The Haywood Burns Fellowships are designed to encourage students to work in the NLG’s tradition of “people's lawyering." The program exists to help students apply their talents and skills to find creative ways to use the law to advance justice. Burns Fellowships provoke law students to question traditional notions of how one must practice law and to provide a summer experience that will enrich and challenge them. Donate to support the next generation of people's lawyers here.

Applications for 2015 are available here.

The History

The Haywood Burns Memorial Fellowship for Social and Economic Justice has its roots in the National Lawyers Guild’s established tradition of providing legal, political, and educational support to the important progressive movements of the day.

In late 1972, New York State indicted 62 prisoners who survived the police assault at the Attica Correctional Facility. None of the police officers was indicted despite detailed reports of excessive force. In 1973, the Summer Projects Committee was formed in part to respond to this situation. The committee sent students to assist with the defense of the Attica Brothers, to support the growing farmworker struggles in California, and to support Native American treaty rights in the Pacific Northwest.

Over the years, the Summer Projects program has expanded to place hundreds of students with public interest organizations working to protect and further the civil rights of oppressed people in the United States. Although providing legal work under the direction of their attorney-organizers is important, the primary mission of the summer projects is to strengthen each student’s long-term commitment to promote justice and equality. Fellows have worked with groups to provide legal, political, and educational support on a wide variety of issues, including voting rights; union democracy; workplace health and safety; the death penalty and prison reform; lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans rights; defense of protesters from police harassment and criminal sanctions; and international human rights.

In 1996 the program was renamed after Haywood Burns, long-time radical lawyer, law professor, and former president of the National Lawyers Guild, whose life and work created a legend to inspire generations to come.

2014 Haywood Burns Fellows

Michelle LewinMichelle Lewin is a first-year student at the CUNY School of Law. Born and raised in Atlanta, Michelle has been active in prison abolition and restorative justice work since 2005. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, Michelle began working for the Fortune Society in their Alternatives to Incarceration program, advocating for clients facing long-term felony convictions. Michelle joined the NLG in the fall of 2013, and has been working on the Parole Preparation Project with the Mass Incarceration Committee ever since. Outside of law school, Michelle is actively involved in her Brooklyn women's group, and teaches workshops on consensus decision-making and collaborative leadership skills. As a NLG fellow, she will spend her summer with Common Law, a n anti-foreclosure organization in Queens, NY, committed to community lawyering and political and popular education.

Amanda SchemkesSallie (Zhiyan) Lin is a 1L at Santa Clara Law. She is active in the National Lawyers Guild on campus and will be the chapter co-president next school year. Sallie is also a part of her school’s Pro Bono Program and volunteers at the San Mateo County Superior Court Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Legal Support Services Division. As an immigrant from China, she cares deeply about underserved populations, such as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, undocumented and working class immigrants. Sallie is determined to pursue a career dedicated to the advancement of civil and human rights. As a Haywood Burns Fellow, she will be working at the International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) in Beijing. The organization seeks to guarantee all citizens in developing countries the right to competent legal representation, the right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment, and the right to a fair trial. In her spare time, Sallie enjoys cooking, attending seminars, and being politically involved.

Amanda SchemkesMichelle Amelia Newman is a second-year law student at Northeastern University School of Law (NUSL). At NUSL, Michelle has been active in several student groups, including NLG and LALSA, has organized panels on fracking and human rights issues. She has also worked as a volunteer translator for Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), which provides legal services to unaccompanied children caught in US deportation proceedings, and for the Rich Coast Project, a NUSL alumna-founded project which works on land use and environmental issues in Costa Rica. Before law school, Michelle worked at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law on litigation, transactional, and policy projects in fair housing and fair lending, community development, and environmental justice. She also lived for a time in Santiago, Chile, volunteering with the nonprofit VE Global and implementing educational programming in social service institutions that house at-risk youth. With the support of the Haywood Burns Fellowship, Michelle will be working in Quito, Ecuador with lead plaintiffs' attorney Pablo Farjado Mendoza and the Amazon Defense Coalition (Frente de Defensa de la Amazonia) on the Chevron-Texaco litigation, one of the biggest environmental cases ever brought against a multinational corporation. Read more about the case here: chevrontoxico.com.

nadin saidNadin Said is a second-year law student at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. She is a California Native and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. During her first summer in law school, Nadin worked as a Summer Associate for Dorsey and Whitney, LLP where she drafted memorandums regarding corporate and patent law, filed 501(c)(3) tax forms, and researched and assisted with contract litigations. This semester, she is clerking for a Judge in the 18th Judicial District in Colorado. Nadin is a Contributor to The Race to the Bottom Blog and was elected as the Managing Editor for the 2014-2015 academic year. She serves as a Staff Editor and the Technical Editor to the Sports and Entertainment Law Journal. She also founded the very first Middle Eastern and North African Law Society at the University of Denver. She serves on the board of the Latino Law Student Association, Black Law Student Association, and the National Women Law Students’ Organization. This summer, Nadin will be working on Panacagos v. Towery, a case involving the United States military violating activists’ constitutional rights. 

Amanda SchemkesAmanda Schemkes is a 2L at Seattle University School of Law. Amanda came to the decision to attend law school because of her work as an animal rights activist. Through her experiences, she saw the need for greater legal resources for animal rights, environmental, and other activists who are targets of State repression because of their uncompromising dedication to protecting the earth and its inhabitants. In addition to representing activists, Amanda wants to work to proactively strengthen social justice movements through educating activists about their rights, doing legal research, and protecting themselves and their campaigns from corporate and government interference. She is excited to be working with the Civil Liberties Defense this summer because of all the amazing work they do to support and work with activist communities.

2013 Haywood Burns Fellows

Catherine Ady-Bell is a 2L at Western New England University School of Law. She volunteered as a legal observer with the Toronto-based Movement Defense Committee when the G20 summit came to town, and did legal support work on behalf of arrestees. While in law school, Catherine works as a volunteer organizer with Springfield No One Leaves, an anti-foreclosure housing rights group. She is an active member of her school's NLG chapter, serving as treasurer.  Catherine also serves on the board of the Rosenberg Fund for Children. In her spare time she chases her toddler around the house and hangs out with her partner. As a Haywood Burns Fellow, Catherine will work with Springfield No One Leaves on its Turn On The Lights campaign.

Ariel Johnson is a 2L at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Born and raised in Chicago, she is active in the community working with various organizations that serve underrepresented youth. Ariel is also active in her law school as a writer for the Education Law and Policy Newsletter and community service chair for the Black Law Students Association. She plans to dedicate her time to working to improve the education system in this state, especially for our underprivileged youth in the city. Thus far, she has had the opportunity to extern in federal court, intern with Chicago Public Schools, and work on special education and juvenile justice initiatives at Equip for Equality. This summer, she will spend her time working with the Legal Assistance Foundation in their child and family law division.

Lindsey Schromen-WawrinLindsey Schromen-Wawrin is a new attorney.  He recently graduated summa cum laude from Gonzaga University School of Law.  In law school, Lindsey helped restart the student Guild chapter, coordinate a free juvenile record sealing clinic, facilitate a weekly public interest speaker series, and interned with the Federal Defenders.  In a past life, Lindsey taught ecology in the old-growth and riparian forests of the Olympic Peninsula, collaborating with Klallam traditional knowledge educators.  He has returned to his hometown of Port Angeles, Washington, and resumed organizing on grassroots issues of indigenous self-determination, ecological justice, anti-oppression, human rights, and civil liberties.  He also organizes with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.  Thanks to the Haywood Burns Fellowship, Lindsey is working on the plaintiffs' legal team in Panagacos v. Towery, a civil rights case concerning military spying on anti-war protestors.

Patrick Tyrrell is a first-year student at the City University of New York School of Law. A native Kansan, he has organized with animal rights, anti-war, and prison abolition campaigns since the early 2000s. After graduating from Marlboro College in 2008, he moved to Chicago where he worked predominantly with housing and immigration organizations. During the 2012 NATO summit, he joined the NLG Chicago chapter to develop an arrestee intake and police brutality tracking system. Outside of law school, Patrick develops web applications for Palestine Solidarity Legal Support and organizes Punk Rock Karaoke fundraisers for community organizations across the Northeast.

Maggie Webster is a second-year student at Louisiana State University's Paul M. Hebert Law Center.  She became passionate about capital defense after seeing the HBO documentary Paradise Lost and began fundraising for the innocent men known as the West Memphis Three.  While attending Millsaps College, she interned with the Office of Capital Defense Counsel, a division of the Mississippi State Public Defender and learned of the challenges associated with indigent defense.  After returning to her home state of Louisiana, she worked with Innocence Project-New Orleans and with the Baton Rouge Capital Conflict Office, both offices serving the indigent.  While not serving on her law school's Student Bar Association Executive Board, or volunteering with the Baton Rouge Animal Shelter, she is honing her skills as a mean cajun cook.

2012 Haywood Burns Fellows

Khalid Samarrae, a Tulane Law student, assisted the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana in its efforts to transform the juvenile justice system of Louisiana into one that builds on the strengths of students, families, and communities to ensure children are given the greatest opportunity to grow and thrive. He gained experience working against the School-to-Prison Pipeline within a judicial, legislative, and grassroots context and helped to address juvenile justice issues such as: minors serving life without parole; unwarranted use of force by school security officers; conditions of confinement; and education reform within juvenile detention centers. 

Tyler Whittenberg, also a Tulane Law student, worked as a legal intern with the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana. In an effort to address the early stages of the School-to-Prison Pipeline, he worked with the Recovery School District, students, parents and community members in order to minimize the number of students suspended or expelled and promote the implementation of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS).

Meghan Barner, a student at Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon, worked on the Death Penalty Project at the recently-established Oregon Justice Resource Center. She'll be conducting research and litigation assistance in capital appeals and policy-based research designed to aid repeal of the death penalty in Oregon.

Elizabeth Spellman, a student at Vermont Law School, worked with the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment’s (CRPE) San Joaquin Valley office. Her work supported efforts to establish healthy, equitable, and just land-use and sustainable development practices that are accountable to and adequately serve very low income, rural communities of color. These efforts, which are identified and designed by impacted communities, utilize a variety of legal and community organizing tools to build community power and address persistent environmental inequality.

Bacilio Mendez II, a New York Law School student, worked in conjunction with the Law Office of Rankin & Taylor and the Center for Constitutional Rights to develop data visualization of the NYPD Stop, Question and Frisk Report Database. This will be done using Open Maps API and will culminate in a set of reports, published by the Guild, which practitioners will be able to reference and cite in court proceedings. You can connect with Bacilio at http://bacilio.com.