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. Download the 2014 Fellowship application here.
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.
2013 Haywood Burns Fellowsis 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.
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.