermont Law School, at 802-831-1272 or jgardina@vermontlaw.edu.

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